The wellbeing and resilience of our employees and customers has always been central to how we do business. And in the face of COVID-19, this has never been more important. Over the last 18 months, providing our people with the resources and tools they need to approach each day with confidence, and supporting our customers to adapt clearly and quickly to their new trading conditions, has been crucial in helping those we care about better navigate uncertainty.
For us, our wellbeing program is about more than just physical health. It goes deeper into equipping our employees with the lifelong skills to do well and be well, and creating healthy places, through our WELL Portfolio recognition, for our people, customers and communities. It is holistic, innovative, and strategic, with deep roots in family.
Our approach is built around four essential skills unique to our business and that correlate with high performance: resilience, positive outlook, focus and generosity. Growing these skills helps improve personal wellbeing and enables our people to feel stronger and more capable of making the decisions they need to perform at pace, over the long term.
Importantly, our wellbeing strategy is predicated on personal choice and high levels of self-awareness. Over the past 18 months, we provided a wide range of wellbeing initiatives for our people to ‘opt into’ based on personal need and interest. These included:
- ‘Your Mindset’ sessions - Equipping our people with practical tools and habit-forming rituals to manage resilience, improve focus and retain a positive mindset through challenging times.
- Connection Rooms – A series of confidential, ‘safe spaces’ where people could share their experiences and learn resilience and mindset strategies from each other. These ‘Rooms’ then created self-sustaining eco-systems of support for participants with each other. Facilitated by not-for-profit The Banksia Project.
- ‘Managing for Team Well-being’ sessions - Equipping managers with the skills to identify signs of mental health struggle and handle conversations with their people dealing with anxiety and uncertainty. Facilitated by the Black Dog Institute (BDI).
- Leader coaching for ‘remote leadership’ - Developed a guide for leaders on ‘Leading during constant change and ambiguity’ and offered 1:1 coaching with an executive coach to enable our leaders to develop a leadership plan during COVID-19.
- Launched an internal microsite - Included online self-paced programs for mindfulness, goal setting and high-performance habits, as well as wellbeing podcasts and articles, and a range of virtual workouts.
- Financial Resilience – Education sessions curated to help our people understand and build financial resilience. This was in response to feedback that financial stress was one of the greatest contributors to poor wellbeing during COVID-19.
- Extended our EAP offering - To include tenant customers in our retail centres and extended services beyond the initial six sessions for employees in need.
- Family and Domestic Violence – Ran awareness sessions in partnership with Safework Australia to help our people identify signs of domestic violence in their co-workers. Provided relocation options for impacted people.
- Acute employee support – Facilitated an early return to the office with a structured ‘buddy’ plan for employees suffering from acute mental health challenges that had resulted from the isolation of working from home.
- Work from Home allowance – Provided an allowance for employees to purchase any furniture to setup their home working space, offered bespoke discounts with suppliers for furniture and provided a loan of bulky office equipment.
- Launched a targeted state-based lockdown wellbeing calendar – Included a virtual ‘fireside chat’ with our executive, online trivia sessions, home delivered breakfast made by social enterprise Two Good, and virtual cocktail making classes to help the team stay connected, engaged and supported.
- Working from home with kids – Curated virtual experiences for school age children to participate in to support parents working from home with their children. These sessions were run by our own employees.
Our leave benefits also include:
- WELLbeing leave – One day of leave from the personal leave balance to proactively manage their wellbeing.
- Birthday leave - An additional day of leave to celebrate their birthday.
- Thank you day – An additional day of leave to be taken in December around Christmas.
- Home-schooling leave – Additional personal leave for those in lockdown to assist with home schooling
- Volunteering days - As part of our Pledge 1% commitment which focuses on providing physical, virtual and skilled volunteering, we offer two additional paid days’ leave each financial year to participate in charitable activities in the community.
We are very proud to have won the Best Health and Wellbeing Program at the Australian HR Awards 2021. This has been a tough time for all of us, but we are so glad that we have been able to be there for our people, customers and communities when it mattered most.
As we move forward, we will continue to evolve our wellbeing program so that all of us can realise our individual potential, work productively with satisfaction, and contribute to the community.
Learn more about working at Charter Hall here.