As businesses seek to tackle the costs of work-related stress, the corporate landscape is becoming ever-more mindful of the wellbeing of staff. A growing number of companies are also realising that happier staff are more likely to create a rewarding experience for customers of their brands.
Fitness fashion retailer Sweaty Betty perkily wears staff wellbeing on its chic workout sleeve. It provides its people with numerous fun opportunities to live an active lifestyle, offers free workouts, organises team fitness events and sponsoring people to learn new health and fitness skills.
“Our company purpose is to inspire women to find empowerment through fitness and beyond, a message we promote to both our customers and our team,” says Louise Hudson, UK senior marketing manager. “We also host seminars onsite on topics such as the importance of sleep, financial health, advice for parents, and mindfulness – we know wellbeing is not just about being physically fit, but mentally fit too.”
The brand is in good company. While the tech-savvy staff at Google take 40 winks in a nap pod, British Airways’ HQ at Heathrow offers staff allotment plots and Rolls Royce is aligning the production of high performance engines with an investment in staff’s emotional and physical resilience.
Investment in wellness programmes arguably delivers attractive outcomes that alongside increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and talent retention, include pride and commitment from staff in what they do.
The principle that if you take care of employees they will take care of customers rings particularly true for the hotel sector.
We value a networking environment rather than a hierarchical environment.
Alex Weller, Patagonia
Operating in the highly competitive hospitality market, InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) is well aware the first and last impression guests have is set by its people. Happy staff deliver good customer service is fundamental to business success, so having an overarching wellbeing strategy is crucial, according to Elaine Grell, vice-president of HR in Europe.
“On joining IHG, [colleagues] will be offered the opportunity to develop their careers, kept involved in the business and recognised for their contributions,” she says. “Through robust internal communications, we impart IHG’s ethos of ‘room to be yourself’ commitment promises.”
Grell cites the portfolio’s Kimpton hotel chain, which is renowned for its uniquely personal service, as an example of how staff are encouraged to do well for the brand by giving them some latitude and equipping them to make on-the-ground decisions in line with the company’s overall goal of creating a top-notch guest experience.
“It is this sense of freedom and empowerment that enables employees to provide a stellar guest experience across properties, but it also creates a great place to work for employees in roles from room attendant to general manager,” she says.
IHG believes that carefully constructing this culture – a place where people come to work excited and engaged in what they do, where they can grow and learn, and where they can be themselves – is how it maintains competitive advantage. The value of this approach is clear. In the US this year, for example, IHG made the top 10 of KPMG Nunwood’s US Customer Experience Excellence ranking, climbing 64 spots since 2016.