EXCLUSIVE: The Poppy Factory uses organisational values to embed wellbeing

Employee Benefits Live 2019: Veterans charity The Poppy Factory has used its organisational values to help implement a four-pronged wellbeing strategy.

Speaking on day one of Employee Benefits Live 2019, Charlotte Dymock, HR business partner at The Poppy Factory, explained how staff wellbeing is not simply about free fruit and yoga classes. In her session, titled ‘A picture of health: Aligning benefits and wellbeing initiatives’, Dymock highlighted how employee wellness is instead about how staff work, and having an organisational culture that encourages employees to bring their whole selves to work.

Dymock told delegates within the health benefits conference stream that The Poppy Factory’s strategy has to address business-specific wellbeing challenges; this includes accommodating staff with disabilities or health conditions, tailoring for an ageing workforce and mitigating the effects of isolation for remote employees.

With this in mind, The Poppy Factory used its four organisational values, adaptability, collaboration, empowerment and having a sense of purpose, to influence the creation and implementation of its new wellbeing strategy.

Dymock explained: “Our values are key for how we implement wellbeing, [and] were developed with input from all staff. They are fiercely data-driven, based on feedback from staff surveys, exit interviews, and HR absence data and they’re overseen by a staff working group, [which] designed and led an away day for all staff to talk about what working for The Poppy Factory meant to them and what was central to their experience at work.”

For example, linking to the adaptability value, The Poppy Factory equips staff to manage stress and deal with changes, helping employees improve their resilience. Corresponding to the sense of purpose value, the charity empowers its employees to take responsibility for their own overall wellbeing; this is reinforced through The Poppy Factory’s values-led recognition and reward programme.

The Poppy Factory’s wellbeing strategy focuses on four pillars: positive culture and environment, mental health and resilience, social wellbeing and financial wellbeing. Dymock noted that the charity does not have a wellbeing budget, so the implementation of any initiatives typically engages the charity’s partnerships, or signposts staff to free or low-cost resources, such as the employee assistance programme (EAP) or online information.

Within the positive culture and environment bracket, The Poppy Factory introduced its values-based recognition scheme and issued more guidance around flexible working; linked to this, it implemented different forms of leave, such as sabbaticals, study leave and reservist leave.

For employee mental health, the charity conducted mental health first aid training, introduced champions, held personal resilience workshops and also trained managers around reasonable adjustments.

To boost social wellbeing, The Poppy Factory created informal networks, as well as hosted organisation-wide events, such as trips to free venues like museums, where the charity paid for staff to have lunch.

Initiatives around financial wellbeing include workshops on financial planning and retirement, delivered in partnership with HSBC, and an employee discount scheme.

The Poppy Factory measured the success of its wellbeing approach as part of its annual staff survey. This found that 84% of employees felt that their managers cared about how satisfied they were in their jobs, while 76% thought that The Poppy Factory cared about their wellbeing. Furthermore, 71% of staff felt supported to manage their own health.

Dymock concluded: “It doesn’t matter what [an employer’s] budget is, the really key things are to make it relevant to [the] organiastion, paying attention to staff data. It doesn’t have to be something big, it can be the product of many small things which add up into something much bigger. Don’t think of it as a series of interventions, think of it as something that underlies everything that [employers] do. Regardless of budget, the principles can be scaled up.”