Jamie Broadley is Group Head of Health and Wellbeing at public services company Serco. He is also a speaker at the groundbreaking The Watercooler Event.
The Watercooler is taking place at Olympia, London on 25 & 26 May 2022. The conference and exhibition is all about helping employers to find the right joined-up mental, physical, financial, social and environmental wellbeing solutions that deliver the best possible outcomes both for employees and for the organisation.
In this interview, Jamie gives a sneak peek of the perspective he’ll be sharing at The Watercooler on Wednesday 25 May.
First, please tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Serco
I’ve been working in workplace wellbeing for around 10 years now so have been able to observe many of the iterations of this remit first hand, from fruit bowls and ping pong tables through to something that is, hopefully, getting more meaningful now.
My academic background is in Psychology and I’ve worked as an assistant psych in a number of NHS settings. I combined this with a professional sporting career in rugby, which I am still involved with now semi-professionally. These two worlds have given me experiences which really inform my passion for the intersect between wellbeing and performance and that’s what I try to bring to any workplace wellbeing role.
I’ve been Head of Wellbeing at Serco for nearly a year now, having joined from the NHS where I held Wellbeing lead roles across a few trusts in Derbyshire for the previous 5 years. I sit within Serco Group and have oversight of our approaches to colleague health and wellbeing across our four global divisions.
How long has Serco had a support programme for staff wellbeing in place and how has this evolved since its inception?
Serco’s greatest asset is our people so we have always aimed to prioritise their health and wellbeing through internal initiatives. Given the nature of the work we do [Serco primarily derives income as a contractor for the provision of government services, most prominently in the sectors of law & order, health, transport, justice, immigration, defence and citizens services], this has largely been through the health and safety lens.
Just prior to the pandemic a specific wellbeing role was created and, due to the nature of work over the past couple of years, this had to largely focus on that pandemic response – keeping our people safe whilst maintaining the vital services we provide to our communities and customers.
As we emerge from the pandemic our focus is on understanding the impact of everything we’ve been through on our people and ensuring our approach and services are equipped to best support us all as we establish our new normal.
The pandemic has forced wellbeing to the top of organisations’ agendas. Our goal is to make sure it remains a priority and becomes embedded as business as usual. How can people driving this agenda within their workplaces achieve this?
I completely agree and hope this is the goal of everyone working in this space. We have attention on the wellbeing agenda currently but this will drift to other matters if we aren’t able to seize it in a meaningful way. Some key things that I’m thinking about in this regard are:
- Finding the hooks for leaders and decision makers: Understanding what keeps senior decision makers up at night can help with targeting wellbeing response to speak to that pain point. It could be absence, safety incidents, ESG reporting or a myriad of other matters. Wellbeing will likely play into them all so we can accentuate those points when pitching ideas internally.
- Embedding at every touchpoint: Wellbeing shouldn’t be seen as a separate remit but rather one that is threaded through the way the organisation operates. We therefore need to ensure our work is aligned with L&D, HR, EDI, talent etc. The element we can easily miss though is what this looks like from the employee’s perspective. What is their journey through the organisation and where are the moments that matter for them? How can we work with the teams that design and manage each interface to make those as person centred as possible?
- Going for feel as well as think: When making the case for wellbeing it’s easy to lean on reports full of extrapolated ROI data, case studies and literature. This is all great but we’re only engaging the cognitive capacity of our decision makers. We need to remember that they’re human too and have all of their own wellbeing needs. By tapping into the emotional capacity we can create a much deeper level of understanding and subsequent buy in for our approaches. Create space to lift the lid on how the leaders are feeling and making it about them first.
- Understanding the real needs: It can be all too easy to sit in corporate offices, reviewing surveys, literature and HR data and then developing approaches off the back of these without ever actually connecting with the reality of the frontline of the organisation. This is especially true when our ability to be out and about in the business has been so limited in recent times. I think that a weakness of corporate wellbeing approaches in recent years has been that they can come across as paternalistic, being pushed down from the top and often as a sticking plaster rather than a genuine solution. Trying to turn this dynamic around and develop wellbeing value propositions that our colleagues want to lean into is a really interesting challenge and will only be successful if we can spend time out there with colleagues understanding the real day to day impacts on their wellbeing.
What is your personal vision for the next generation of workplace wellbeing?
I think the pandemic has really shone a light on the interplay between work and home and the impact they both have on our wellbeing, creating a really rich debate about what we all want from work in the context of our wider lives. I see workplace wellbeing really leaning into this debate and exploring how we can offer solutions that benefit our colleagues not just in work, but in the context of their wider lives.
Is there anything you’d like to share about your presentation “Tailored Social Value and Financial Wellbeing Initiatives – Taking a Public Health Approach to Employee Wellbeing” at The Watercooler on 25th May?
I’m really excited to be in a room full of like-minded people to explore this topic together. I will be sharing experiences from my various wellbeing roles that have really opened my eyes to the importance of public health in a workplace wellbeing approach and discussing examples of how we’ve tried to address this. I am by no means an expert so am keen to have an interactive session where we can share ideas and develop our thinking together.
Thank you Jamie, that sounds brilliant. You can definitely count me in. If you haven’t already, you can find out more about The Watercooler Event and register free here to join the 2000+ professionals with a workplace wellbeing remit, from a range of sectors, who have already signed up.
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