A well-structured, extensive programme of support gave Ofcom the slight edge over its rivals in this hotly contested category.
In the past few years, the communications regulator has implemented an agile working policy – every job advertised now offers flexibility on working hours and location. Line managers are encouraged to support requests for flexible working, and about 30 per cent of all staff now work flexibly in some way; for example, with part-time or compressed hours, working from home (pre-COVID-19), term-time working and other working patterns.
In Ofcom's Future Leaders programme, all participants evaluate themselves against 10 leadership skills at the start, middle and end of the programme – all scores increased by the end. One member of the comms team who took part in the programme was promoted.
Part of the scheme involves personality profiling using the "Facet5" approach, to understand participants' strengths and what they can bring to the team.
A typical annual training budget of £1,000 is allocated to each employee. Staff are encouraged to volunteer for relevant courses, although sometimes specific training sessions will be made available. For example, the comms team recently attended a one-day news-writing course.
Mental health is a key area of focus, and all line managers have to complete training to identify issues. Ofcom has a team of 50 trained Mental Health First Aiders, while a "Listening Network" of volunteers across the organisation offers employees confidential chats. There's a 24-hour hotline, offering advice on issues from stress and anxiety to financial concerns, and Ofcom's medical insurer gives staff the option of calling an expert counsellor or psychologist.
This year the organisation launched Thrive, a programme to support wellbeing. Offering a range of e-learning and online resources, this focuses on three strands: mental health, physical health and volunteering.
The internal comms team has 'gone into overdrive' amid the coronavirus crisis. Colleagues discuss how they are feeling – personally, not just about work – and a 'pulse survey' has been launched to find out broader trends around the impact of the crisis on mental health of staff. The results will inform future steps.
Highly Commended: Kent Police
Kent Police impressed the judges with its progressive ideas and thoughtful programmes.
Feel Well Live Well (FWLW) is a wellbeing programme to help employees boost their psychological resilience in a group setting. It includes four half-day modules over four weeks, taking attendees "on a journey of self-reflection", looking at how to get the best out of communication and relationships, exploring self care and relaxation techniques.
There are separate versions for junior and senior staff, to allay concerns that junior employees may be less willing to share if they were among their seniors.
A 'healthy living hub', which sits under FWLW, includes confidence workshops, and workshops on the themes of mental health and stress management.
The force's 'idea drop' allows all staff to suggest ideas via an internal social-media platform.
Judges commended Kent Police's '#MoreThanTheBadge' campaign to encourage more non-white people to join the service. Innovative strategies include advertising on TV channels and Spotify playlists that are popular with under-represented communities. Ads will also run, for example, on bus routes through areas with target demographics. The approach can be as specific as advertising on phone kiosks outside mosques.
Pernod Ricard UK