What will well-being look like in your workplace, as 2023 unfolds?
In the latest in our series looking at how different companies have sought to support their employees, we have been chatting to Ben Goode, CEO of LSI Architects.
“Proactive & helpful whenever advice is needed.” Read the full review
Name: Ben Goode, CEO
Business: LSI Architects
Core Business Function: Provision of architectural services, within the construction industry.
Where is the business located: Norwich and London
Total Staff: 70
How significant is your approach to employee well-being within your business, and how is this demonstrated?
Very significant. In fact, nothing is more important to us.
It is demonstrated through our values, our culture, our team structures, our 121 process, our training strategy and the way we work with our clients.
Has there been a tangible benefit of that approach?
We believe our approach has created a more open and more supportive culture where people can be themselves and can be honest about mental health issues without fear of judgement.
For many businesses, it was Covid which sparked a desire to do more about well-being. That wasn’t the case for you. What was the catalyst, and when?
For some of us at LSI, 2016 was a year that brought very personal challenges with mental health.
Reflecting on these events was a ‘call to action’ that we could do more to support our team.
We needed to do better, and our teams deserved better, so we teamed up with experts and developed our plan.
Clearly you felt collaboration and expertise were going to be key to implementing things in the right way. What steps did you take?
Our starting point was to link up with Mind through the Workplace Well-being Index, taking part in their inaugural Index in 2016/17.
This helped us identify what we needed to do and in the right order. It had a really helpful mix of insight from our team and expert advice about how we could address the challenges we faced.
We have taken part in the annual Index ever since and it continues to be a cornerstone of our well-being strategy.
Our training focussed on life skills that people could bring to work.
It helped them understand how the body and mind works, how to build resilience, how to deal with events as they happen and signposting to support.
Any additional support or efforts for those who have responsibility for others?
Yes, we’ve made sure they have additional training and support to help them recognise when someone is suffering from poor mental health, identify and deal with trauma and to give them the confidence to approach this.
In addition, we have a team of mental health champions, led by our HR Manager, who are available as a listening ear, to share lived experience and signpost people to further support.
What challenges did you find, and were you able to overcome them with ease, or with some degree of debate and discussion?
On the whole, our team has welcomed our well-being strategy with open arms and crucially most of our team subsequently changed something about their lifestyle, like their work routines, diet or exercise habits.
Mental health education was conspicuous by its absence in most people’s lives.
The networks to support and promote good mental health were few and far between and those that did exist were woefully resourced and not properly funded.
Crucially, the stigma and shame, borne out of a lack of understanding, was palpable.
What we don’t want to do is tell our team what they should be doing but instead we want to develop their knowledge about how the things that you do, or don’t do, impact on your mental health.
This is so that they can make their own informed choices about how they live their life, so that they give themselves the best chance to stay well and build resilience.
You chose to use the framework of ‘7 Ways to Well-being’. Why was that?
That was the initial approach and was intended to help give people ideas to stay well at work but it doesn’t replace the more formal structures we have for support; via HR, their line manager and external support through employee assistance programmes and Bupa.
The 7 Ways workshops were probably our most successful CPDs ever. Judging by the feedback they were certainly our best received.
Many people made significant changes to the way they lived their lives which have been ongoing.
Were there specific nuances in relation to the pandemic period?
A key part of our strategy both during and after the pandemic has been encouraging and maintaining connection which is so vital to people’s well-being. We provide numerous opportunities for this at an individual and group level in terms of work, training and social events.
How important do you think your approach to well-being has become in terms of recruitment and retention for your business?
A consistent theme during our recruitment process is that people recognise our work on mental health and well-being and want to work for a company where this is part of the everyday culture.
It also plays a factor in retention. Our retention rates are higher than average in the industry. Our 1 to 1 structure gives people small regular investments of time to focus on performance, well-being and development.
In terms of working at LSI, our feedback shows:
95% of people who experience poor mental health whilst at LSI felt confident they would be supported.
Almost 100% of people said that LSI has built their understanding of how to look after their mental health.
100% feel the organisation encourages openness and discussion about mental health.
How frequently do you reassess your approach to well-being, and are there particular amends or changes you intend to bring in in the coming months?
Our work on well-being is ongoing; it is just part of who we are.
Participation in the annual Mind Workplace Well-being Index provides us with an opportunity to get regular feedback from our team to assess our approach.
Has your approach changed – or will it – given the current situation concerning the cost of living?
We are obviously considering the impact of the current financial times for our teams.
Again though we are looking to build resilience rather than reliance by signposting to additional support where needed.
What would your recommendations be for any leader or business owner looking at developing a new or improved strategy toward well-being?
Do it now – there is no better time and there is a compelling business case in terms of improved culture, productivity, absence levels and retention.
Participate in the Mind Workplace Well-being Index.
Look to provide opportunities for people to connect socially – our team tells us that this is important.
Incorporate well-being into development reviews.
Colleagues may not be immediately receptive to activities or sharing personal experiences until they’re confident disclosure will be met with compassion and support – our recommendation would be to start with providing people with more information to understand mental health and well-being.
Sum up your business’s attitude toward employee well-being in no more than five words:
The right thing to do.