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Home Group: Why Colleague Wellbeing is Something Worth Celebrating

Home Group: Why Colleague Wellbeing is Something Worth Celebrating

Home Group was recently listed in the Top 10 Great Places to Work 2020 survey for the second year running. Susan Fulton, Director of People at Home Group, explains why the housing association ranked above a longlist of blue-chip multinationals.

The Great Places to Work survey recognises the best workplaces in the UK that are leading the way in developing award-winning cultures. As a super-large organisation with more than 2,500 employees, we were delighted to once again be named in the top 10 in the UK.

This is just part of a much bigger picture at Home Group. We also made Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers Index for the second year running and, in July, were named as the sixth best workplace for women in the UK alongside global companies such as Hilton and Gap.

At the heart of all these accolades are our values – accountable, commercial, caring and energised – which drive our workplace culture and underpin everything we do. Colleagues love working at Home Group because of our social purpose; we believe in equality for all and our colleagues actively change lives every day.

Central to our culture is putting colleague wellbeing first. We offer a range of award-winning benefits including generous paid holiday, competitive salaries, flexible working options and special leave requirements, all so that our colleagues don’t have to miss out on life’s special moments.

On top of this we also offer pension and life assurance cover, access to our 24-hour counselling and advice service, discounts in over 800 online shops and enhanced maternity and adoption leave. We also give two extra paid days of annual leave for colleagues to use for volunteering.

We’re always looking for ways to make things better for colleagues so we’ve replaced annual appraisals with Brilliant Conversations, to enable people to catch up more regularly. We also made learning super accessible to support progression and development and encouraged agile ways of working – something that has helped us transition since Covid-19.

Things don’t just stop with colleagues though. We always strive to ensure the wellbeing of our customers is at the forefront of everyone’s minds as well, whether that’s through financial advice and supporting communities or listening to their concerns and making improvements.

Since Covid-19?

The wellbeing of our colleagues has been an integral part of our work since Covid-19. Early on we made the decision that those who could work from home, should. This was before lockdown and our IT team ensured everyone had the kit and information they needed to work effectively and safely from home.

With our workforce now largely dispersed, we wanted to ensure the lack of physical contact between colleagues wasn’t having a negative effect. Home Group rolled out pulse surveys every two weeks to ask how people were feeling and coping with the change. Most importantly, we acted on any trends or concerns colleagues had.

Communication was and continues to be extremely important. There have been weekly updates to all staff from the Chief Executive – both in email form and via video. We also enhanced our Brilliant Conversations with Wellbeing Brilliant Conversations which managers use to make sure their teams are ok on both a personal and professional level.

The overriding message from the organisation to colleagues is that we are not expecting business as usual. Flexibility is key, especially for those juggling work with childcare, home-schooling or even the virus itself. Some colleagues also stepped up to become emergency responders, while others moved into teams or departments that found themselves under added pressure or short-staffed.

Management skills are key during change and we have designed and launched a Brilliant Remote Management programme. This provides managers with the tools they need to engage and support their teams during these new ways of working.

As a result of the pulse surveys, we created new wellbeing pages on our intranet to ensure all resources were in one easily accessible place. This included bite-size learning, podcasts, videos on mental health, remote working guides and home-schooling resources. We also launched Seven Days of Wellbeing which included a calendar of sessions and activities to support colleagues who were struggling or needed more support.

We found it was sometimes the simplest gestures that made a big impact on our colleague wellbeing. A message from the Chief Executive encouraged people to take time off and we gave all colleagues an extra half day annual leave. We also provided everyone with two reusable face masks.

While there’s still plenty to work on during this unprecedented and often changing time, we know our efforts have been widely appreciated by our colleagues. Staff turnover is down and our colleagues have told us they feel valued and grateful to be at Home Group. That’s the biggest accolade we could get.

Images courtesy of Home Group

Thanks to Susan Fulton at Home Group for sharing this article. Find out more about Home Group here.

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