Part of Royal Mail Group, Parcelforce Worldwide’s employees are designated essential workers and for them, the period of lockdown due to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, has been business as usual. The organisation practices social distancing on its sites and has one person per cab on collections and deliveries. During this difficult period, an increase in delivery services and inevitable employee absences has highlighted the need to support the mental wellbeing of employees.
Tim Williams, strategic HR business partner at Parcelforce Worldwide, explains how the pandemic has affected the courier business and its employees: “From day one, people have just carried on. I think it’s quite right to expect some people to be scared and frightened. We’re told to stay away from other people, and yet [our employees] have to carry out collections from our customers and then deliver to consumers. We’ve had to respect that and be understanding and supportive of any concerns that come our way.
“The message got through to managers at all levels that we need to take time to talk with [employees] to understand their concerns, to try and reassure them through all the initiatives that we’ve put in place.”
Through its mental health strategy, Healthy Minds Matter, the organisation constantly promotes campaigns and messages to raise awareness, and decrease the stigma of mental illness. In early 2020, it introduced around 50 volunteer health and wellbeing ambassadors at its major business units, most of whom are front-line employees. “That really gives us an opportunity to promote peer-to-peer support,” says Williams. “Those ambassadors have access to all of our intranet sites and various portals that information is available through, and they are able to act as a signpost to anybody who wants to talk to them.”
The organisation also runs an online health and wellbeing programme, Feeling First Class, which covers a range of topics including mental health, fitness and finance, and provides employees with tools and guides to help them improve their wellbeing. Employees also have access to an employee assistance programme (EAP) through the website.
Parcelforce also provides its 6,200 employees with a healthcare plan, provided by Benenden Health, which gives them access to a mental health helpline.
Through regular communication delivered via its wellbeing ambassadors, line managers, email bulletins and onsite televisions, the organisation ensures employees are aware of the support that is available to them.
Williams says: “We are a people organisation, we have a duty of care to people. Certainly from a mental health situation, the right thing to do is to support people and to understand where they’re coming from, and try and help wherever we can. That’s what we’re committed to doing.”