At Northumbrian Water Group (NWG) we have a value of ‘One Team’, we truly believe that to be successful as a business requires us to collaborate and share challenge so we can share success. We have invested in becoming a Great Place to Work (UK Top 25 Super Large) and a large part of that comes from investing in and supporting our people so they can remain customer focused and deliver a great service.
We took a challenge all organisations were facing – how to care for colleague wellness when the pandemic was creating uncertainty, loneliness and ill health – and looked at it in a different way, a uniquely human way. We set out to deliver increased employee wellbeing (self reported measure), maintained attendance to “keep Britain flowing” (meet or exceed previous winter) and help colleagues be as happy and healthy as possible whilst working and increased engagement with our wellbeing offering (interaction/uptake).Collaboration was critical and HR orchestrated an ambitious project with diverse membership, bringing together different people with totally different perspectives to ensure rich and robust thinking, including an Health & Safety, Occupational Psychologist, Internal Communications, D&I, Customer, IT, Innovation Team and Union Representatives.
The outcome was the development and launch of our Hygge-style Living Well website, built upon sensory content such as images and sounds rather than large amounts of text. Every piece of content and experience mapping went through our unique Hygge filter – does it align with the ethos and does it create a calm, confident and simple user experience?
Outcome: A site spilt in to ‘mind’, ‘body’ and ‘social’ – the three primary areas of human wellness. New and existing services, programmes and content were developed and is continually refreshed:
Mind: Resources included mental resilience, an EAP support line and Mental Health First Aid service, Male Mental Health Zone and Financial Wellness sessions and support.
Body: A Digital GP service, free flu jabs, sleep support and physical workout sessions. A Covid hub for employees and accompanying managers’ portal to provide up to date information. This ensured that the element of uncertainty was taken away from employees as much as possible during this period.
Social: A live schedule of events, colleague recommended Spotify lists, seasonal shared recipes, fortnightly giveaways and a colleague gallery, encouraging outdoor pictures to remind colleagues to embrace physical activity.
‘Living Well’ is available 24/7 and accessible from any device meaning our predominantly male operational staff can easily access the resources, including shift workers.
- A highly accessible Health & Safety handbook and digital guidance resources including an online Coronavirus hub which employees and managers could use to stay up to date with the latest information on the pandemic including best health and safety practise. The hub provided guidance on social distancing, rules around self-isolation and what to do if you came into contact with someone who tested positive, plus we also offered awareness sessions and support for colleagues who were feeling concerned and unsure about whether to go ahead and get the Coronavirus vaccine.
- Toolbox talks on everything safety related from PPE and wearing masks, how to safely enter a customers’ home if needed, correct hygiene and handwashing and steps to take when returning carrying out essential work in our offices
- Support for home workers including the provision of digital equipment for over 100 employees (laptop, screen, desk chairs, mobile device), and a Cardinus desk assessment for employees to make sure they were working in a safe and comfortable manner in their own homes.
- Return to work page on Living Well for employees such as our contact centre staff, once they began to return to office working for essential services. This included mental health support including a step by step pathway on actions to take before returning to work, health and safety guidance on distancing PPE temperature checks and handwashing, plus information on support services for employees who were feeling anxious about the return such as our EAP Hotline and Mental Health First Aid Service.