Fair Ways were recently featured on HRD Connect – discussing our approach towards wellbeing at work and making this as impactful and personal as possible.
The article can be found below.
Wellbeing at work is an area that has leapfrogged to the top of the priority list for many companies, and will most likely hold this coveted position for many years to come. While this is great, something that many of us have been pushing for, it comes with its own set of challenges – how do we break down the barriers to let wellbeing ‘in’, overcoming many of the stigmas that are associated with it so that our employees (and businesses) reap the benefits?
To answer this question, let me share with you a story of how one company has been tackling this challenge, and then share some actions for you to consider at your company.
The company is Fair Ways, a charity-owned children’s service provider in the south of England that provides a broad range of services to vulnerable young people in care. And the story begins when Harriett Whitren-Jones, Head of HR, joined in April 2020 with a mission of bringing wellbeing to life.
“Fair Ways aspires to have employees that are healthy and engaged to ensure they remain in their best self at work. It is more important than ever that we provide our employees with an environment that encourages and enables healthy lives so they can make choices that support positive wellbeing, and can thrive inside and outside of work. We’ve developed a wellbeing framework that goes beyond the legal standards, striving to provide our employees with the tools, knowledge and surroundings to make improvements to their own health and wellbeing, in turn, helping them to take the benefits to our service users and into the wider community” says Whitren-Jones.
“We wanted to move to a proactive approach to wellbeing, not just focussing on fixing problems but raising awareness and giving our employees the tools to address them before the pieces have to be picked up. We wanted to ensure that culturally wellbeing became a part of who we are and how we talk in our everyday language and lives, reducing the stigma of mental health.”
And given the critical services that they provide, which have only increased in volume and impact during the pandemic, this mission and this approach is absolutely essential to support the people who provide so much support themselves.
They started on their journey by introducing a programme called ‘Be your best self’, which brings together and links all of the elements of wellbeing in a holistic and meaningful way. Here are a few elements of the programme:
It’s still early days in their wellbeing journey, but they’ve already found that employees are talking more openly and are engaging with the programme, showing that they’re on their way to achieve their mission. “Wellbeing is becoming a part of our culture, of who we are, what we represent, and where we want to be, bleeding through into everything we do – we really do ‘put people before profit’” said Whitren-Jones
As you can see, even a company like Fair Ways, where their workforce deals with mental health on a daily basis, has barriers to break down when it comes to wellbeing. They’ve shared some great ways they’re doing it, and here are some additional tips, or what I call the 3 A’s, that will help you get that sledgehammer out and start breaking down the barriers at your company:
It all starts with awareness, helping employees be self-aware so they can recognise their own symptoms before they become a problem. At Fair Ways, this is a big part of their proactive approach, putting in place programmes to make sure that the “walls” are not built in the first place.
This can, as I’m sure you’ve seen, be a challenge as you’ll first need your employees to take that first step, because, as the expression goes “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink it”. The more you can do to make the ‘water’ so enticing over and over again that they want and need to drink it, the better chance you have for them to take that first step and take a ‘sip’.
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