Many believe that staff wellbeing programmes are exclusive to large companies with resources to invest. However small companies can still reap the benefits, and our series of SME employee wellbeing examples will highlight the smaller firms excelling in this area.
One such example is PurePlanet, an energy company based in Bath which provides affordable renewable energy to consumers in the UK. Founded in 2016 by three friends, it has experienced rapid growth and now employs 100 people. The company ethos is deliberately ‘non-corporate’ because the founders set out to create an environment which is motivating and meaningful for employees. The staff are relatively young with an average age of 34, and there’s a fair, even gender split (53% male vs 47% female).
“At Pure Planet we want to create an environment where our team enjoys their time at work and feel fulfilled; where they feel valued, can see the contribution they make and to feel confident they can be themselves. This includes being able to talk openly about mental health in the same way we would our physical health. We are so much stronger when people are able to be open, when they are happy, engaged, and loving what they do”
Andrew Ralston, CEO
How is this achieved?
In practice this means employees are trusted to manage their own workload and are able to work flexibly around their other commitments, and are offered unlimited holiday. An important part of its benefits package is that all employees are given equal benefits regardless of seniority. This covers equal gender parental leave, health insurance, and leisure perks, which all come under its Happy People benefits program.
When it comes to mental health, the founders lead by example and openly discuss their own strengths and struggles to foster a sense of normalcy around this subject. There’s also an Employee Assistance Programme and the company has two Mental Health First Aiders to turn to if staff feel the need. There are regular ‘Lunch & Learns’ on wellbeing which are delivered by external experts and internal team members.
The company’s ‘Pure Me’ programme includes personal development talks which take place as ‘walk and talk’ sessions in the local Bath countryside. All staff are invited to attend with employees split up over six-day long sessions. Each employee is encouraged to self-reflect and to discuss their learning and development aspirations.
Maintaining wellbeing in uncertain times
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the flexible nature of work and openness around mental health has helped the staff feel supported.
“What’s been most impactful in ensuring our employees know that their wellbeing is the company’s priority is that our three founders have called every employee individually, to check in and see that everyone is ok. All 100 people. Personally. A simple, cost-free act of kindness that pays dividends”
Richard Roberts, People Director.
One employee, Connor Goddard, trained with St John Ambulance to help COVID-19 victims. He was able to do so because he was working full-time from home and as part of his employment benefits at Pure Planet had unlimited holiday and flexible working hours, and therefore was supported by the company to take on voluntary work. Goddard says: ‘The support I have received from the Pure Planet and my colleagues is immense. It makes a huge difference to feel supported by my company.’
Recognition for its commitment to staff
Pure Planet has won several awards which recognise its status as a great SME employer. These include second place in the Sunday Times Top 100 Best Small Companies to Work for 2020, and the best overall company to work for in the South West where judges praised its focus on staff wellbeing.
Following the Best Companies independent survey, 100% of Pure Planet’s team agreed with this statement: ”Senior managers truly live the values of this organisation,” while the supplier also won full marks for its environmental protection, and 97% for staff wellbeing.
When it comes to employee opinions, the company has achieved a five star rating on Glassdoor, the employee review website. One staff member wrote: “You are not a number, you are part of the PP family…Privileged to be part of it!”
“Looking after our people is the best way of looking after the company, and ultimately, our members,” says Roberts. The company’s rapid growth is testament to this.
Keep an eye out for more SME employee wellbeing examples in the weeks to come.