Sustainable Workplaces Project
Creating a productive, engaged and high performing culture
Health and wellbeing has been rising on the agenda for a while, and COVID has brought this into sharp focus; protecting employees from illness, as well as managing work and operations disrupted by working days lost has become a priority and affects profits. However, a sustainable workplace is not about running a few Pilates classes or offering free fruit; it is about creating a culture that allows wellbeing to thrive in the long term. Our client was managing increasing wellbeing issues in a particular department that was affecting the performance and cost of the department. Seasonal illnesses, stress absences and physical impacts of the work were culminating in strikes, union activity, working days lost and notably reduced productivity. Cultural characteristics were being complained about by staff, but the client did not notice the connection with lost productivity and rising staff costs.
What we did
Using our Sustainable Workplace model, we conducted a cultural and wellbeing review of the department, collecting and analysing data (sickness data, rota and team productivity data, employee engagement surveys etc) and interviewing a series of department members. We identified their current situation, i.e. that there was an issue affecting productivity, engagement, and staffing costs, and identified linked causes where possible. We presented the findings from a holistic perspective so that the client could see the accumulated impact of physical, emotional and mental wellbeing on productivity. We made a series of recommendations, but most importantly we addressed a cultural characteristic of them vs. us (leaders vs. floor staff) which had led to lack of listening and insight into the connectivity of issues.
Our outcomes identified physical causes such as the physical nature of repetitive tasks correlating directly with a trend for long-term staff to be more likely to take long term sickness due to needing hip/knee/shoulder operations. We showed the increase in working days lost from seasonal flu and gastrointestinal issues correlated with a previous change to a cheaper cleaning supplier and decrease in cleanliness. Emotional stresses were linked to line management capability, and cost cutting in training line and middle managers was reversed to enable better team working and people management. Unfortunately, COVID and lockdown occurred soon after and redundancies had to be initiated, but the client retained the commitment to nurture a sustainable workplace that will produce a productive, engaged and high performing culture.