Elior UK is a contract catering firm, supplying food and support services to a range of businesses as well as the NHS, care homes, education and stadia. It currently employs around 7,000 people across the UK, with some of these employees furloughed while others have been able to continue working throughout the pandemic.
Employee mental health and wellbeing has always been a key focus for Justin Johnson, HR director at Elior UK. “We’ve got a strong relationship with the mental health charity Heads Together and we regularly run initiatives such as Time to Talk and publish colleagues’ blogs on their experiences with mental health,” he explains. “During the pandemic we also increased our network of mental health first aiders to enable them to provide support to their colleagues. We also benefit from having support from the very top of the organisation for our work in this area: we want employees to know that we care about their mental wellbeing and that they can reach out for help if they have a problem.”
Throughout the pandemic, communication with employees has been critical. “It’s affected everyone differently so we’ve made sure that we stay in touch with our employees as much as possible,” he says. “These communications have included promoting the resources we have around physical, mental and financial wellbeing. All of these areas of our health and wellbeing are interlinked so it’s important to provide this holistic support.”
Johnson is also acutely aware that, for some employees, the return to work later this year could be challenging. To gauge how everyone is feeling, he’s been running regular pulse surveys throughout the pandemic. “This gives us really good insight into how employees are feeling and will help us to provide the right level of support as we transition out of lockdown,” he says. “Every one of our colleagues has been affected by the pandemic, whether they were furloughed or working on the frontline, and every one of their stories is relevant.”