A HAPPY workforce is a productive workforce, a fact which employers are increasingly recognising.
Employee wellbeing has been rising up the corporate agenda in recent years, much like corporate social responsibility took off the mid-1990s. The mental-health charity Mind launched its Wellbeing Index in 2016 as a benchmarking and measurement tool to help companies ‘measure their performance and improve their approach to creating a mentally healthy workplace’.
The index focuses on the following areas for organisations to consider when developing an approach to supporting employee mental health:
• Encourage openness and discussion about mental health.
• Ensure managers know what support is available to staff and can advise on how to access it.
• Ensure employees feel comfortable disclosing poor mental health.
• Review and assess mental health and wellbeing support tools.
As one of Jersey’s larger and long-established employers, receiving around 3,000 job applications a year, Jersey Electricity has been at the forefront of employee wellbeing.
It has established a wellbeing group, made up of a cross-section of employees, to discuss and promote wellbeing. Mental-health awareness training is open to all, while 11 employees are now fully trained mental-health first aiders. This team serves as a first point of contact for people in need of help and support which can also be accessed through JE’s employees’ assistance programme, Unum, which offers 24-hour confidential help and advice.
This commitment to employee welfare and wellbeing was never more evident than during the height of the pandemic when ensuring its people’s health, safety and wellbeing was paramount to JE.
To measure the effectiveness of its people-focused interventions, JE launched a Covid-specific employee engagement survey which resulted in a year-on-year improved engagement score, putting JE in the top 5% of utilities companies that used the same survey provider.
This summer, the company launched a wellbeing assessment, run by We Talk Wellbeing in conjunction with Marbral Advisory. The assessment consisted of a questionnaire to measure people’s wellbeing and the positive or negative effects employers can have.
JE director of human resources Andrew Welsby said: ‘Though similar to a questionnaire sent out to other Channel Islands employers, this was designed specifically for JE to assess our own position as an organisation, understand how we fare when benchmarked against others, and identify any opportunities to further support our people.
‘It offered us an opportunity to understand how our employees are feeling, not just about work-related issues but also physically and mentally. In doing so, we can drive some positive actions to promote wellness (whatever that looks like for individuals within our company) and understand what we need to do to continue to be an employer of choice in Jersey.
‘We asked questions over the period of a month in the areas of confidence, coping and response to stress. We also sought to understand what the key drivers of stress over the past six months had been.
‘Stress is a natural part of everyday life and perceptions of what is, or is not, stressful differ. Resilience is how able we are to anticipate, handle and overcome challenges. It was encouraging to see that 81% of respondents felt that they were able to adapt to changes most or all the time and 70% indicated they could deal with whatever comes their way.
‘Also pleasing was that a significant proportion of employees (73%), who undertook the assessment, do feel generally happy and content, and that their work and the organisation was contributing towards their feelings of happiness. This reinforces that there is a strong correlation between work and wellbeing.
‘Ensuring that wellbeing is considered part of an organisation’s strategy and integrated into policy and operations improves commitment and loyalty. Almost 80% recognised that JE invests in wellbeing and that it is part of our vision and business objectives.
‘Also, part of our vision is to be an employer of choice in Jersey, and wellbeing is a key factor in determining that. It is therefore an area we will continue to research through employee surveys and use the results to target investment in solutions in any areas we find ourselves lacking.’