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Winning at Wellbeing – How REPL Topped the Table for Employee Health and Happiness
REPL has achieved a Great Place to Work Wellbeing Index score of 81%, surpassing the threshold for excellence by 6 percentage points and joining just 24 other companies in the UK to hold this prestigious award.
Our CEO, Cerys Johnson explains how the business has nurtured a culture of wellbeing and her plans for maintaining and evolving this high standard in the future.
65% of European companies agree that wellbeing is a strategic priority. Yet only 26% have a mechanism in place to measure stress. And while UK employers are losing £4.2bn due to employee anxiety and depression, prospective clients and candidates increasingly consider wellbeing a marker of a modern organisation. One they want to do business with.
The Great Place to Work Wellbeing Model takes a holistic view of working life, breaking the concept of wellbeing into six key dimensions. An organisation is assessed against these elements with employees answering an independent survey of 17 questions.
Fulfilment, work-life balance, financial security, work environment, mental and physical health and interpersonal relationships make up the survey’s focus. The threshold for excellence is a Wellbeing Index score of 75%. REPL’s 81% result secured it a place among just 24 other UK businesses.
“Wellbeing has always been something we’ve focused on,” says CEO Cerys Johnson. “We’ve created a culture that’s underpinned the business for years – there’s a sense that we’re all in this together, like a family.”
But it’s in situations like the Covid-19 pandemic when culture comes to the fore and you prove whether your actions follow your words. Cerys reflects on this period as she considers the drivers behind REPL’s success in the wellness stakes.
Personal and financial security
“Very early on in the pandemic, we looked at the physical wellbeing of the team. We ensured we weren’t putting anyone at risk, closing offices earlier than most and bringing our teams back from locations across the world,” says Cerys. “Nobody was left at risk or in an uncertain situation. We made sure everyone knew they were our number one priority.”
A series of clear statements, coordinated by REPL’s expert employee engagement team, ensured messages were tailored, delivered appropriately and well received. Those messages also helped articulate the organisation’s intentions during the crisis.
“We made it clear that our commitment was to maintain the team, despite knowing the business, along with the rest of the world, was heading into financial uncertainty.”
Cerys Johnson – CEO
The Great Place to Work Wellbeing Model considers financial security to be “a personal state of present and future financial safety and freedom, determined by spending, saving and borrowing habits.” Annual salary increases and bonus payments directly impact this.
REPL’s leadership team openly communicated they would need to decide whether these would be paid during the downturn. As soon as it was prudent to do so, pay increases were made and bonuses paid in full. It’s no wonder 88% agreed or strongly agreed they feel comfortable with the level of job security REPL offers.
Turning values into behaviours
The business scored 87% for actively promoting mental and physical health among its employees. And 90% feel they can take time off from work when they think it’s necessary
Cerys leads by example here, playing daily games of rounders and cricket with her kids during lockdown, and sharing pictures with the team. “Letting people know that, as senior leadership, we take time out to look after our physical wellbeing shows we don’t expect people to be tied to their desk 24/7, online all the time. It’s not just okay, it’s good to have time for yourself.”
Helping healthy minds
Covid-19 saw a melting pot of scenarios put pressure on everyone’s mental wellbeing
From parents with no child care and people in house shares with no workspace, to those in multi-generational households worried for the health of their loved ones, the emotional impact of the pandemic was diverse.
Surveys and workshops helped the business understand how people were feeling, and how they could help and support. Numerous initiatives arose in response to this information, driven and championed not by the leadership team but by everyone across the business.
A parents channel was set up on Teams to share ideas and school homework tips. ‘Loving Where I Live’ shared photos of the team’s local areas. There was a sunflower growing competition, virtual pub quizzes and bingo sessions. Wellbeing Wednesday arrived with content updated weekly. Virtual coffee mornings saw leaders invited as equals to share in conversations about anything and everything.
That 90% believe people care about each other at REPL and 82% feel that the business is a psychologically and emotionally healthy place to work are survey responses that reflect this.
An empowered team
How does a CEO empower employees across multiple regions to take such caring actions?
“We have a great culture of respect. Our flat hierarchy means individual team members feel valued. They know they have a view and opinion that will be respected.”
Cerys Johnson – CEO
Indeed, 91% of REPL’s employees believe they have enough say in how they do their jobs.
“No one’s sitting waiting to be told what to do next,” she continues. “People are given responsibility and work without needing to be told what to do. They’re empowered to come up with ideas and solutions, and we give them the space to be creative.”
“As a senior leadership team we may make minor adjustments to keep people focused on the priorities or to act as a voice to publicise an idea, but the suggestions are their own.”
An excellent future
And what of next year? How will REPL maintain and exceed its wellbeing excellence?
“Last year, based on the employee survey, we took action as a leadership team to determine which areas to build and develop. We defined the focus but a lot of what we delivered was through the team,” reflect Cerys.
“Next year, I would love to see people proactively identify where and how wellbeing will have the most impact on them and their colleagues. We’re not a one-size-fits-all organisation and we want to make the REPL experience suit every single person who works here. I think we can get closer to that if we can be far more personalised about what individual groups of people want. I think the answers will come from them.”
Cerys Johnson – CEO