Mark Earl: Workplace communities bring benefits to health and wellbeing

mark earl

Good employers are always looking for ways to support the health and wellbeing of their employees, and it is more than window dressing; staff who feel supported tend to be healthier and more productive. Establishing employee networks is an effective part of any strategic approach to health and wellbeing.

At Shaw Trust, we have established a network called Employee Voice. Employee Voice brings together individuals from across the organisation to act as representatives. These representatives can take forward any questions or comments that our employees may want to raise, ensuring that everyone can be heard.

Employee Voice is also consulted about ongoing matters within the organisation, particularly on employee welfare issues such as pay, conditions and health and safety. Representatives are nominated by their peers and are reflective of all parts of our organisation.

We also have a Disabled Employee Network, which works to ensure that Shaw Trust is as inclusive and accessible as possible. Anyone with an interest in issues related to disability can attend this group, and we take it very seriously. It is important to ensure that everyone who works for the organisation is fully able to reach their potential, and that our staffing reflects the communities we serve.

The Disabled Employee Network includes a member of the board and has the full backing of senior management. It advises the organisation on how we can make our buildings, processes and procedures more accessible and inclusive; it will play an important part in shaping the organisation for years to come.

The Trust is exploring the idea of creating more network groups to support employees with shared characteristics such as gender, race, cultural heritage, sexual orientation, faith and age.

Shaw Trust has found that the benefits of these employee networks are enjoyed by everyone. Staff have a voice and can inform real change, while management gets the full benefit of their wide-ranging expertise.

Mark Earl is chief talent officer at Shaw Trust, a UK charity supporting disabled and disadvantaged people into employment and independent living