Lessons learned: Implementing a workplace well-being strategy

Photo of a person happy and relaxed at work

Thebe Ringner is HR manager at Thames Lido, Bristol Lido, Fish Bar and Three Brothers Burgers

“Hospitality is a million-mile-an-hour industry, and when staff go off sick it's less likely to be over a sprained ankle than it is from being overwhelmed and stressed.

Working systems can make people disillusioned and frustrated - if nothing works properly, they're more inclined to take days off or even leave altogether. So when I joined the first thing I did was streamline and organise. We got brilliant advice and support from NatWest Mentor, who helped us enormously to flip things around so instead of the chaos and the firefighting we could plan ahead. It immediately brought more structure as everyone knew where they fitted.

We held well-being training days, which taught our managers how to look out for their teams, how to spot if someone is having a bad day and gauge if it's down to outside events or because of what we're doing.

They also made staff feel valued; our training encouraged managers to view everyone as individuals. We'll get happier, more productive staff if we induct them properly and take a genuine interest. Everyone in all departments and sites did this training, which again makes people feel invested.

We ran employment engagement surveys, and looked at perks - we can't afford huge incentives, but we can give all staff a free lido membership worth £700. I'd advise companies to look at your resources, and staff demographic, so you can offer something they'll really want. Our other resources are ex-staff - some are now yoga teachers or PTs so they do sessions as well.

At the heart is two-way communication - just inviting ideas, suggestions, comments. Sometimes you'll be telling staff things they may not want to hear, but listen genuinely and empathetically and encouragingly.”

Hilary Austin is finance director at Check-It Scaffold Services in Glasgow and Lanarkshire

“Workplace well-being is about creating a space, physical or virtual, where people can have honest and open conversations. Like many businesses, we've had to manage staff returning from furlough and everyone's different - some couldn't wait to get back, others needed a little encouragement, and others were prepared to return but still worried about the virus.

So it was about sitting down with them and properly listening to their concerns. I listed our safeguards but it's about more than just saying 'well, we've done this' - one staff member still felt uncomfortable so we teased out how else we could help her feel safe, and we listened to her, we empathised, and we resolved it. And it's not just about the employee - you promote well-being by ensuring the whole team are empathetic. Mentor helped us particularly on the practical side: the furloughing, the contracts, all of which built a solid base to help us get people back and support them when they returned.

During lockdown we understood the importance of involving everyone as much as possible. We'd previously held weekly meetings for senior managers but while remote-working we put these on Zoom and invited everyone. Now we're back physically but we've continued those meetings. That's boosted morale - just keeping everyone involved in decision-making and encouraging their opinion makes them feel valued, heard and motivated.

Getting together socially is important too and I'm looking forward to us going out again for lunch. That builds bonds too - we all deserve a reward sometimes. It doesn't have to be money - it can just be enjoying each other's company and having a good time.”

Michelle Vinter is owner and manager of Oakley Road Dental Practice in Totton, Southampton

“The past year has been stressful for everyone - but we've learned the best way to look after our staff is connection.

So, we did a Zoom Mentor course about how we could help each other. I have had a difficult year personally but this reminded me of the need to focus on how everyone is feeling, to talk and to listen sympathetically and be calm and support each other.

As a result we have a range of new processes. We have a huddle every morning where we check in on how everyone is feeling and if there's anything they want to share. Many things troubling us have nothing to do with work, but can impact on our work, so it's important for colleagues to be able to support us on a personal emotional level if we need it.

We all enjoy walks together about once a week and invite everyone to join in. We also enjoy online Pilates classes and even have a masseuse come in regularly as a special treat! A lot of well-being is about being able to switch off, or put into perspective, the strains of work, so all this gives us a chance to connect, unwind and offload away from the stress of the working day.

As for work itself, regular staff meetings give us time and space to communicate - and vent, if necessary. But I also ensure to check in with everybody personally, even if just for five minutes, which gives them opportunity to share ideas as well as concerns. That ensures little problems don't become big problems, either for individuals or the team.

These processes help us put things in perspective, to be calmer and work more effectively. Despite lockdown, we're a closer team now than we've ever been.”

How could Mentor help you

If you're an existing Mentor customer, visit MentorDigital, where we host a range of tools, templates and guidance to help you plan for the longer-term changes to ways of working, including our dedicated coronavirus hub.

If you're not an existing Mentor customer and would like to talk about how we might help your business, call us today on 0800 074 8151 or sign up to our free MentorDigital platform. Customers with hearing and speech impairments can contact us via Relay UK on 18001 0800 074 8151.

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