Ipswich Building Society have bucked the trend of many financial institutions, in fact many businesses, by expanding and growing during the economic downturn.
Part of their success is their investment in their people – investment in their wellbeing. Chief executive, Paul Winter, says that an employee wellbeing programme does not need a lot of time and money.
Over the last four years they have been incredibly successful at reducing employee sickness absence and staff turnover which, naturally, increases productivity and leads to improved bottom-line results.
My conversations with Paul began when I saw him interviewed on BBC Breakfast as part of a report on the importance of taking a lunch break. I was curious to see how they encourage this at the Building Society and how this impacts on performance.
Paul began by telling me that the first step for them was to give people permission to take a break. That permission is not just about having a policy but about actively encouraging it, walking the talk by ensuring that he takes a break himself and questioning colleagues who are not stopping for lunch.
But lunch breaks are only part of their wellbeing programme. This also includes:
- Focus on fitness including lunchtime walking groups and encouragement to get involved in physical challenges such as their month-long pedometer initiative.
- Relaxation – A Wii console with Wii fit is available along with various activities such as desk yoga, board games and puzzles.
- Nutrition – nutrition advice is available on their intranet and on posters around the office.
- External speakers on relevant topics including one recently about cancer.
- Tapping into NHS services offering wellbeing check-ups for the over 40s
- Paying particular attention to signs of stress and other emotional and mental health challenges
- Working hours – a culture that demonstrates that long working hours are not acceptable. If someone is working longer hours than they should, it is their manager’s responsibility to investigate and find a solution.
These are just a flavour of the recipe for success that Paul and the rest of the society have created. All of these mixed together with a big dollop of fun. The employees are encouraged to have a laugh together during the working day and also get involved in a lot of fun fund-raising activities.
To find out more take a look at these two articles http://www.ibs.co.uk/media-centre/press-release/163-healthy-business-for-healthy-society-case-study and http://www.health4work.nhs.uk/blog/2013/02/benefits-of-humble-lunch-break-wellbeing-productivitydecreased-sickness-absence/ .