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Garden Organic

Thrive at Work Wellbeing Awards Video Clip

Organisation Name: Garden Organic

Sector: Charity

Size of Organisation: 52 employees

Thrive Lead: Debi Rodgers

What They Do: Garden Organic is the national charity for organic growing. Through campaigning, advice, community work and research, it aims to get everyone growing organically. The charity, based in Coventry, was established in 1958 and has 44 employees as well as around 400 volunteers.

What Garden Organic did: Garden Organic completed a number of tasks to earn Thrive at Work’s ‘Bronze’ level accreditation. They began by asking employees to complete the Thrive at Work staff health survey and questionnaire, and collated the data, using the findings from the survey, a list of staff health and wellbeing priorities was compiled and steps were taken to actively inform and educate staff about the support already available to them, such as flexible working, parental leave, and bereavement policies.

Debi Rodgers, HR and compliance manager at Garden Organic, said: “The health survey enabled us to identify a number of priorities for how we could support staff. These included giving access to information and advice on sleep, physical health including how to prevent injuries, and easy access to advice about looking after mental health.

“We began providing information through staff updates, and we also arranged for external speakers to discuss more specialist topics. As well as being more proactive in reminding staff about the benefits already available, we reviewed and improved our Employee Assistance Programme, which is there to help staff deal with personal problems that may impact their work performance, health, and wellbeing.

“One of the main concerns from colleagues about using the platform was confidentiality, so we created one staff log-in rather than individual profiles. This meant everyone could be certain that any information was being accessed anonymously. “Five of our managers also became mental health first aiders, which was very important. It gave them the confidence to deal with issues that were raised and staff felt comfortable speaking to them.”

How Thrive at Work has impacted the organisation: Garden Organic have adapted policies to incorporate employee wellbeing; raised awareness around and developed what support they offer to their employees, including the provision of an Employee Assistance Programme. During COVID-19 a significant change occurred when they switched to full remote working, and for those who had competing demands in their personal lives, they tailored individual working patterns by increasing flexibility and making use of different skill sets across roles. The monthly staff meetings changed to take place on Microsoft Teams but they also changed the format to include a guest speaker on wellbeing, providing staff with another form of information and support during the challenges everyone was facing. The feedback was excellent and engagement with Thrive increased as a result.

Debi said: “People are now more willing and comfortable to be their true selves. Employees feel comfortable speaking about their mental health, knowing that we offer a range of support to suit their individual needs.

“We don’t really have many issues with staff sickness, but we’ve certainly seen a reduction since we began working towards our Thrive at Work accreditation. We’ve also seen colleagues give honest reasons for absences rather than finding other reasons to take a day off. There’s been a real reduction in the stigma associated with mental health, and now people know that it’s OK to say when they’re having a bad day. It’s made Garden Organic an even nicer place to work. Staff are now aware of the benefits that were already available, and the flexible working policy has left them feeling empowered and in control of their day – something that has been particularly helpful during lockdown while we have been working from home. Staff are also confident to share ideas and interests to benefit the health and wellbeing of others, for instance, one colleague is giving a talk on Veganuary.”

Debi added: “Achieving our bronze accreditation has had a huge impact on the organisation. It has helped improve our culture, communication and the relationship between managers and staff and I believe it will support with levels of staff retention. It’s also helped us focus on the needs of employees, anticipating these in advance rather than being reactive.”

“I’ve already recommended the Thrive at Work Workplace Wellbeing Award to others, and will certainly continue to do so. We’re looking forward to starting work on our silver level accreditation in January 2021.”

Accreditation Date: October 2020

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