Review by Carrie Westwell
Director of People & Culture
This past year continued to be a year of some turbulence from a pandemic perspective, however, our teams not only continued to deliver excellent levels of performance but the overall engagement with our colleagues has improved year on year as measured by the Best Companies survey.
Most importantly, we were able to create action plans following the feedback from our teams to deliver further improvements with the key areas of focus areas being Personal Growth, Giving Something Back and Wellbeing. We were able to share all our progress and plans at our recent whole-company event ‘The Big Catch Up’ which was the first conference held since 2019.
Developing Our People
Throughout 2021/22, we have continued to focus on the development of our people to help them realise their possibility and progress with our ambitious future plans.
With continued utilisation of online delivery and a move back into the workspaces through that period, we completed over 2,095 hours of training covering a range of topics from role specific through to personal development and individual coaching.
Recognising the importance of developing our people, we now have a colleague who is dedicated to Personal Development & Early Careers with a key focus on working with our apprentices across the business which are at an all-time high whilst also supporting the continuation of our Next Gen Development programme, of which our second cohort embarked on in January this year, providing reverse mentoring to our executive team as part of the programme.
We have also focused on further team development with strategy and away days, with more to follow later this year. The year ahead includes developing our offering even further including an update to the in-house management development programme to a more modular and tailored programme suited to the individual needs of our colleagues.
Investment in Wellbeing
A positive that was retained following the pandemic was a renewed focus on colleague wellbeing.
In addition to our Mental Health First Aiders, we have trained 21 new Wellbeing Champions for a more holistic approach to promoting and championing positive changes to wellbeing in the workplace. In January 2022, we launched our first wellbeing survey to find out how our people were feeling regarding their physical, mental, social and financial wellbeing.
Acting on the Best Companies feedback, our first Financial Wellbeing Week was held in April 2022 which included financial wellbeing webinars and drop-in sessions with our benefit partners to help our people make the most of the benefits available.
The champions have also created monthly plans creating events, communications and webinars to support all four pillars of wellbeing across the year. Events and activities include a ‘Random Act of Kindness Day’ virtual wall, ‘Time to Talk’ Day, Mental Health Awareness Week brew & a biscuit sessions, as well as various webinars around menopause, men’s health and meditation. They’ve also supported the introduction of some new policies, supporting those going through menopause and retirement planning support.
Our annual health checks for all colleagues took a pause throughout the pandemic, so it’s been great to see the re-introduction of those checks with almost 50% of colleagues signing up.
Clarity and investment in our total reward package
To support our wellbeing agenda, we reviewed and improved the offering with health benefits extending group life insurance cover to all colleagues and introducing critical illness cover. Working with our partners in health benefits, we now have a comprehensive range of services to offer our colleagues from GP services to counselling support and more.
We’ve also continued to evolve our bonus programme with the aim to personally reward performance throughout the group through measured and communicated bonus schemes for everyone. This has been further developed this year, linking closely to our strategic goals so everyone can understand how they can make a difference.