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PDMS' journey to wellbeing in the workplace

Insight Published on 08 July 2024

PDMS recently participated in a wellbeing conference as part of a panel session, which gave me pause to reflect on all things related to wellbeing at PDMS.  I thought I’d share with you some insights into our company's wellbeing journey over the past 30 years.

Research among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has shown that while most employers recognise their role, many face multiple barriers to investing in health and wellbeing support, such as a lack of expertise, time constraints and cost.  

In this article, I’ve included examples of how, as an SME, we’ve put together a wellbeing programme which is valued by our team and helps to support a healthy work-life balance.  

What instigated you to start looking at PDMS' wellbeing? 

Throughout our 30 years in business, PDMS has always put wellbeing at the centre of everything we do, with a particular focus on a positive work-life balance. In the early 90s when we were a much smaller company, wellbeing was an area that our founders were very conscious of. As the company has grown, we’ve maintained a strong emphasis on the wellbeing of our team.  

We provide technology services and rely on our talented team to deliver them. Our people are the key to the success of our business, so it’s important that they feel valued, supported and happy at work. In a competitive market where skills are in high demand and short supply, this is even more important.  

A few years ago, we undertook a significant strategic review to refocus on our vision, mission and values. We held focus groups with our staff and carried out internal surveys, which highlighted that wellbeing was one of our key strengths. This put a renewed focus on wellbeing across the entire company. We also introduced a number of guiding principles, one of which is “We invest in our people by providing an environment which promotes both personal and professional growth”.  

How was it positioned to your senior management team?  What did they engage with the most? 

In all honesty, this was an easy sell. The senior management team has always recognised the importance of wellbeing as part of a healthy and positive culture and in leading by example. It was more about formalising our approach and ensuring that our wellbeing programme evolved to meet the needs of our team.  

One area that the senior management team was particularly keen to support was how we received regular feedback to ensure our wellbeing programme continued to make a positive difference to our team. In 2019, we invested in Peakon, an employee engagement tool (now owned by Workday) that provides us with regular insights into our employee sentiment.

Every six weeks we send out an anonymous survey covering many different areas including staff engagement, health and wellbeing, and company values. This has helped us to develop new wellbeing initiatives and receive feedback on how valuable they are to our staff.  We’ve gained tangible insight into the actions we’ve taken and can demonstrate to employees their feedback is genuinely listened to and helps to inform our wellbeing strategy.  

Who is responsible for workplace wellbeing? 

Wellbeing now covers a wide remit including:

  • Mental, emotional and physical health
  • Personal growth - opportunities for continued learning and progression
  • Social wellbeing - having meaningful friendships and connections at work
  • Community wellbeing - having the opportunities to support their local community through volunteering etc. 

It really is all-encompassing and needs to be integrated throughout the whole organisation - embedded in culture, leadership, and people management.  Everyone has a role to play and it’s not the responsibility of one person alone.  

Our workplace culture is influenced and driven by our staff feedback, whether through the Peakon survey, monthly one-to-ones with line managers, or internal channels such as our Wellbeing Committee or Social Value Steering Group.  Everyone has a voice which is important, so it’s not seen as a forced initiative driven solely by HR.  

Our culture is naturally open and approachable, and we encourage conversations across all levels. We’ve tried to embed wellbeing into everything we do and take a human approach despite being in quite a technical environment. We encourage people to look out for each other in all aspects of their time at PDMS. 

What was your first initiative? 

As the company has grown and we have more financial resources, we’ve introduced a much wider range of wellbeing support. For example, we recently gave all our staff and their families free access to the Headspace app to support mental health through meditation and mindfulness.   

Back in the early days when we were less than 20 employees, we were still able to focus on wellbeing by supporting flexible working patterns and providing time for professional development. We also went the extra mile to support staff members when they were going through tough times for personal reasons.

Additionally, we’ve always put a lot of emphasis on the social side with a subsidised social club. This is even more valuable post-covid where people aren’t necessarily in the office, so it provides a valuable opportunity to forge friendships and strengthen relationships.

 A collage of PDMS Social Club event photos   

Do you have a strategy? What did you align it with?

Wellbeing is part of our wider company strategy to be an “employer of choice”. It’s part of our culture, our DNA, and embedded into our guiding principles (“We invest in our people by providing an environment which promotes both personal and professional growth”).

We track our performance through our surveys, and have Key Performance Indicators about staff engagement and targets set to ensure that everyone across the company is spending time on personal and professional development. 

More recently, we formalised a wellbeing group to plan our events and initiatives regularly throughout the year. Overall, we have aimed to prioritise longer-term sustainable initiatives that have longer lasting impacts. We’ve tried to focus on a blend of all aspects of wellbeing and ensure we cover all angles to suit a variety of needs.  

What were your challenges? How did you overcome these?

As an SME, sometimes affordability has been an issue. However, some things can be achieved without breaking the bank. For example, we’ve set up a wellbeing channel in Microsoft Teams to promote initiatives such as step challenges, share the benefits of exercise, and ask people to share photos of what makes them happy.

We encourage staff to give each other recognition through our “Kudos” channel and regularly give “Thank You” awards.  We’ve also trained and appointed 10% of our company as Mental Health First Aiders in our offices and regularly hold wellbeing topics on a variety of tips including sleeping, stress and anxiety, posture, nutrition, menopause, mindfulness and more. These sessions are often recorded and provide a library of talks available to existing staff and new starters. These are just a few examples of how you can develop a good workplace culture without huge budgets.  

Another challenge is keeping the momentum going so you are continually evolving your wellbeing programme and importantly ensuring that what you are doing is valued by your staff.  

What measurable impact has the wellbeing initiatives given? 

Our six-weekly staff surveys cover a wide range of wellbeing topics from mental health to physical and social wellbeing and organisational support. We measure our performance, and benchmark our results against other companies in our sector. Our Health & Wellbeing score is 8.6, putting us in the top 25% of technology companies.  

Our focus on wellbeing has also contributed to low staff turnover, with our average length of service currently standing at 11.3 years (June 2024), and also a low number of days lost to staff sickness – in 2023, this figure was 3.4 days which is much lower than the average of 5.5 days (CIPD 2023).  

Wellbeing has also definitely helped with recruitment. We regularly get feedback from candidates and new starters who say that they were drawn to PDMS because of the focus on wellbeing, learning, and supporting our wider community. We have a great work-life balance at PDMS and this sets us apart from many other organisations.  

A focus on wellbeing has also had an impact on productivity, and therefore the bottom line. We have a contented workforce with high morale and high commitment who deliver a great service to our clients.  

What advice would you give to other organisations?

Small things can make a huge difference - For example, it’s important that our employees can fit their lives around work, so we provide paid time off for health appointments of any kind. Our team then don’t have to worry about attending appointments or making time up and can prioritise their health. 

Recognise that your wellbeing programme won't be perfect for everyone - Some people will be highly engaged but others won’t, and that’s fine. Just as long as there’s support in place if needed. 

Talk to your staff – get regular feedback and don’t limit it to a single survey once a year. Find out what matters to them and if the initiatives you are putting in place are having a positive impact. Track your progress over time.  

Invest extra time and energy into your line managers - They will be helping to drive and deliver your wellbeing programme, so make sure you give them the tools and knowledge to help monitor and support the wellbeing of their teams.   

To find out more about life at PDMS, visit our Careers section!

Topics

  • Wellbeing
  • Inclusivity
  • Our People
  • Social Value