Like many companies, energy company RWE found its workforce felt depleted and disconnected in the wake of COVID-19 with some colleagues being at risk of suffering burnout.
Robert Manson, Head of Centre of Expertise for Health and Wellbeing, RWE Generation, decided to use returning to ‘normal’ post pandemic as an opportunity to create a ‘new normal’ in terms of working culture.
“Not just a culture of flexible working – we’ve been doing that for ages – but a new mindset,” he says.
Creating a culture that prioritised energy not time
He was keen to create a culture that prioritised workers maximising their energy, rather than their time, to achieve peak performance.
‘We make energy for the world but I realised we weren’t managing our own energy that well!” he says. “We put together an energy management programme with the inhouse Health and Wellbeing team.”
The programme covers topics like the definition of energy/pressure/stress, good energy principles and what you can do as an individual to enhance your energy. Employees can either attend a 3 hour ‘Energy for life’ workshop, or leaders can attend a day-long ‘Energy for Leaders’ course or technicians on sites can access a condensed hour-long version.
Giving employees the opportunity to talk in a fast, busy world
The programme launched four months ago and, according to Manson, has garnered much positive feedback already. It is now available in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, with the UK actually proving to be the most progressive in terms of openness talking about mental health. Manson has found that the most valuable benefit is that it gives employees and managers the opportunity to talk about issues that they would not otherwise do in a fast, busy world.
Senior and line managers make up the bulk of employees that have so far completed the course because this group, according to Manson, is the most at risk from burnout.
“They also set the culture for the team, so they are a crucial part of the jigsaw in helping to improve the culture and reduce workplace pressures,” says Manson. “Like many companies, in the pandemic we let our healthy habits slide and the pressure became heightened and, with it, the risk of burnout.”
Employees encouraged to take the initiative & come up with wellbeing solutions
According to Manson, the reason it’s been so successful and got high engagement so far is down to its simplicity and the fact that small actions can make the biggest difference. For instance, the programme suggests that meetings be restricted to 50 minutes maximum to build in recovery time and avoid a draining schedule of back to back meetings.
Another reason the programme has gone down well with employees is due to the fact it encourages them to take initiative after the training and implement their own energy-enhancing work practices. All workshops end with the question ‘what healthy habits are you now going to build into your day?’ which participants have really taken ownership of.
For example, on the back of the programme, employees working in the power stations have created 6 ‘rules’ to follow during the stressful outage period in particular to ensure they’re proactively looking after their health and wellbeing.
These 6 rules are:
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1. I will take a break at least every other weekend if practicable, as time management is important to my Wellbeing.
2. At lunch I will not be desk bound, I will try to get away from the office or workplace whilst having my breaks.
3. I will not work long hours for many consecutive days, as I understand that continuous days of long hours leads to fatigue which can lead to mistake and potentially accidents.
4. I will find the time to engage and discuss with the working parties their ideas for Wellbeing, Safety and work area/task improvements. I will implement at least one of the suggestions and provide feedback.
5. I will make an effort to regularly ask my colleagues ‘how are you doing?’ and I will take the time to listen and be supportive.
6. I will make sure I drink enough water to stay hydrated and eat regular healthy snacks to keep my energy level high.
“We believe that by starting simple, for example trying to adhere to the 6 rules above as much as possible during the outage, not just as individuals but as a large team sharing same principles and expectations, will lead to significant improvements in effectively managing our Energy balance,” says Manson.
Robert Manson will be facilitating a roundtable for employers at the 5th annual MAD World Summit on 11th October focused on the question: “What does successful workplace wellbeing look like?” Register here for an opportunity to share thoughts and experiences with peers around:
- The metrics we should be using to evaluate wellbeing and approaches to gathering the right qualitative and quantitative insights for your organisation
- How this works in a global environment where colleagues in different countries have different expectations around KPIs
- What’s working well and what’s not working well with wellbeing
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