Nurturing Employee Wellbeing

Nigel Wright Group’s latest HR leaders webinar focused on fostering employee wellbeing in the food manufacturing industry. The session was led by Natalie Worrell, HR Manager at Bernard Matthews, who shared insights into how the business is crafting strategies to support employees at its Sunderland factory. Throughout the presentation, attendees at the virtual event were encouraged to participate in a collaborative exploration of best practices and emerging trends related to employee wellbeing support.

Introduction

Natalie began her presentation by quoting former United States first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt: “To handle yourself, use your head, to handle others, use your heart.” According to Natalie, Roosevelt’s statement emphasises the importance of empathy, compassion, and understanding when dealing with other people. This, she says, underscores the transformative potential of HR in championing employee wellbeing, signalling a shift from it being an administrative consideration, to a strategic imperative.

Understanding Holistic Needs

Emphasising HR’s role in providing comprehensive wellbeing support, Natalie highlighted the importance of addressing personal wellbeing alongside work-related issues. This, she says, means understanding what matters to employees and maintaining awareness of their needs, both within and outside the workplace. Through interactive discussions, participants shared their perspectives on what employee wellbeing should entail for HR, accentuating the need for tailored support and proactive initiatives.

Empowering Frontline Managers

Natalie elaborated on strategies for engaging frontline managers and fostering a unified approach to employee wellbeing. By empowering managers to champion initiatives and develop policies that prioritise employee welfare, she emphasised how HR can drive initiatives and develop policies and procedures to facilitate organisational change. Participants shared examples illustrating the transformative impact of collaborative leadership in creating supportive workplace cultures.

Navigating Legislative Changes

Legislative changes related to employee wellbeing were discussed, with a focus on flexible working arrangements, harassment prevention, and menopause support. Natalie stressed the importance of adapting existing policies to help employees, drawing on initiatives from her HR career as examples of proactive measures taken to address these issues. Through open dialogue, participants exchanged insights on navigating regulatory changes and fostering compliance while prioritising employee welfare.

Inclusive Policies

A poignant moment in the presentation occurred when Natalie and a participant discussed the importance of inclusive policies regarding pregnancy-related matters. They underlined the need for companies to ensure policies align with legal rights, particularly concerning IVF procedures and pregnancy-related absences. Policy revisions may be required for employees facing such challenges, with participants highlighting ongoing efforts within organisations to rewrite policies with inclusivity in mind.

Fostering a Supportive Culture

During the presentation, Natalie shared a range of initiatives and policies implemented at Bernard Matthews aimed at supporting employee wellbeing and fostering a supportive culture. They included:

Integrating Wellbeing into Corporate Strategy

Towards the end of the session, Natalie highlighted the integration of employee wellbeing into Bernard Matthews’ Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy, signalling a recognition of its importance within the broader framework of corporate responsibility and sustainability. By incorporating wellbeing into performance management and conducting separate wellbeing meetings, Bernard Matthews ensures that employees receive support for both their performance and overall wellbeing.

Conclusion

Natalie’s presentation offered a comprehensive roadmap for nurturing employee wellbeing. By prioritising collaboration, understanding holistic needs, and implementing proactive initiatives, HR professionals can play a transformative role in creating supportive and inclusive working environments. As businesses navigate the complexities of the modern workforce, investing in employee wellbeing emerges as a cornerstone of success, driving both individual fulfilment and organisational excellence.