Simon Group’s fruitful approach to well-being at work
Michelle Page explains how Simons Group’s ‘Building Healthier’ strategy is encouraging staff to take better care of their well-being.
Can you give us the 30-second briefing on the strategy?
“Building Healthier” was developed to support our staff engagement strategy, further to our Investor in People strategy last autumn.
As an industry we place a huge focus on safety, but we need to also be fully aware of our employees’ health and well-being.
Last year we undertook an initial “well-being day” at Simons on World Mental Health Day in October to encourage staff to have a quick health “MOT”, consider participating in local sports groups and collect literature about health initiatives.
This went down really well and there was a clear appetite to do more. The traditional view of the right tools to support employees’ health – such as occupational health, private health and employee assistance programmes – are already in place but will be combined with inspiring “healthy organisation” programmes and initiatives to improve employee health.
What initiatives will it focus on?
Simons will be looking to improve levels and increase awareness of mental health, prostate cancer and smoking cessation, along with improving levels of fitness across the workforce. Healthy eating is one of the strategy’s key focuses.
A number of well-being “champions” will be nominated from across Simons’ business units. The champions can then actively participate with HR in developing the well-being vision and plan.
And we launched “Fruit Friday” earlier in the year on a project for Sheffield Children’s Hospital. The project manager provides a selection of fruit and asks all on site to swap sweets or unhealthy snacks for fruit. This became successful very quickly and has since been adopted on some other sites.
To support mental health awareness and to recognise the impact of relationship building within the company, we are introducing an award called “Simons‘ Shoulder”, whereby employees are encouraged to nominate a colleague who has been particularly supportive or gone out of their way to help someone.
What would you say prompted the Building Healthier initiative?
For me it is taking staff engagement to the next level. We need to ensure our employees are not only happy at work but support them in being fit and healthy.
What do you think are the most innovative aspects of it?
The strategy is in its infancy and we didn’t want to do anything too radical at first to ensure that people were brought into the concept.
At present we are encouraging our employees to think about their health and well-being. For example, last month for Men’s Health Week we ordered the Men’s Health Forum’s “man manuals” and distributed these to our sites.
It sounds great, but do you think the construction sector is ready for it?
As an industry, we may not be ready, but we need to be ready. We have spent years focusing on safety but still have health legacy issues.
In order to attract people into our industry and retain them, we need to ensure that as employers we take a keen interest in looking after them. Collaborating on matters close to people’s hearts is a great way to ensure we keep our teams engaged.
And it’s not as if we’re out on our own on this: the Considerate Constructors Scheme has recently added mental health assessments to its checklist of good site practices. Apparently, some sites are thinking of providing mental health first-aiders.
It does start to blur the workplace with more personal issues. Do you think some people might prefer to keep them separate?
We have ensured that we are not forcing the people to do anything or discuss anything if they do not want. We still run a private health scheme and a support line that remain confidential.
How will you judge the success of the programme?
This year is a soft launch. Next year we will look to expand the strategy and align it with key performance indicators such as reducing absence.
There will be competitions and campaigns will happen throughout the year, with the first year of findings and results shared in the company’s corporate social responsibility report in 2016.
Michelle Page is HR director of Simons Group