Guest blog: Saffron Building Society putting colleague mental wellbeing first

Claire Jose, Head of People at Saffron BS, provides an insight into the supportive culture at the Society that encourages colleagues to talk and listen to each other without judgement.

Our colleagues are the beating heart of Saffron and it takes each and every one of us to provide a service we can be proud of.

Colleague happiness is the driver behind our wellbeing agenda and plays a leading role in our people strategy. It is well reported that happy colleagues have a positive impact on employee engagement, performance and customer satisfaction levels. In acknowledging the influence of happiness, we also acknowledge the impact of poor mental health. Opening up the conversation about mental health in the workplace shouldn’t be a tick box exercise. It takes a critical head and a kind heart to create positive noise for change.  

Consulting with colleagues about their lived experiences shapes the work we do. Our real time engagement survey enables us to monitor specific drivers that measure satisfaction and engagement levels, in turn directing our efforts to support with stress and to assist colleagues’ to stay mentally, physically and socially healthy. With these insights we are able to deliver tailor made initiatives that make a real difference to our people.

In 2021, we increased our number of in-house Mental Health First Aiders to be able to support more people. We hosted male and female only listening circles that helped enable colleagues to talk about issues in a safe environment. New starter induction was extended to include a mental health segment delivered by a third party to set the tone during on-boarding and work towards removing the stigma attached to discussing mental health in the workplace.

We warmly welcomed a number of external speakers into our Lunch and Learns linked to what our colleagues wanted to talk about; including ‘The After Effects of Covid’, ‘How to Improve Sleep’ and ‘Bereavement and Grief’ delivered by Lucy Herd, an inspirational campaigner for bereavement leave. This led to the introduction of our bereavement leave policy, supporting line manager guidance and the training of 2 in-house bereavement first aiders. Our policy extended to those who had been affected by the trauma of baby loss (including pregnancy). It was hard not to be moved to tears by the feedback from our colleagues who felt truly heard and supported by their employer.

Sharing stories has made all the difference in opening up conversations and driving policy change.

An impactful wellbeing agenda requires courage, particularly when introducing topics that are not normally discussed in the workplace. In our quest to remove the taboo around Menopause and to coincide with the launch of our Menopause policy, we introduced external guest speaker, Hayley Cockman (Hayley featured in the Davina McCall documentary ‘Sex, Myths and the Menopause’) to our colleagues via an all staff call on World Menopause Day.  

Having a broad range of wellbeing tools and resources supports a healthier workforce from the inside out.

We understand the importance of fostering a supportive culture that encourage our colleagues to talk and listen to each other without judgement. Because that’s what families do.  

Whilst we are proud of the progress we have made, we recognise that supporting wellbeing is a journey and not a destination. This year, our wellbeing commitments will work in harmony with our Inclusion and Diversity agenda to raise awareness of the cultural inequalities within mental health. We will continue to cheerlead for change, lead with our heart and put colleague wellbeing first.

Find out more at Saffron BS's website here