As WFH continues throughout December, with kitchen tables and sofas making do as workstations up and down the country, the HR team at leading recruitment agency Encore Personnel are ensuring each and every member of its 200 staff feels supported and valued through a raft of caring initiatives.
When the first lockdown was announced in March, Encore – which is headquartered in Leicester with 10 branches across the UK – introduced welfare calls to all its staff, whether they were working from home or keyworkers in factories and branches. Mental health first aiders called every employee for a chat, asking how they were feeling, what their concerns were, and offering advice on how to protect their mental health. There have been three more rounds of these calls since March, totalling more than 300 hours of mental health first aid calls this year across the business.
HR Director at Encore, Cindy Gunn, who has worked for the award-winning business for 18 years, said it was paramount that their employees were properly supported during these extremely stressful and uncertain times.
She said: “Staff wellbeing isn’t just about bonuses and pay rises, far from it. We’re all working under immense pressure and anxiety during the pandemic and at Encore we firmly believe that our employees’ happiness and mental wellbeing is at the top of the list of priorities. A happy team means so much to us.
“That’s why when the first lockdown was announced, we’d already forseen a working from home scenario and had started contacting all staff through our mental health first aid system. We’ve had some really great feedback about how welcome and well timed this was.
“Then we introduced lots of initiatives to try and ensure all our team members still felt connected to each other despite being sat working away in their lounges or kitchens. We started doing our Friday team drinks virtually, invited staff to quiz nights online and shared weekly updates across the business about how we were doing and various team successes.”
Cindy added that the Directors were keenly aware that staff on furlough needed to be kept updated too and so they were in regular contact with these employees so that they knew exactly what was happening and felt reassured.
She added: “Our furloughed staff had regular contact with their line managers so that they felt included and aware of the news and challenges, which meant a lot to them when they weren’t working. Equally, we were aware of how much strain was put on our team members who weren’t furloughed – particularly when certain areas of the business such as our e-commerce and home delivery teams – experienced huge spikes in demand. We upped our HR support for them through additional online support meetings, gifted them Amazon vouchers as a treat and a thank you and offered them additional holiday allowance.”
Encore, which is one of the UK’s leading recruitment agencies providing temporary, permanent and interim jobs to the industrial, contact services, driving, energy, engineering, managed services and professional services sectors, has always put an emphasis on the importance of staff wellbeing through its initiatives such as Encore in Mind.
This programme has come into its own this year, being used as a channel to provide staff with tips on selfcare, encouraging them to take regular work breaks throughout the day and offering virtual hints and tips about how to look after their mental health at home.
Managing Director at Encore Pete Taylor added: “This year has been immensely taxing on us all, no matter whether we’ve worked continuously or been on furlough. We’ve all had our own personal challenges as well as our collective ones, which is why we’ve invested so much time and resource in our employees’ mental health. Several of the Directors, including me, shared our own mental health blogs during World Mental Health awareness week, we’ve used our social media channels to encourage open and honest discussion about mental health and most recently we’ve offered emotional resilience training to staff online.
“It is certainly very difficult to create a sense of community remotely, but we are doing all we can to keep our #bleedorange culture alive and well during these tough circumstances and we would like to say a huge, heartfelt thankyou to each and every Encore employee for the outstanding effort you’ve put in this year. Bring on 2021 we say!”
Encore is based across the Midlands and the north of England, with branches in Leicester, Coventry, Birmingham, Peterborough, Derby, Leeds, Northampton, Nottingham, Spalding and Telford.