Living our values

As a small but growing business, change is a way of life here at PES. The pace never seems to slow down, so it’s vital that we retain people, handle change well and stay cheerful.

Wellbeing – although we prefer to call it happiness – is embedded into our organisational culture. We listen to employees and give them ownership of key business decisions. Our four company values were defined through an all-staff workshop, and these are the driving force behind our wellbeing strategy.

If it weren’t for the talks on wellbeing and nutrition I’d probably be eating chocolate, biscuits and cake every day and hating the thought of exercise. Now I love exercise and hate missing a lunchtime in the gym.

Do the right thing

Rather than impose a wellbeing agenda, we felt that ‘do the right thing’ meant asking people what their concerns were, so we conducted online and face-to-face health assessments. People were worried primarily about being unfit and overweight, and 40% wanted to do more exercise. Stress also came up as a potential issue. We introduced a range of wellbeing measures, then repeated the assessments a year later.

What did we offer our staff?

  • Talks on nutrition, hydration and healthy eating by external experts.
  • A nutritional Christmas quiz.
  • All-staff physical activity sessions, including dodgeball and tag rugby.
  • Individual gym programmes designed by an external fitness expert.
  • Yoga sessions delivered by an external teacher.
  • Free fruit available in the office.
  • Talk on financial wellbeing from an external expert.
  • Workshop on ‘discovering your bounce’ – practical tips for managing stress and feeling energetic.
  • In-house workshops on building resilience.

And here’s what changed when we repeated the health assessments

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Employee benefits

Employee benefits are a key part of our wellbeing strategy, and another way in which we ‘do the right thing’ for our teams. We give each employee a number of core benefits, and a flexible benefit fund with extra benefits to choose from.

Core benefits include a health cash plan, which actively encourages employees to take care of themselves and feel positive about the money they’re saving. The cash plan includes access to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), with emotional support available from qualified counsellors.

Shopping perks and rewards

Another very popular core benefit is discounted shopping, helping people save on day-to-day purchases and enjoy work/life balance with discounted leisure activities. Employees can shop from thousands of high street retailers and earn reward points – or WOW points – for using the site. This creates further savings and a sense of financial wellbeing. WOW points are used to reward staff achievements too.

The great news is that our online shopping portal is included free for our clients with happypeople!

As a new recruit, being given a simple, two-page ‘rules of engagement’ document rather than a boring staff handbook was really refreshing and made me feel I was being treated like a grown-up!

Refreshingly different

We pride ourselves on not doing things quite by the book, and as wellbeing extends to all our procedures, we ‘freshened up’ some of our HR processes to make life easier for employees. We created a new, looser template for 1-2-1 appraisals and replaced our staff handbook with much simpler ‘rules of engagement’.

Flexible working is a simple way to create wellbeing. If people have a heavy commute, they can work for an hour at home before coming in to avoid the rush hour.

Working together

We really want to promote inter-departmental working so we’ve created houses, or teams, who share responsibility for delivering initiatives that improve our lives and help the business. Houses organise away-days, charity events, sweepstakes and more. They also take on business challenges, such as delivering learning and development sessions for colleagues, or producing our internal newsletter. A bit of healthy competition never went amiss so houses also win WOW points and prizes for their achievements!

A collaborative environment

Here’s how we make sure our environment supports wellbeing.

  • Hot-desking keeps us in touch with colleagues in different buildings.
  • We have varied workspaces with a mix of traditional desks, sofas and high benches.
  • Relaxing décor in breakout/recreation areas helps us to stay creative.
  • Group games at lunchtime in breakout areas (playing cards, fantasy football) bring us together.
  • We work in light, airy spaces, keeping us happy, relaxed and communicative.

Having fun

Having fun goes hand-in-hand with wellbeing and is part of our culture. Most of our wellbeing initiatives embody this value. One example is an away-day where we visited a restaurant and worked in teams to create and serve a healthy meal based on advice given by a nutritionist. We also had a competition to identify unusual fruit and vegetables, with the whole box going to the winner. We combined working together, fun and wellbeing into a single event.

Away-days take place at least twice a year and always include a team-building activity. Who’d have thought sheep-herding could be fun? But we’ve done it, and we’ve also locked ourselves in rooms, only to escape using a mix of cunning clues and lateral thinking!

The health and wellbeing strategy has led to me quitting smoking, getting in the gym and eating better. The mind-set of everyone is infectious and I’m far healthier than I was before Christmas.

How do we evaluate wellbeing?

Our mantra is happy people, happy business. Quite apart from measurable outcomes, we believe it just makes sense to create a happy workplace.

That said, measurement matters, so we also pay attention to results. No single evaluation tool encompasses everything that impacts on wellbeing, especially within budget for a smaller business, so we use a range of options.

Measuring physical wellbeing

As well as health-related measurement tools, we also measured the following after year one:

  • 75% take-up of F2F health assessments
  • 95% take-up of online health checks
  • 60% engagement with physical interventions
  • 95% involvement with team days, during which people were involved in key company decisions.

We monitor the impact of all our wellbeing events. After a lunchtime yoga session we found that:

  • Over 90% of attendees felt it reduced their stress levels
  • 75% felt more focused and ready to return to work.

Employee survey results

We had a 100% response rate for our recent employee survey. The results were very positive – here are some highlights.

  • 100% of employees said they agree / strongly agree with the following statements:
    • The culture at PES enables and supports me to be happy & productive at work
    • My manager seems to care about me as a person
    • I feel my views and comments are listened to
  • 97%  agree / strongly agree: I would recommend PES as an employer to a friend or family member.
  • 94% agree / strongly agree: This last year I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

I’ve found it refreshingly different coming to work for a company which uses their values every day to increase staff wellbeing. From health and nutrition sessions, which has led to an ever-expanding gym posse getting fit at lunchtime, to on-site health checks, which has been a real eye opener about my own health and wellbeing.

What’s next?

Wellbeing is an ongoing commitment for us, so we keep on honing our strategy and adding to the mix. We’re investing in our line managers by offering training, and making sure that job roles are clear and well-defined. We know wellbeing is as much about behaviours, attitudes and processes as it is about health, relationships and having fun, so they will stay on our radar. And of course, we’ll keep on asking our employees what matters most to them.

Contact us

We’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch to find out how our workplace wellbeing team can help your business, or whether happypeople is the right employee benefits solution for you.