Denise Airey, director of Airey Miller, an affordable housing consultancy, explains why her company signed up for Forrest health and Wellbeing’s support, and the benefits the company has seen from it.
We’ve been going since 1994, and we’ve learnt that the more you give your staff, the more you get from them. I think you get more out of people if you treat them as humans, but until now there hasn’t been enough for employers or employees in terms of supporting them as people – typically it’s all very corporate: you support your employees by paying them well.
But to get the most out of staff you need to support them as well; you could have a great team member who’s not doing a great job because they have no work-life balance or mental health issues. Forrest Health and Wellbeing’s packages plug that gap to enable businesses to support their staff to address these issues.
Effective health and wellbeing support for businesses and staff is needed more than ever – coronavirus and lockdown has completely battered people. Even if we have vaccines in place by the end of this year, people still need to recover mentally and financially – and as employers we need to help them.
We have seen it manifest in our staff in so many ways . When we had the first lockdown in March, as employers we had to react incredibly quickly. We didn’t know how long it would last so we took the option to cut pay as we wanted to restrict redundancies – the way we look at it is that we have 60 mortgages to pay, and we didn’t want any of our staff not to be able to pay their mortgage.
People’s responses have surprised us, and there was no pattern to how they responded, no way of predicting from their previous behaviours. One or two people were really afraid, and they got angry – someone at senior level was petrified of catching the virus – others had real fears about the situation that they had to work through.
I found myself alone in the trenches in a way that I hadn’t anticipated, but it did make me aware that if we went into a second lockdown we would have to widen the support net that we offered.
Forrest Health & Wellbeing have carried out a staff survey and delivered some of their presentations to our staff. The whole package is much better than I was expecting – there is so much thought and research that has gone into it.
The feedback from the staff survey was very good; we have lots of quality control systems in place, but they’re all very corporate and the staff had never had anything like this before, when the company was being examined in this dimension and they were being asked out themselves as people. The presentations, especially the mental health one, have gone down very well.
The benefits to us as a business is that our employees know that we care about them as humans. The more staff you get, the more issues with mental health and wellbeing you are going to get, and not everyone is going to feel comfortable about being open about it.
Bringing in this outside support shows them that their employer is looking out for their mental health, which is going to foster a more open culture. And, as business owners, we know that the more we support our staff, the more they give to us.