In October, we announced a partnership with Calibro, which offered their clients enhanced wellbeing solutions.

The partnership was launched last month with an intimate opening event, the first in a series of ‘Inspired Sessions’ about enhancing the wellbeing of people at work. Professionals from various sectors of industry – from tech and property to legal and financial research – joined us at MCS Group’s Townhall Space in The Ewart, Belfast, to hear from a panel of experts on the topic.

Alex Bunting, Inspire’s Group Director of Therapeutic and Wellbeing Services, laid out an overview on the state of wellbeing in the workplace, the challenges organisations face and the steps they can take to set and meet objectives.

Ruth Cunningham, Group Head of HR at MCS Group, talked about improving employee engagement, expectations from candidates in today’s market and what wellbeing looks like at MCS Group. She detailed the ways in which the company is implementing the eight pillars of its MCS Life programme: mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing, digital wellbeing, financial wellbeing, social wellbeing, community, EDI and sustainability.

Following this, Calibro Managing Director Ronnie Crawford outlined the importance of prioritising employee wellbeing during the workplace-design phase.

The discussion covered subjects as diverse as catering for neurodiversity in the workplace and workplace wellbeing strategies. On the latter point, the panel agreed that such strategies should be informed by actively listening to employees and living an organisation’s mission, vision and values, thus avoiding any sense of tokenism around staff wellbeing.

Alex noted that many employers are now implementing Employee Assistance Programmes to provide team members with access to mental health services. This, he said, represents a recognition that the barriers to utilising these services in Northern Ireland, due to extensive waitlists in the NHS for psychological support, are significant.

Another key insight that emerged was the importance of top-down, and bottom-up, wellbeing strategies. For example, MCS Group has pillar-specific champions throughout its organisation, one for each area of the MCS Life programme. Many of these employees come from beyond the management team or HR function. This helps to share the programme’s workload, foster employee engagement with various workplace initiatives and encourage uptake of the available services.

From a recruitment perspective, we heard that one of the first questions often asked by candidates looking for new roles is about company culture. Working patterns were also of great interest, namely flexible or hybrid arrangements and a prioritisation of work-life balance. Issues including sustainability and salary and benefits remain high on the agenda for many prospective new colleagues.

We provides support services for the education sector across the island of Ireland and we have noted that graduates seeking opportunities in the workforce now possess a baseline expectation in relation to employer-provided services. This highlights the growing need to prioritise employee wellbeing and, in conjunction with you employees, continually evaluate your offering. These need to be fully utilised to meet the requirements of your workforce. Executed authentically, and with intent, a wellbeing strategy can distinguish you in a busy talent market.

The next instalment of the Calibro x Inspire series will take place in May 2024. To register your interest, please complete this EOI form.