Flight Centre New Zealand
Size: 200-499 staff
Industry: Other Services
Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) is made up of several brands which include Flight Centre, Travel Associates, Travel Managers Group (leisure travel), FCM Travel Solutions, Corporate Traveller & Stage and Screen (corporate travel) and Infinity (wholesale), we are the largest Travel Company in New Zealand. Due to Covid-19, we were forced to dramatically reduce in size, now with 400 people, and over 45 stores & offices from Kerikeri to Invercargill. Our people and our culture have always been the key pinnacles of FCTG and our purpose is to “Open the world to those who want to see”.
For Flight Centre Travel Group, the past year has been undeniably the most difficult in our history. Through it all we have strived to put the mental wellbeing of our people first, this journey began pre-covid, with a simple purpose to encourage conversation around wellness and resilience, the practices put in place have carried us through. Some of our support highlights of the past 18 months include: * #ShareYourStory (an internal campaign designed to encourage openness around mental health) * Project Remedy (to support impacted employees through Covid-19 business changes) * Top-down mental wellness training * Official sponsor, Pink Shirt Day (4 years running)
Background on situation and opportunity
Suddenly key celebrations for our people were cut, they had to work under difficult circumstances with panicked customers and suppliers, all while facing job insecurity. We were left evaluating what our culture meant to us now. Our opportunity was to open the conversation around mental wellness and create a safe space to allow our people to share freely and access the support they needed. Our goal over this time was for 100% of our business to have gone through some form of mental wellness training, and for our leaders to be equipped to best support everyone in our business.
Partnering with the MHF we had a goal to normalise the conversation around wellness in the workplace and to equip our leaders to better support our people prior to Covid. We recognised that the more supported our people felt by their leaders, the more likely they were to share concerns and worries, ultimately retaining our people. In March 2020 it became clear that the journey we had started would need to be front and center of all decisions that were being made around the business during Covid19. We needed to help our people. Project Remedy was implemented immediately when we realised our people would be impacted, understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs we created a group of experts that wanted to help others and started the work to create a programme that could support our people's basic needs. We reassessed our Mental Wellness training and recommitted to our goal of having 100pc of our business involved, this required us to take the content that we had and create morning meetings that could filter through the business and be facilitated by our leaders. In January we clearly defined our purpose “To encourage the conversations around wellness and resilience”, when agreeing on this it was important that our purpose encompassed all of Aotearoa, if our education and conversations could help one person it would be worth it. We started to document our journey. We recognised that our workplace needed to live and breathe our purpose, no one should interact with Flight Centre without understanding that we encourage the conversations around wellness and resilience. This was demonstrated in all our internal and external communications; we encouraged all our people to talk about how they were feeling and to show vulnerability across all levels of the business.
With our goal of a 100% mental wellness trained business, we began by building off our existing partnership with the Mental Health Foundation and taking a top-down approach. In January 2020, we recruited Tracey Sparksman to take intensive workshops with all 34 of our Senior leaders. Those leaders then facilitated the same course with their reports, and so on to ensure a consistent approach to mental wellness through each level of our workplace. This investment was critical as we faced Covid19. When faced with mass redundancies, pay reductions and restructures in our business, we needed a rapid and targeted plan for the wellbeing of our teams. Before any decisions were made to stand down our people, we knew that because of the incentive-based structure of our business, there would be a reduction in earnings. In March of 2020, we set up Project Remedy to help. Project Remedy began as a way to offer opportunities for additional income, by sourcing part time or temporary employment. It evolved into a one-stop-shop platform for support, with ongoing messaging about EAP, health tips and tricks, and open communication about the business. In September of 2020, as we continued to battle with no border openings and ongoing lockdowns, we knew that this Mental Health Awareness week would be our most important yet. Our focus was to encourage conversation around struggles at work and in personal lives - #ShareYourStory was born. Using Workplace, we started by getting our willing Senior Leaders to share their stories first, including our managing director, general managers and regional leaders who filmed videos talking openly about their challenges, and what steps they take to look after themselves. We were blown away by the outpouring of support for everyone who shared, and how many amazing posts followed from our people.
Engagement and communication
Once we came to realise the severity of Covid-19 and the potential impact on the business, we began twice daily communication with our full business. Morning and evening, our Managing Director David Coombes gave updates via video, posts and email. We made sure to keep the timing and format as consistent as possible, and the content transparent, even if we didn’t have much to share, as to offer some stability and consistency through a very unstable time for the world. Project Remedy began with daily communication to impacted employees, and we have continued to stay in touch with those who have left via monthly videos and regular emails of relevant new opportunities, either within our own business or elsewhere. Our inhouse health & financial services and EAP were extended past employment as to not leave stood down employees unsupported. Our preference was always to hire back past employees as we begin to rebuild, and we’ve been successful in that, so far having filled 80% of our available roles with returners. The success of #ShareYourStory saw fantastic engagement on our internal comms platform, with 105 comments of support and 489 likes. To follow on from our Mental Wellness workshops and continue the conversation, we designed a series of posters for the office and online to highlight key learnings. Topics included “knowing the signs & checking in on a teammate”, “self-care tips while at work” and “a how to on having mental health conversations”. For our hugely successful Hour of Empowerment, we have seen continued and regular participation, with hundreds of photos of our people sharing their use of the weekly hour, from nail appointments to netball practices to mole maps.
