Housing association VIVID’s approach to improving the health and wellbeing of its employees, has been recognised at the CIPD People Management Awards.
Its staff are celebrating winning the best health and wellbeing accolade with judges stating they were particularly impressed with its investment in training and innovative use of different channels to reach different people. The CIPD is the professional body for HR and people development in the UK.
Duncan Short, Director of Resources at VIVID said: “We’re delighted to win this award as recognition of the journey we’re on and the role all our people have played in supporting each other and themselves in the workplace. As a housing association and not-for-profit business, we can truly say that people, not profit are our driver and reason for being. The wellbeing and bright futures of our customers – physical, mental and social – is at the heart of the business, however we recognise that to put wellbeing at the heart of what we do for our customers we need to ensure that it’s central to how we support ourselves.”
VIVID was formed in 2017 as a result of a merger. When it merged, the housing association had many of the same issues and opportunities that occur when organisations come together - duplication of services, inconsistent processes and some cultural misalignments. Through its People Strategy called VIVID 2020, it focused on shaping its approach to its people including resolving specific challenges, and improving employee wellbeing has been a central part of it.
Duncan said: “We saw that the percentage of people having sick days was increasing and within that the percentage of people going off with some form of stress or mental health issues was significant – at the worst 42.5% of our sickness was due to mental health. We set ourselves a target of reducing overall sickness to an annualised rate of 2.7% and reducing the proportion of mental health within that. However, we wanted to do this in a way that supported our culture – giving people the tools and support to help themselves.”
Its first step was signing up to the Time to Change pledge to show its commitment. The organisation of 870 staff created a team from all levels, called Stigma Busters, to introduce a range of initiatives to support good mental health. A core aspect of the Time to Change pledge is removing the stigma of mental health and they felt that part of the issue was that people hid problems which ultimately exacerbated them. Stigma Busters hold regular events to raise awareness and publishing blogs in which they shared their personal mental health issues.
Duncan said: “It was the blogs that really made the most impact. We were fortunate in having our Head of Repairs write a blog about his struggles with mental health. As an ex-roofer, with a down to earth voice, his blog really broke the barriers, especially with our previously reticent tradesmen. This was a breakthrough which encouraged others to start sharing problems they had been through and also showed to the organisation that we were serious about tackling the issue. We now regularly have people wanting to share their stories, which gain some much engagement and interest across the business.”
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic VIVID’s overall annualised sickness and mental health sickness had fallen for 9 months consistently. At its peak, the days lost to mental health were 335 days per year whereas it is now 137. Its approach of helping its employees help themselves has also paid huge dividends during the lockdown.
The wellbeing and bright futures of our customers – physical, mental and social – is at the heart of the business, however we recognise that to put wellbeing at the heart of what we do for our customers we need to ensure that it’s central to how we support ourselves