Prioritising Workplace Wellbeing: our journey so far 

Our aim was to create a culture within the team where everyone felt valued, felt able to speak up and where there were high levels of trust.

In a small and busy charity focused on delivering support to our pharmacy family, it could be easy to overlook the importance of employee wellbeing. However, as wellbeing is at the centre of all that we do, we understand investing in staff wellbeing and creating the right organisational culture is vital not only for our own success but also for the wellbeing of the pharmacy family we serve. 

The events of 2020 and the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic re-enforced and highlighted more widely the need to support our teams. People are at heart of what we do, so why wouldn’t we support and invest in them! 

Where we started  

Our aim was to create a culture within the team where everyone felt valued, felt able to speak up and where there were high levels of trust. This aim was built on our values of People First, Empowerment, Positivity and Fairness. 

We knew we needed to engage our team to find out where we could improve things to improve wellbeing, so we decided to implement an annual staff survey. We launched a staff survey in 2019 to gain insights into the challenges our team members were facing and committed to repeating this annually to track progress and keep abreast of emerging trends.  

The survey was the catalyst to drive change. Crucially, if we were asking people their thoughts, we knew we needed to show we were acting on them, and that their voice matters. Importantly, there was commitment from the leadership within the charity and the openness to change to allow this to happen. 
Danielle Hunt, Chief Executive at Pharmacist Support

Key wellbeing initiatives 

The survey enabled us to develop a plan, which is updated each year. The plan contains areas of focus which are most important to staff members. Below are some of the initiatives that have taken place: 

  • Changed internal structures and policies we recognised some of our policies and procedures were creating problems. There was lack of clarity in some areas that created frustration and confusion. As a result, we created a suite of new policies and also created a staff handbook. Some key areas we reviewed or created new policies included: 
  • Flexible and hybrid working – we had standard working hours 9am-5pm in the Manchester office. We recognised this created stress and pressure and didn’t support people to create a healthy work life balance. We created a more flexible approach built on trust, which by far has had the greatest positive impact on wellbeing. 
  • Review of approach to reward and recognition – we have reviewed our whole approach to reward and recognition and made a number of changes. We implemented a new pay review structure to ensure fairness and transparency.
  • Wellbeing budget and resource – as part of our internal wellbeing service, we are lucky to have wellbeing experts in the charity who have supported this work. However, we also set a wellbeing budget for the year and bring in other experts when appropriate to work with the team. The wellbeing budget is spent on a range of things, from small exercise equipment to wellbeing lunches.
  • Invested in training for our Senior Management – we recognised that our Senior Management Team played a pivotal role in driving forward our plans. We focused on building a solid high-functioning SMT which then in turn has allowed us to create this across the team. Their support and commitment were essential in creating a culture of wellbeing within the organisation.
  • Time for the team – particularly since covid, we have tried to make time for the team to be together. We now have an annual team away day and make time for regular wellbeing sessions, led by both external and internal experts. We have also created space on our monthly team meeting agendas which focus on being open and honest so we can work through any issues as a team. In these meeting we discuss individual team priorities and try to identify crunch points, so that the wider team can support, or at the very least have an awareness. 
  • Developed a training and development plan for staff – we recognised that people felt more valued when we invested in their personal development. As ‘learning’ is a key pillar in the five ways to wellbeing, we knew that this would be good from an individual wellbeing perspective and in turn, the wider organisation.
  • Implemented the HSE Survey – more recently, we have also utilised the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) survey to assess and improve our workplace conditions, ensuring the physical and mental wellbeing of our team. This delves deeper than our own survey and has provided us an opportunity as a team to discuss workload and crunch points. 
  • Focus on communication – effective communication is fundamental to wellbeing. We have now started to focus on training in communication techniques to enhance interpersonal skills. We also encourage people to speak up if they are having a difficult time, and ensure that an element of monthly 1-2-1s is a wellbeing check-in. 

Some of our Pharmacist Support team members

Our aim was to create a culture within the team where everyone felt valued, felt able to speak up and where there were high levels of trust.

What’s next 

Development of the Embracing a Workplace Wellbeing Culture course for pharmacy managers and leaders has allowed us to further reflect on our own practices. In developing the course, the team has looked at a range of workplace wellbeing practices and identified a few areas where we could implement further changes. One such concept which we plan to introduce in 2024 is “My Wellbeing Plans”. We hope these plans allow us to be even more open and honest and enable us to better support individuals if they are having a difficult time.  

In addition, we recognise that our work on equality, diversity and inclusion cuts across our wellbeing work, and our commitments around equality, diversity and inclusion will work to improve our workplace culture further and the wellbeing of our beneficiaries.  

Has it been worth it? 

To create change we have invested both budget and staff time – and it has been absolutely worth it! Our annual staff survey has allowed us to track trends and there has been improvement in staff satisfaction. We have also seen an increase in staff retention. Through our journey, we have learned that by living and breathing the principles of wellbeing, we can create a supportive workplace culture that benefits everyone. During the ACTNow campaign, you’ll hear from some of our team members who will share their individual stories, highlighting the impact of our wellbeing initiatives.