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Health and Wellbeing at Work: Day two round-up

“We’ve had more men than women take parental leave in the last year,” said Correla's people leader -

The Health and Wellbeing at Work exhibition and conference continued yesterday (13 March), at Birmingham’s NEC.

Here’s what you may have missed from the Best Place to Work seminar sessions, chaired by the HR magazine team.


‘Good wellbeing’ is different for everyone

In order to get buy-in to a wellbeing strategy, HR must understand that 'good wellbeing' means something different to everyone, according to Hannah Pearsall, head of wellbeing at recruitment company Hays.

She said: "The starting point is to look at what wellbeing actually is, because it means different things to all of us. What are you actually trying to achieve? What will good wellbeing look like?"

She added that wellbeing strategies should be adaptable to different parts of the workforce.

"There have been some headlines lately about the wellbeing of younger generations but the workforce is increasingly intergenerational. We have to create a strategy that works for everyone while recognising people need different things. It also needs to be a strategy that recognises that what we need today will be different from what we need next week or next month."

Pearsall said the key to creating this adaptability is to make sure the strategy is cohesive and accessible.

"There will be so many different things that are part of wellbeing: benefits, EAP, a cycle-to-work scheme. But these are often in many different places on different platforms. And when people are in need of support, they are often not in a good place to go out and find all those things."

Read more: Keeping wellbeing simple

Hybrid working can be a wellbeing tool

When utilised thoughtfully, hybrid work can be a tool to increase staff wellbeing, according to Sarah Cousins, head of organisational change at British Heart Foundation (BHF).

She said the first step to a good hybrid work strategy is listening to staff needs: "We had a big listening event and talked to over 1,000 colleagues to hear what they wanted from hybrid working and what they missed about the office pre-pandemic. We also held specific focus groups to hear about people in different personal circumstances – like people with children or elderly parents, or pets.

"People's ability to focus at home, work/life balance and health and wellbeing improved through hybrid work. However, some people, especially new joiners, found it difficult to settle in and get to know colleagues when working remotely, so that was a time when we'd try and encourage some in person work.

Cousins says the event helped BHF foster in-person work, only when it is meaningful.

"We try to use the power of being together in person when it makes sense. Examples of when it does make sense to be in the office could include collaboration, building relationships, career development, or onboarding.

"Management struggled to see teams' wellbeing remotely, so we ask that one-to-ones are done in person. And we also building training about leading in hybrid working into our management training."

Read more: Hybrid working: what is the true impact?

Wellbeing at work allows better home lives

Ella West, wellbeing lead at Arqiva, said: "When we asked people across the company what their biggest mental health threat was: the most popular answer was family and children, things outside of work. But then when we asked what always brings them a smile… the answer was also family and children."

Arqiva used these survey results to build their wellbeing strategy around supporting positive wellbeing for both work and home lives.

"Our wellbeing vision to is to support whole-person wellbeing. We want to help our people to be the best version of themselves at work and still have time and energy for life outside of work," she said.


Correla does things differently

Uncapped annual leave, hiring without probation, and early wage access are just three of a range of changes implemented by the HR team at Correla, a tech company for the energy industry.

The team scrapped all of the business’ people policies – including grievance and disciplinary policies – in favour of staff guidelines and principles, and did away with annual performance reviews, as part of an improvement process that began in March 2021. The change programme has resulted in Correla employees reporting a satisfaction score of 92%.

“We expect our people to be responsible, and to behave like adults,” explained Maggie Fox, Correla’s head of people services, wellbeing and reward, “and we want our benefits to be relevant to the whole workforce.”

With that vision firmly in mind, and considering that 15% of Correla’s workforce are carers, Fox introduced uncapped leave and gender-neutral parental leave that foster parents can also make use of.

“We’ve had more men than women take parental leave in the last year,” she added, before explaining that the business also has a buddy system to support employees returning to work from parental leave.

Advocating for an approach to HR that empowers colleagues and meets people where they are, Fox said: “I firmly believe that one size doesn’t fit all.”


Crucial peer support system combats trauma

The RSPCA’s health and safety team has set up a peer support system to help frontline colleagues deal with both work-related and personal trauma.

The move has resulted in around 100 referrals so far, and was launched in April 2021, in recognition of the distressing images and situations that first responders bear witness to during the course of their working lives.

Having worked as an RSPCA inspector during the course of his career, Ben Strangwood, now health and safety advisor for the charity, explained to seminar attendees that is acutely aware of the stresses that frontline colleagues can experience. During his detailed talk, he set out how he established the trauma risk management system of peer support, known as Trim.

“Trim is a confidential service but the anonymised feedback we’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Strangwood, who also explained the challenges faced by users and managers of the system.

The RSPCA now has 20 Trim practitioners within the charity, supported by four Trim managers who are organised and supported by a dedicated Trim coordinator. Staff members who volunteer to be trained in supporting other colleagues as part of the Trim service do so alongside their existing roles.

Thanks to Trim, 64% of RSPCA employees feel more cared for by the organisation, the charity’s wellbeing survey suggests, which is an increase from 37% before Trim was implemented.