Throughout my career, I have been passionate about flourishing workplaces and the philosophy that when you free people from constraint you are rewarded with increased performance. Wellbeing in the workplace is starting to get the recognition it deserves but it is important to note that these interventions may appear soft; however, they have a clear impact on the bottom line. That is why I am sharing my full story at the forthcoming Wellbeing at Work conference in my home town of Edinburgh on 26 April.
When I joined CSMA Club two years ago (one of the UK’s largest membership organisations) as Head of People & Culture, we were an old fashioned, hierarchical, silo’d organisation. Departments didn’t work together and there was a huge blame/back covering culture that was holding staff and the company back. The organisation was overstaffed and we had roles that no-one really understood. I arrived in January 2014 with a remit to restructure and to build a successful and engaging culture in advance of a change of brand.
So how did I do it? It was a challenging time for the business because the restructure involved reorganising each department, ensuring individuals had the correct roles and that everyone understood what everyone else does and why. After dealing with over 70 grievances/appeals in first twelve months, we now have no employee issues and everyone understands the direction of travel for the business.
Stress was the foremost reason for sickness back in 2014 and since clarity has been established in terms of roles and outcomes, this has been reduced to zero. We have regular education sessions on mental health and all our managers are able to hold conversations on the subject. We have also introduced mindfulness workshops and have plans to take this further later this year after fantastic initial results. Having both the Executive and line managers ‘buy-in’ to your ideas and culture is critical to a successful wellbeing initiative that works across the entire organisation.
How have we managed all of the changes? We became a strengths based organisation, utilising positive psychology principles. All of our people from the Executive to the office cat have been through the same strengths sessions and understand how to utilise individual strengths and those of others. This gives a platform for genuine team-working that spans the whole organisation. We are one team not a collective of departments.
Interestingly, this approach has opened up opportunities for people and we have individuals moving into roles they would previously not have been recognised for. We’re not quite at the self managing team stage – like Burtzorg – but we do have self generating project groups who come together to find best ways of dealing with issues/tasks.
CSR is high in our people’s agenda and we are establishing a charitable Foundation to better support the activities we do in our local communities. We have found that this initiative has gained strong interest from the majority of staff.
We are still on our journey, we continue to innovate and learn from others. The workplace wellbeing agenda is now gaining traction at board level and the reason is simple – a lot of these interventions may appear soft but they have a clear impact on the bottom line. Here are some of our top-line stats:
- Low recruitment costs due to a very low turnover and great staff retention
- Very low absence rates
- No ER cases – non-legal expenditure & no tribunal cases
- Management time freed to concentrate on achievement and innovation
We are currently 18 months ahead of our business plan and the last two years has been an exciting and fulfilling journey for everyone at CSMA Club. There are challenges along the way but my passion for flourishing workplaces is stronger than ever and I can’t wait to share my experiences at the forthcoming Wellbeing at Work event.
The Wellbeing at Work event is a one-day conference in Edinburgh on 26 April & in London on 19 October for business leaders, HR professionals and consultants to learn from experts and peers about the latest wellbeing developments and successes that are enhancing individual and organisational performance in companies across the UK & Europe. Further details atwww.wellbeingatworkevent.com
Ailsa Suttie, CSMA Club