Royal Mail Group on financial wellbeing: 'Receiving that buy-in from senior leaders in the business is vital'

Business in the Community's (BITC) Mental Health at Work 2018 report exposed the causal relationship between finances and mental health, with 34 per cent of employees reporting that their financial situation negatively affects their mental health. We spoke to Dr Shaun Davis (pictured), Global Director of Safety, Health, Wellbeing & Sustainability at Royal Mail Group, about how the company supports financial wellbeing.

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Q: How are you feeling about the award win at the Employee Benefits Awards 2019? Why do you think Royal Mail took the top spot for best mental health strategy?

A: I am delighted and so proud that a prestigious judging panel have recognised our work on mental health and our commitment to the wellbeing of our people.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about why Royal Mail Group (RMG) has decided to focus on financial wellbeing as part of its overall wellbeing strategy? Can you tell us anything about the approach RMG are taking and how it fits in with your award-winning mental wellbeing strategy?

A: For various reasons: for example relationship breakdown, or supporting further education. We are aware of the financial difficulties that some employees may experience and the impact that could be having on their health, often their mental health.

Financial wellbeing forms part of our overarching health and wellbeing programme, Feeling First Class, which aims to actively encourage employees to take ownership of their own health and wellbeing and focuses on a range of tools and signposting to support for both mental and physical wellbeing. 

Q: At BITC we speak to a lot of organisations that are keen to do something to support employee financial wellbeing, but aren’t sure how to go about it. What advice would you give them in terms of getting started? What do you think are the most important first steps?

A: Start with listening to your employees and stakeholders, look at the feedback from engagement surveys or employee forums or similar. Review data, from your employee assistance programme for example, and understand the demographics of your organisations. Ensure you link in with external organisations like BITC or Neyber, and utilise their expertise to shape your financial wellbeing strategy and activity.

Q: Lots of companies struggle between the conflict of implementing wellbeing strategies simply because it’s the right thing to do to look after their employees, and wanting to measure a tangible return of investment for their business? Where do you stand? 

A: At Royal Mail Group we are committed to further improving our employees' physical and mental health. We aspire to develop a culture where individuals feel supported and informed to take ownership for their own health and wellbeing so that they can bring the best version of themselves to work everyday. It’s more than duty of care. 

While we review key indicators – for example, attendance levels, engagement results, feedback from listening forums and pulse surveys – we believe by investing in all aspects of wellbeing we will all feel better, perform better and create a positive working environment that we can all benefit from.

Q: What steps do you think are needed to ensure board-level buy-in for wellbeing initiatives? How important do you think their buy-in is to overall success?

A: Every organisation will face different challenges, we have been fortunate at Royal Mail with both our existing and previous chief executive officers being advocates for keeping our people safe and well at work. Receiving that buy-in from senior leaders in the business is vital to demonstrating to employees that there is a commitment right from the top of the business and that the business cares about its employees.

Senior leadership buy-in then makes it easier to access the resources and ‘air time’ required among competing business priorities to deliver a successful wellbeing programme, which can really make a difference to individuals.