Next in our series of HR Insights we focus on some of the current challenges’ facing organisations around the mental health and wellbeing of their employees.
When the pandemic first hit the priority for most businesses was putting robust plans and systems in place to support remote working. With working from home now pretty much the norm, we thought it would be useful to gain some insights into what longer term strategies organisations should be putting in place to support employees and line managers with their mental health and overall wellbeing.
We spoke to Mike Thompson – who runs a wellbeing company that advises organisations around wellbeing and engagement. Additionally we spoke to two senior HR professionals, Anna Lees Head of Engagement & Growth at Refinitiv and Jonathan Mayes Head of HR for Technology, Operations & Central Functions and Head of ER at TSB Bank to gain some insight into what their organisations have embedded to support their employees.
Below we hear from Jonathan Mayes, Head of HR for Technology, Operations & Central Functions and Head of ER at TSB Bank.
Jon is the Head of HR Business Partnering and Employee Relations for TSB. He has most recently been responsible for supporting the technology function in the design and build of a new operating model for CIO, data and digital and is currently leading the Future Ways of Working Programme for the Bank.
We are moving into a new era where longer term flexible working environments and remote working is becoming the norm. What challenges is this new way of working presenting organisations when it comes to employee mental health and wellbeing?
In our most recent engagement survey our colleagues perception of wellbeing support had increased since the start of the pandemic and a significant majority feel that the organisation is supporting their wellbeing and work life balance well – which is brilliant, but we mustn’t be complacent. It’s important to remember that just over 60% of our colleagues are working from a branch or one of our sites serving our customers brilliantly day in, day out. We must continue to ensure we provide a safe working environment for them whilst understanding the challenges everyone is facing whether it is childcare, self-isolation or for those working at home, being detached from colleagues.
How has this evolved from when COVID first hit, now you have navigated the initial challenges around remote working?
Our priority was to keep serving our customers – whilst keeping our customers and employees safe - and that meant ensuring that our branches could continue to work under COVID restrictions and that our telephone teams could continue to talk to our customers – so a large part of our organisation wasn’t working remotely. We very quickly advanced our plans to allow us to serve customers more digitally and we were able to do the same with our people plans – we quickly clarified our approach to colleagues who needed to self-isolate or look after children. We brought forward the launch of the UnMind App to support with wellbeing, created a specific intranet page that consolidated existing support tools and resources (including webinars and a guide to ‘checking in’ with your team to ensure they were well supported) and continued with our excellent manager programme where there was already a heavy focus on wellbeing and managing teams in a range of environments.
During this year we have also launched our Carers Policy which allows our colleagues who have specific caring responsibilities up to 2 weeks paid leave a year to support them. Communication has been key; the CEO regularly speaks to both senior leaders and the whole organisation and managers have increased the frequency of their meetings to ensure everyone remains connected.
What are the challenges you need to be aware of as you look to the future in this space?
We have been thinking hard about future ways of working for TSB. We want to find the right balance between the importance of face-to-face interaction for collaboration, innovation and team connectivity and the benefits of home working, making sure we do what’s best for our customers, our teams, and individuals. In the future, our sites will be used to connect, collaborate and learn in person and colleagues can split time flexibly between sites and home depending on their role and personal circumstances. This won’t be a one size fits all model and will vary by team.
We are working with our property and IT teams to ensure we combine the human, physical and digital elements of this future working. From an HR perspective we need to make sure that we have a strategy and suite of polices that ensures we drive an inclusive culture for all of our colleagues and are able to continue to attract diverse talent to our organisation