Given the extremely challenging circumstances that our people have been working under, we have been so thrilled with the improvement in workplace wellness, engagement and even staff retention. The vulnerability and openness that our people at all levels of the business have shown, and continue to show, has been incredible. We are confident that we have created a safe space for sharing, where our people do not fear judgement for sharing their struggles. The wellness of our people is regularly incorporated into business decisions on every scale, and mental wellness check ins are now an expected part of weekly and daily meetings. Engagement in our health services (Healthwise) sits at 58% of the business, meaning over half of the company are actively taking part in regular education and/or health challenges. Excluding redundancies, 85% of our people have remained with the business over the past 18 months. We have begun to rebuild our business and in doing so have hired 50 new roles this calendar year alone. Over 80% of those roles have been filled by past Flight Centre employees, largely due to the work that we have done to maintain relationships with our leavers via Project Remedy. As we continue our journey for wellness in the workplace we are encouraged by our interactions with other companies and providers of wellness solutions. Flight Centre New Zealand has a clear purpose to “Encourage the conversation around wellness and resilience” and are proud of the results of the past 18 months. We believe all our strategies are sustainable and scalable to ensure the ongoing health and wellbeing of not only FCNZ but also their whānau, friends and the greater community of Aotearoa.
Each year, we look forward to celebrating Pink Shirt Day as an official sponsor of the day. The heart of Pink Shirt Day is about celebrating diversity and creating an inclusive environment. Our people love to get involved and will host morning teas, wear their pink shirts and fill our workplace pages with pictures of pink. We have enjoyed involving our customers in our celebrations as well, utilizing our digital storefronts and positive messages via social media to spread the word. To show our commitment to Pink Shirt Day, the Flight Centre brand turns pink, steering away for one day only from our iconic red – you'll even spot our captain in a pink shirt on all interchangeable marketing collateral. Our other key charity partner, Halberg Foundation, work to make sports accessible for physically disabled young Kiwi’s. It’s a cause that we’ve supported for 7 years and annually we volunteer as a business at the Halberg Games, NZ biggest disabled sporting event. This year we had 27 volunteers participating over three days. As part of our company wide mental wellness training, we incorporated Te whare tapa whā model to provide an important Māori perspective on hauora. We have continued to use this model throughout our work by focusing on the 5 dimensions to provide a rounded approach – taha wairua, taha hinengaro, taha tinana, whenua and taha whānau. Opening conversation around gender diversity is important to us, we have started with communication and education on pronouns, and a company-wide diversity and inclusion survey to find out more about our people in terms of culture and identity. An important part of this survey is finding any areas of improvement in the business to ensure Flight Centre is a safe and welcoming environment.
Innovation and creativity
We believe in taking a holistic approach to workplace wellness by providing our people with resources applying to health in all aspects of life, from diet and exercise to financial and mental wellness. Healthwise and Moneywise are our internal services there to help our people, and we were sure to preserve these parts of the business during COVID-19. Over the past 18 months we have continued to provide both one on one and group support towards nutrition, exercise, health, safety, financial budgeting and mental wellbeing. This approach allows our people to choose what is right for them and create positive change. Some of our most engaged monthly challenges over the past 18 months include, * 100km in May – a steps challenge where participants walked or ran over 27,418KMs in one month. Following the longest lockdown this encouraged and supported our people to be outside and active. * 21 day unplug challenge - digital detoxing, educating that constant technology and media significantly impacts wellbeing. * 8 week challenge – a global challenge to improve health and wellbeing, while connecting and sharing their journey, showing empathy and encouraging each other via workplace. Alongside our wellness workshops we have a focus on improving the whole workplace via education and our Healthy teams programme, a 30-minute session that we run with all our teams remotely monthly, educating them on sleep, stress management, gut health, minerals, vitamins, and more. In addition, we have recently released some individual quizzes with QR codes for our people - “Perceived Stress Scale” and “Exercise Personality” test, each of these are individually followed up on completion with further information and solutions. We continue to innovate monthly to create content that can support our people in many ways and complement our wellness workshops, project remedy and EAP.
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David Coombes, MD Flight Centre NZ (Flight Centre NZ)
021716138 • [email protected]
Heidi Walker, GM People and Culture (Flight Centre)
021775716 • [email protected]