Wellbeing Champions: we recently interviewed Shelby King from The Bristol Hotel

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Which company do you work for and how large is your organisation?

We are part of The Doyle Collection, an Irish owned company with 8 properties and 1300 people.
I am Human Resources Manager at The Bristol Hotel and we have 130 people working here.

What are your thoughts on engagement and staff wellbeing?

It’s so important. To drive culture and get our people involved we need to take into account what makes people tick.

The idea that you leave your ‘personal life’ at home doesn’t reflect the workplace that we want. We want our people to bring their best/whole self and we are keen to create an environment where they can do that. Everyone has personal moments and we should celebrate the good ones and being supportive through any challenges. This feeds part of wellbeing, engagement and a positive culture.

What challenges do you face regarding employee engagement? Are there any barriers, i.e. locational, cultural or language?

Shift patterns can be hard for communication – as a hotel we run 24 hours a day and trying to communicate equally can be a challenge. We use e-mail, messaging and posters to help with this, but the advantage with face-to-face meetings is that you can instantly measure engagement.
We do trust that our department heads carry the baton of communication and assist them in this so it’s within their comfort zone.

We have 24 different nationalities working in the hotel– but surprisingly this is the easiest to include as we all try to learn each other’s cultures through ‘Belonging Day’. We celebrate cultures, nationalities and generations, our culture is based on respect – we can all respect our differences when we understand each other more.

One challenge could be staff food – so we regularly have a guest chef – someone will organise and bring in their favourites from their country. We have had Jerk chicken, Polish stew and dumplings and other great dishes that give staff a chance to celebrate their home cooking.

What challenges have you faced in creating a wellbeing programme?

We created a festival of wellbeing to introduce 6 features of wellbeing to the team. Wellbeing has been on our agenda for 2 years. In conjunction with Go Green we won an award in 2016. Also we work with Great Places to Work as part of the Doyle Collection.

We have been undertaking activities since 2014/15 but every year we get bigger.

We identified an opportunity within the business and wanted to put something collaborative in across all the hotels and reached the different demographics in the workplace.

We are also trying to get a balance between those workers who are physically fit due to an active job and those who are mentally challenged through a stressful but sedentary job – wellbeing is important to all of us regardless of job position or lifestyle.

We created a six-week festival with six categories – Mind, Body, Rest, Work, Giving, and Learning. Some weeks were easy for example learning – we have the facilities to do this through our Doyle Collection online learning platform.

A hard week was Body. It’s easy to give information but hard to engage in a group activity. Passively people would learn, but to organise an in person group challenge like a fitness class – people were hesitant. It can be a challenge to commit to an exercise class with other people you don’t know that well. People did smaller, team challenges and that worked better.

What worked really well was a 6-week step challenge. Our goal was 4,410 miles as a hotel in the 6 weeks – the number of steps needed to visit every property within the group. It was passive, we each counted our own steps and then we shared our results. The challenge sparked some healthy competition too!
Perhaps because it was a more subtle thing to do rather than one activity it worked well!
Our target was to land at The Dupont Circle in Washington on the 4th July and we achieved this so we had a celebration, our pastry chef made an amazing cake decorated with the stars and stripes flag of the States.

Do you have support within the business?

I’ve always had great support here, Mark Payne, General Manager has always been fully supportive of the investment into wellbeing resources and activities, he even cycled from Bristol to Paris raising over £1800 for charity.

How often do you engage in wellbeing activities across the business?

We had a big focus from May to June, since then we have something as a touch point to re-visit regularly, i.e. our Learning Ambassador meeting – learning rather than training.
Under the Giving header we have constant touch points with our nominated charity – to give to the food bank, to raise money or give time. If our staff want to give blood they get two hours off to do it.

We constantly go back to our agenda and the six topics. We have a half marathon team, staff parties and our daily wow – creating a positive working environment.

And in October we launched a new wellbeing competition, every team member within the hotel has been divided into 6 Wellbeing teams, our goal is to collect as many wellbeing tokens for the team as possible during the month by taking proactive wellbeing steps, tokens can be earnt by drinking 2 litres of water, eating 5 fruit/veg. sleeping 8 hours per night, participating in an activity, learning something new, noticing nature etc.

The team with the most tokens will earn a team “surprise and delight”. Fingers crossed the purple team do well – That’s my team ☺

What would you like to be able to offer in a perfect world?

To give each person one hour to focus on their own wellbeing each week. Our customer is always our priority and so we need to be at our best for our guests. It would be lovely for people to create a decent opportunity for themselves and dedicate that time and space to improve their mental and physical health.

I think the wellbeing competition we launched in October goes along way to empower the team to do just that.

Do you have advice for a HR team starting to look at wellbeing in their workplace and any final thoughts?

Start by putting a perspective on what wellbeing is for your organisation and it’s people, for example the Five Ways to Wellbeing by the charity MIND. Put activities into a sensible practice.
Look at each area – what is the aim?

Look at company activities, i.e. if your staff are sedentary – look at movement. If they are active and busy look at turning the brain off. Tailor your activities to your organisation and know what fish you are going to catch!

Then look at the bigger picture – the wider community that you are a part of. When you are thinking of the wider wellbeing it has to have levels of purpose and value to the people, the business and the stakeholders.

Big thanks go to Shelby and her team for being our Wellbeing Champions – you were a delight to work with!

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