EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal Football Club empowers staff to talk about wellbeing

Employee Benefits Live 2021: The world completely changed as a result of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, bringing hybrid and remote working conversations to the forefront, stated Hazel Robinson, reward and benefit partner at Arsenal Football Club.

During the panel discussion titled ‘Learnings from supporting employees in 2020 and beyond’ on the first day of Employee Benefits Live 2021 at London’s ExCel, Robinson explained that the pandemic introduced opportunities for employers to recognise what wellbeing infrastructure they have in place and how they could improve upon them.

“It has helped managers to understand how to have conversations with staff, and that the journey to help everyone is ongoing. After being told by the government to work from home where you can, it also brought to the forefront the issue that homeworking isn’t always a safe space for everyone, raising this issue with staff and having conversations with them that haven’t really been had before,” Robinson said.

Dawn Moore, group people director at Murphy Group, stated that the pandemic has highlighted the importance of the employee experience and has shone a light on their entire whole life experience as a result of their work.

“We’ve put in place support packages for financial and mental wellbeing, equipped managers to deal with this and encourage staff to think about what a valuable benefit is to them. Some staff at Murphy Group said that they have been having conversations about flexible working for years, and tend to discuss what they have to do and plan how they do it before the end of their working week,” she said.

On the subject of HR policies, Robinson is of the opinion that they are only half of the jigsaw and that managers need to be empowered to have different conversations about different circumstances.

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“We need to recognise that everyone is different and policies need to be flexible to suit all. Behaviour is just as important as productivity, as companies need the people element, as well as empathy and creative gel to be successful,” she said.

She added that people-centric policies are not special and are expected, believing “they should be done naturally” combined with finding the strengths to overcome challenges and take all learnings with them into the future.