Seetec – Promoting Employee Wellbeing
The Seetec Group supports thousands of individuals every year to fulfil their career and skills potential. As one of the UK and Ireland’s leading employee owned business services providers, we put our colleagues, customers and communities at the heart of what we do. Our specialist business divisions; skills, employment, justice, health and social care support and empower people to achieve and thrive.
Seetec has a hybrid model of employee ownership with 51% in an employee owned trust and 18% in an employee benefit trust. Seetec employs 2,000 colleagues in the UK and Ireland and has an annual financial turnover of £140m.
One of Seetec’s strategic aims is the creation of a progressive, collaborative, and healthy working environment and as such we have a comprehensive health and well-being policy, but the pandemic brought unique challenges for our people. They suddenly found themselves working remotely, often home-schooling children or dealing with vulnerable family members, all whilst supporting vulnerable clients who were experiencing similar challenges themselves. Being isolated from colleagues who provided daily support to each other was also difficult, as we are a people to people business.
The Employee Council and SLT worked closely to identify how best to support our people and whilst the SLT mobilised quickly to manage the operational challenges it was access to our EO champion network that really brought additional benefits. Champions were invited to join a dedicated H&W working group which listened to colleagues and identified needs. The working group of 18 EO Champions lead a comprehensive response in addition to the existing H&W strategy. Meeting fortnightly they were empowered through Seetec’s EO structure enabling them to find creative solutions quickly. Their achievements can be summarised under three main themes: practical, emotional, and physical.
- Seetec Employee Covid Grant (financial grants for colleagues and their families in crisis launched in April 2020 and is ongoing)
- Laptops for families (laptops loaned to families to support home schooling and keeping families connected)
- Home school support group (pooling knowledge and subject matter expertise across the organisation to help families with remote learning as well as supporting each other)
- Combatting isolation with digital team events (quizzes, coffee breaks, after work events bringing people together informally)
- Seetec Community Investment Fund (£5,000 donated to local community groups nominated and determined by colleagues in November 2020)
- Our monthly “Connect & Chat” conversations (informal conversations for employee champions with the CEO and Group CEO) ensured that concerns from colleagues were shared at the highest level and provided an opportunity to ensure the correct support was in place.
- The Listening Ear – monthly non-work-related check-ins with our trained mental health first aiders. (Champions identified this practice in one part of the business and took steps to offer it to all employees.)
- In Safe Hands (a safe online space with discreet access to get information in a hurry primarily around domestic abuse, mental health, financial concerns and drug / alcohol support. Identified, led and created by employee champions).
- Weekly mindfulness sessions (designed and led by two employee champions in our Irish business pillar for all colleagues)
- Nature photography challenge colleagues sharing photos of their local areas on daily walks.
- Online book club and film club were established to bring colleagues with similar interests together.
- Weekly online yoga and Zumba classes (sourced and managed by employee champions and available to colleagues and their families)
- Step into Spring physical challenge – walk or move for 30 minutes five days a week for February and raised funds for four employee nominated charities (charities had a focus on mental health and domestic abuse)
- Online Seetec Strava community “Seetec Movers” launched in December 2020 to connect colleagues across the UK and Ireland and encourage physical activity during the winter lockdown.
Our network of EO champions were a vital element in how we planned and executed our response to the pandemic. They are connected to colleagues, accessible and they understood what was needed, creating responsive, fit for purpose and agile solutions.
Just as our business model empowers people to make changes in their lives, our EO model empowers our people to make improvements for the benefit of the business, colleagues and our service users. It was clear that we could only support our clients and communities when our people were well supported.
The health and wellbeing score in our 2020 employee engagement survey rose by 12% to 77%. Our employee turnover has also reduced 40% in the 12 months to April 2021.
Feedback from colleagues has been overwhelmingly positive:
“Our EO structure has been a fantastic vehicle to support people through this difficult time.”
“The H&W working group has been a fantastic platform to share my ideas and feel like they are being heard. I am already pleased to see the very practical actions we have taken.”
“I’ve seen more consultation with our people around working practices and support measures put in place during the difficult pandemic period. The feedback from colleagues has reached senior leaders and I have seen actions being taken as a result.”
Most importantly we have been able to maintain a high standard of service to our clients, communities and commissioners who have benefited from uninterrupted services, continuity of advisors and high quality delivery.