Housing organisation Aster Group has a multi-faceted approach to its employee wellbeing which includes offering resilience training to its 1,400 employees.
As well as working closely with Dorset Mind, a local-based mental health charity, the organisation took the unique approach of employing a mental wellbeing trainer on a permanent basis, offering its employees bespoke resilience training since 2018.
The mental wellbeing trainer is tasked with adapting courses as and when there is a need to focus on overall resilience as well as training up mental health first aiders and enhancing the organisation’s mental health support strategy. Since the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, the courses, which include resilience training and mindfulness courses, are now available virtually.
Rachel Credidio, director of people and transformation at Aster Group, explains: “It’s been a transformative approach. A lot of organisations bring people in and train them up in mental health but this gives us a longevity approach, which is always evolving. It really has enabled it to be embedded within the business. Daran [the mental wellbeing trainer] has been supporting cluster groups and partners with the organisations as well, to maximise the employee experience and wellbeing side of the business.”
Alongside resilience and mental health training, the organisation has been concentrating on restorative practice training.
“It’s a non-adversarial way of dealing with conflict in an organisation, having a culture where [we] can have robust strong conversations and hear employees,” explains Credidio. “It’s very much about everyone having a voice. Every single manager has been trained in the restorative practice [in 2019] and we’re just rolling out a course for every single employee.
“The more diverse and inclusive [an] organisation is, sometimes there’s more chance of conflict because [they] have more people with different opinions and that’s what [they] want, but actually what [they] want to do is deal with that in a healthy way and have good conversations.”
One of the biggest challenges the Aster Group has found as an organisation during the pandemic is supporting its staff, however, of the 400 staff who responded to a pulse survey in August 2020, 91% of employees felt supported by their employer.
“It’s totally about caring about our employees. [The wellbeing strategy is] an investment in our people into which we get a return, which means they will deliver better customer service to our people and that is exactly what we have seen,” Credidio says. “We have a motivated workforce and since the pandemic it’s been absolutely evident that our approach puts our people first and us in a good place.”