Posted / November 4, 2019
HR Stars is our series of interviews with prominent industry figures, who reveal the unique ways in which they’re fostering wellbeing in their workplaces. This time, we talk to ALEX TUNBRIDGE, Chief Executive at Stevenage Football Club, an English Football League Two club boasting commercial partners such as Burger King and Sky Bet.
Tell us about the importance of workplace wellbeing to the success of your business?
Football is a fast-paced industry in which supporters demand to be engaged and entertained 24/7, so in essence, our product is ‘always on’.
That said, ensuring positive wellbeing in the workplace is vital, for our players, ground staff, office staff and volunteers alike. To achieve success on the pitch and keep-up with these demands, you need to have a strong, motivated and happy team off the pitch.
It is important to recognise when downtime is needed, especially after a cup run or busy fixture period. We have a great group of staff at the club who work incredibly hard to ensure we punch above our weight on the field. Ensuring that they have a happy and balanced work life is key if we want to continue to be successful.
What particular initiatives do you have in place?
We offer flexible working hours for staff who undertake duties on match days. Our fixtures take place at weekends and evenings, so a 400-mile trip to an away match midweek is not unusual, therefore making sure that staff have time to recover and spend time with their families is important.
We also encourage our staff to have lunch together. In the First Team and Academy environment, this takes place every day and once a week within the office environment.
Where possible we also try and engage the families of the staff in the club as much as we can, be it with a match day or a summer open day.
How have they impacted the business?
The biggest impact has come from our match day flexible working hours. It is difficult to go to the bank or attend a personal appointment when you are working six days a week and evenings, so the policy gives staff some flexibility, so that their personal lives can still function and it has been well-received. Our staff seem fresher, more energetic and more focused on their job whilst they are at work than they were before. They no longer have the stresses of running to the bank or scrambling to buy a birthday present in their lunch hour.
Our absence levels have also reduced by over 20%.
It is also important that the families of the staff have an understanding of the football club and feel a part of it. Our summer open days are also well-received and it is great to see the families of the staff engaging with each other and interacting at their loved ones’ place of work.
What would you like to improve on or implement in the future?
In the next year, I think the focus will turn to the office environment. Attention needs to be paid to the office and desk layouts, so we can ensure that people’s posture and sight are not adversely affected by their work operations.
Natural light and fresh air are also vital components of people’s wellbeing, as are exercise levels.
I would love to be able to address some of these areas, whilst mental wellbeing is very topical at the moment, it is important we don’t forget about the importance of physical wellbeing.
What is the number one principle of human resources/workplace wellbeing that you’d pass on to a younger HR manager?
Everyone in an organisation is different and often they all undertake very different roles. It is important to understand each individuals’ needs and circumstances, their workloads and how they can be supported to maintain a work/life balance.
Just because someone looks fit and healthy, it doesn’t always mean they are okay. Taking the time to ask someone how they are can be one of the most valuable activities in a working week for you to undertake.