UK home improvement retailer Wickes has more than 7,000 employees working at 233 stores across the country.
The business rolled out the Peppy Menopause and Fertility services for its staff at the end of February as it had been looking to improve upon its family-friendly policy. Support for miscarriage and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) from a pay and time off perspective was already available, but senior leadership wanted to consider what more could be offered.
Claira Singh, diversity and inclusion manager, explains that based on the feedback coming from the Wickes Balance for Better and Wellbeing groups, the organisation knew the menopause and fertility support would be of interest. “As we were launching the service, Wickes held a webinar for all colleagues about the impacts and challenges around these issues, which a mixed group of nearly 60 people attended. Many of them [were] men who wanted to understand how they [could] support their partners, mums, sisters and friends,” she says.
The main support that the business offers is granting all employees access to expert practitioners for them to reach out to when they or their family member may need. This allowed them to discuss the challenges with their line managers, helping to make changes to the way they work and the support they receive.
“Through our internal wellbeing working group we know of colleagues who have been affected by these issues and have felt real improvement in their ways of working, schedule management, confidence levels and overall lifestyle as a result of the service,” Singh says. “At Wickes we genuinely see ourselves as a family and it is nice to know that any benefits we put in place are available to our colleagues’ families too.”
Wickes has found the service to have been successful so far in terms of take up, believing it to be invaluable to offer support to workers during big life moments.
Singh adds that she feels the key thing is to talk to staff and understand what their needs are. “For those who haven’t put the support in place yet I would encourage [them] to start the conversation about menopause. Make it less of a taboo subject by talking about it, raising awareness and educating people around it and the impacts that some experience for it and if possible share some lived experiences,” she says.