I had a pleasure of interviewing Ella Justin, HR Business Partner at Morgan McKinley,who spent the last 10 years working in an HR sector on numerous projects and initiatives. One of Ella's areas of expertise is workplace well-being so I talked to Ella about how well-being is received among the employees in her company and how it can essentially affect the bottom line of the business.
Q: What is the role of well-being within your business?
A: Central to our business are our people, it’s cited time and time again as the reason our employees enjoy working for us; the people and the culture. Without our people we wouldn’t have a business, so their health and well-being is key to everything we do. We believe a happy and healthy workforce is vital to our success.
Q: What does your business do to encourage well-being at work?
A: We do the usual things, fruit on the desks and subsidised gym membership, but we go beyond this, we try to get deeper into the well-being of our people.
We offer an Employee Assistance Programme to all our employees and their family, this is a counselling service but it does so much more. 24-hours a day there is someone on hand to talk through any legal or financial worries our employees may be having, as well as advice and guidance on how to deal with the more difficult situations life can sometime throw at us, completely free of charge.
Our wide range of benefits and our flexible approach to these reflect our wide range of people. We offer an array of benefits to suit everyone at any stage of their career and life.
Every year we have a week dedicated to well-being, which is called (surprisingly) Well-Being Week. We encourage our people to think about the things that matter to them and to focus on themselves. We don’t just talk about physical health and fitness, we also talk about mental well-being and remembering to relax and have fun.
A huge focus for us as at the moment is our Morgan McKinley Million Euro initiative; this is our commitment as a global business to contribute the equivalent of one million euros to good causes by the end of 2018. Not only does this mean we are doing a fantastic amount of good for the community we work within, but it also helps our people to give something back, to do something good for others. We offer paid volunteering days to help them do so and partner with a volunteering broker so they can really get the most from their days out of the office.
Q: How is this received by employees in the work place?
A: Our well-being initiatives are always well received; they have great participation and are talked about for weeks after. They give people a different focus and show that they are valued within our organisation.
Q: What plans are in place, or what do think could be done to improve well-being?
A: We can always do more, the world is constantly changing, which means the challenges people face are also changing and we need to ensure we not only adapt to these but stay one step ahead. We are currently building a broader well-being strategy which will include employee support networks, focus groups and talks throughout the year. We’ll focus our efforts on different ‘hot topics’ within the world of well-being, to ensure we are reaching the widest possible audience.
Recruitment is notoriously a ‘long hours’ culture. We are working to shift this mentality, to focus on agile working and outputs. We believe this is key to the success of our business and the well-being of our people.
Q: It has been acknowledged that mental health problems have an inherent stigma attached to them in the workplace and that occupational health is underutilised because of this, consequently leading to sickness absence issues. What initiatives do you have in place to tackle this stigma and to encourage conversation in regards to mental health?
A: Mental health is something that should never be ignored. So many people suffer in some way or another and it’s vital that they have an outlet to discuss this. Whilst our managers aren’t trained counsellors, they do have the support of our Employee Assistance programme, where they can receive advice and guidance on how to coach and support those individuals struggling with their mental health.
We have an open and honest culture here; our weekly 121's tend to be ‘check ins’; an opportunity for people to talk honestly and openly with their managers and to capture concerns or issues before they turn into something bigger.
Q: How do you think well-being at work directly affects the bottom line?
A: Our focus on well-being can benefit our society because it helps our people feel happy, competent and satisfied in their roles. The evidence shows that people who achieve good standards of well-being at work are likely to be more creative, more loyal, more productive and provide better customer satisfaction than those with poor levels of well-being at work.
Although the idea of employee engagement is only a small part of the concept of well-being, Engage for Success published a report that showed that when compared with disengaged employees, those that are engaged can mean double the net profit, a 35% increase in efficiency, 40% lower turnover, 2.5 times greater revenue growth, 12% greater customer satisfaction and 18% higher productivity, the report also showed that 59% of engaged employees are more creative compared with 3% of those that are disengaged.
Q: How do you think well-being affects staff retention and feeling valued at work?
A: You spend a majority of our life at work so it’s vital that you are happy and healthy. Frequently employers are realising that a focus on well-being is what their people want and what they deserve and if they can’t get it here, they can go somewhere else.
People want to be seen and treated as individuals and to be valued for what they can bring to the table. If organisations focus on well-being, it helps their employees feel they aren’t just a cog in a machine and that their employer genuinely cares about them.