Employees Come First
If it’s good enough for Richard Branson, what can other businesses learn about staff wellbeing, and ultimately – how can it benefit business growth and profitability?
Let’s get our People Director’s point-of-view as he reflects on his whirlwind time so-far, and the unforeseen growth strategy of merely “lending an ear”.
World Mental Health Day is a global, annual event that takes places on 10th October. This day acknowledges all aspects of mental health; the importance of it, the awareness of it, commiserates those who suffer with it whilst celebrating working towards improving support, education and resource to help towards it.
This year’s World Mental Health Day falls upon our People Director, Lee Green’s, 6-month anniversary working at HBP Systems. Lee is not just the first ever People Director at HBP Systems, he invented the role of People Director. Prior to his current position, he worked as a Delivery/Consulting Director, helping companies develop their Human Resource departments, and improve wellbeing in the workplace. The Directors at HBP decided that they didn’t just want Lee’s help with improving their HR, they wanted him to be our HR.
Benefits That Benefit Everyone
It is a principle passion and goal for us at HBP to be listed on the Times 100 – Best Small Businesses To Work For, which is an accreditation that primarily reflects upon the job satisfaction of our employees. Increasing employee benefits was quickly identified as a simple means to improve to this, however, our directors were not interested in just “simple”. Like everything, they wanted unique, best-fit and the right solution for the future. When management considered what would make HBP the best place to work and make us stand out within our industry, they were faced with a challenging resolution – investing in employee mental health and well-being.
When Lee began at HBP, he had a target; “to remove the harsh stigma from HR and stop it being depicted as a place of discipline”. After less than a year in the role, Lee is “satisfied that the staff at HBP understand why I am here and know that coming to HR is not a bad thing”. As the newly instated People Director, Lee is responsible for traditional areas of HR such as legality, absence, hiring and contracting, however, as his job title would suggest, Lee is about working with the company’s ‘people’. Lee offers one-to-one coaching, support and training to all staff members, including his fellow directors. Mental health is at the forefront of Lee’s role and he describes staff mental well-being as a “responsibility” and is absolutely thriving within a “unique” company that invests in this resource.
A New Direction
Mental Health dominates Lee’s time, and this comes as a direct response by the staff at HBP. “If you build it. They will come,” says Lee, and mental health, in all of its guises seems to be a very important part of our daily lives. Lee has revolutionised HR for HBP with the feedback from his support and coaching sessions being overwhelmingly positive from staff. Merely providing people with an open ear at work, has truly opened up staff who may appear to be the most closed off. As a former Delivery/Consulting Director, Lee used to consider his clientele to consist of a business as a whole. He was a strategist, that worked with HR departments to improve them. Now that Lee is internal HR, he considers his clients to be every single employee at HBP Systems, and our two sister companies, Kamarin Computers and Copier Systems.
“I emotionally connect with people and working with them to identify their best self is what I specialise in. When people are feeling their best self, they are at their most stable, productive and happiest … what company would not want that for their staff?”.
Experienced And Challenged
The early career of the father-of-three may seem like a world away from his current role as a director of an IT and software solutions company, but it completely shaped his ethics and skills as a mental health professional. After graduating from the University of Hull in 2001, Lee began working in the Theatre as a stage actor. After spending 8-years touring the U.K, Lee grew tired of the road and returned to his roots in Hull. One of his performances at The Hull Truck Theatre Company enabled him to network with its employees behind the scenes, which led to Lee becoming the institutes Education and Outreach Officer, and eventually going on to run the department. Lee achieved remarkable things within this position including an increase of the Youth Theatre’s membership from 30 to 260. However, his most proud achievement was a Community Outreach Project that he was involved in whilst at the Theatre.
The project involved engaging with people within the local community who were struggling due to mental health, vulnerability, domestic issues or financial difficulty. Lee managed the “brilliant scheme” whereby these people were invited and welcomed into Hull Truck Theatre to utilise their performing arts resources with the aim of putting on a production. “For me, the key skill that I developed in the theatre is how to be good with people, which in my experience, is the downfall of many organisations”.
A Company’s Worth In Gold
All the staff at HBP Systems are encouraged to approach Lee for coaching or support and it was mandatory for them to meet with him to conduct a PrintTM Survey. PrintTM is the psychometric analysis of an individual’s core value system. Lee considers this to be an extremely useful practice as it encourages people to be more empathetic and accepting of other people’s values and belief systems. Lee’s coaching and training heavily focuses on the management team, as in his opinion, “realistically, managers don’t have the training in how to manage people, they become managers because they are very good at their profession – not because they’re a good manager”. HBP’s People Director believes that if a company fails to provide sufficient training for their managers, it sets off a hugely negative chain-reaction throughout the business and can dramatically influence the mental health of all staff.
“People don’t leave companies, they leave managers”.
Lee Green – People Director, HBP Systems
In Lee’s experience from working with and for other companies, “many are driven by money and the staff are a detriment”. Contrarily, HBP Systems proudly herald their staff as their biggest asset, which is one the salient values that made HBP so enticing as a prospect for Lee. For him, considering the mental health of their staff has got to be a priority for any forward-thinking company. Coupled with investing in sufficient management training, everyone’s needs can be met, and a positive, pro-active and profitable culture can be effectively nurtured.
The World Has Changed
When asked about the evolution of attitudes towards mental health in the world of business Lee states that “it just was not talked about when I began working”. Despite the dramatic increase in awareness of mental health over the last few years, it is still uncommon for it to be acknowledged in the workplace, “especially in the IT industry”. Despite this, we at HBP take immense pride in the steps we have taken to support the mental well-being of our employees. We understand that your work environment is where you will spend the majority of your life, so it is vital that space supports you mentally.
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”.
Richard Branson – English Business Magnate, Investor & Philanthropist
Building a great place to work involves investing in your staffs’ wellbeing and tackling mental health head-on. At HBP, we’ve seen a measurable benefit in beginning to address it, not just in our ethos, our staff feedback or our day-to-day working environment. We hope this will help our Top 100 bid, not for the accreditation, but to know that our staff consider this a great place to be and enjoy coming to work. To learn more about what we are doing and how you can get involved for the benefit of your staff, drop Lee a line or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.