Fit for the Future programme at M&S

Business in the Community Workwell Model Framework;
Working well: Positioning employee wellbeing as a strategic boardroom issue linked to securing business objectives. Creating a culture of wellbeing where employees feel trusted and respected, with a proactive approach to wellbeing, underpinned by strong governance and reporting arrangements.

Relating to the Working Well segment of the Business in the Community Workwell Model,  M&S have looked outside of their organisation to consider a range of approaches to mental health.

We took a dynamic approach to educating senior leaders around mental health as part of our ‘Fit for the Future’ programme. This involved providing senior leaders with opportunities to go outside of their normal working environment and work with external organisations, partners and charities to consider approaches to different workplace challenges.

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As part of this, 20 senior leaders worked on a challenge entitled ‘Inspiring Mental Wellbeing’. They spent time with external charity partners learning more about mental wellbeing, as well as conducting their own research. In addition, they spent time working with M&S’ Employee Wellbeing Manager to understand what the business was doing to support its employees and the impacts it had recorded.

This six-week period provided inspiration for changes that could be made by senior leaders to try and encourage a more positive culture of mental wellbeing amongst their individual teams and departments.

The programme saw success in building commitment from senior leaders to support the business’s mental wellbeing agenda. Leaders felt passionately about the topic and championed the issue within M&S once they had returned to their day-to-day roles. This included working directly with the employee wellbeing team to provide ideas and insight on new initiatives to trial specific programmes across their own departments. Leaders then reported back to the wider senior leadership group on their learnings, in turn inspiring peers to raise awareness and consider solutions to overcoming challenges around workplace wellbeing.

As a result of taking part in the programme, senior leaders in the M&S Food Business Team introduced steps to prevent unhealthy working habits such as sending emails during the weekend or late at night, and also encouraged employees to talk with colleagues rather than relying on email. Positive interventions introduced as a result of the programme also included restricted meeting length and better encouragement for employees to plan regular time away from their desks.

Beth Ryder
Employee Wellbeing Manager