Selley column: People most important business assets

The most important business assets are people and, as the FWD Chairman explains, there are several simple, but important, measures that could make all the difference to keep them happy

We talk a lot about change at the moment as the wholesale sector anticipates evolution in economy, environment and technology. The success with which we adapt to these will be aided by a fourth development area: the culture of our organisations.

Workplace health and wellbeing is moving up the corporate agenda with businesses now recognising there are tangible benefits in looking after their most important asset: their colleagues. Investment in health and wellbeing services helps lower absence rates, increase productivity and improve employee engagement, and is an essential part of the package that the younger values-driven workforce looks for in deciding where to spend their working hours.

Promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace is about more than just healthy living initiatives or new employee benefits. It’s about developing strategies to improve our people’s wellbeing and giving them clear frameworks and practical support to do this.

PEOPLE PRIORITIES

Last year, more than 1,400 Bidfood employees took part in a survey to understand their goals, priorities and concerns. The top three topics employees wanted to be informed about were mental wellbeing (resilience, stress management), social health (family life, dealing with home commitments, caring for others) and financial health (money, budgeting, debt consolidation). Improving diet and exercise were their key health and wellbeing goals for the year ahead.

As a result, we’ve introduced a 12-month calendar of advice and information to promote key health, wellbeing and benefit themes. The calendar and online wellbeing portal are available to all employees, and monthly email toolkits cover important and diverse issues that are close to many of us, such as ways to simplify your life, coping with change, understanding the difference between pressure and stress, coping in a crisis, improving mental wellbeing, alcohol awareness and dealing with cancer. Bidfood has also adopted Hospitality Action’s Employee Assistance Programme. With this confidential support line, employees receive help with any mental, social and financial health concerns they may have. For many years, FWD has been a supporter and contributor to GroceryAid, which provides similar advice, support and financial assistance for wholesale people in need.

FWD is also taking forward its project to encourage members to look at flexible working as a way to increase productivity and relieve stress on employees juggling their work and home lives.

On a related topic, FWD’s members are also putting together a Dignity at Work charter for our industry. We believe that everyone has the right to a safe and respectful working environment regardless of their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. There’s no place for any form of harassment, discrimination, aggression or misconduct and such behaviour runs contrary to the ideals of the industry.

In particular, we’re looking at standards of behaviour between colleagues in their day-to-day commercial dealings, both within their own organisations and at industry events and other external interactions as part of their employment. We believe everyone in the industry should expect to feel comfortable, confident and convinced that they will be able to work and flourish in this sector.

Andrew Selley Bidfood dignity at work Employee Assistance Programme FWD health and wellbeing Staffing