"It’s essential that we continually look at ways in which we can enhance our employees’ experience of working for us through benefits, wellbeing and CSR initiatives."
Mark Stringer | HR Business Development Manager | The British Library
After a staff survey revealed employees across the The British Library wanted more support to enhance their wellbeing at work, Mark Stringer, HR business development manager, was keen to create a new Health & Wellbeing strategy.
As he explains: “As a public sector organisation, we can’t afford to pay as much as we’d like to, so it’s essential that we continually look at ways in which we can enhance our employees’ experience of working for us through benefits, wellbeing and CSR initiatives.”
When the annual staff survey flagged up the extent to which employees wanted help to improve their health, there was a clear opportunity to align an employee engagement objective with a business need.
Mark says: “At the time of the survey, staff turnover and absence rates were a concern. Creating a strategy that would address both these issues, as well as better engaging employees, was essential to securing the budget required.”
We wanted to get away from the idea that health provision should only be set aside for people who were unwell.
Central to Mark’s Health & Safety strategy was a drive to make staff aware of wellbeing initiatives already at their disposal and find ways to proactively prevent ill health and absence issues from arising.
“We wanted to get away from the idea that health provision should only be set aside for people who were unwell".
He says: “Instead, we wanted to do as much as we could to help employees increase their vitality levels and wellbeing on a daily basis”
To support the new way of thinking, Mark invited The Validium Group, the employee assistance and wellbeing provider, to run a series of health workshops, ranging from Healthy Eating to Smoking Cessation, for any of its 2,000 employees to attend.
Mark comments: “Validium had the right blend of skills required to encourage employees to look after themselves better and support them in making positive lifestyle changes.”
“Because of our incredibly diverse workforce, ranging from scientists to people who pull things off shelves to librarians capable of translating Arabic literature from 3,000 B.C, it was important to focus on wellbeing issues common to everyone” says Mark.
He continues: “The Healthy Eating workshop provided by Validium was ideal. It went far beyond looking at weight to get to the heart of what it meant to be healthy. Expert nutritionists were also on hand to give lots of inspiring and practical advice on simple things we can all do to increase our energy levels and fend off illness by eating well at work instead of snacking.”
Following the smoking cessation workshop and the introduction of the smoking ban, a significant number of employees quit smoking. “In general, the health and wellbeing advice and support provided by Validium was so popular that we commissioned them to deliver a second round of workshops, including Eating for Energy” says Mark. “The event was very well attended throughout the organisation and received lots of positive feedback.”
He adds, “Validium has played an important role in enabling us to change the way employees look after their health, helping us to reduce the annual sickness rate by 3.5 days per employee, from 11 days a year to 7.5 days.”
“After also introducing a wide range of other initiatives, including on-site eye-tests, physiotherapists and annual bone scans and liver tests, the majority of the workforce is now delighted by the extent to which The British Library helps them with their health and wellbeing. As well as reducing absence it’s had a positive impact on our ability to retain staff. All in all, we’ve had nothing but positive feedback from employees,” says Mark.
“We’ve been delighted with the services and expertise provided by Validium over the years, from the latest wellbeing initiatives to the critical incident support provided to our St Pancras staff affected by the proximity of the London bombings. Validium is made up of very talented and committed people, who are a pleasure to work with,” concludes Mark.