Beca


Nominee/entrant details

Beca


Organisation details

Size: 1,000-4,999 staff

Industry: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services


Organisation background

Beca is one of Asia-Pacific’s largest independent advisory, design and engineering consultancies, with more than 3,300 employees in 21 offices around the world, delivering projects in 70+ countries. Our vision is ‘Creative people together transforming our world’. It reflects our culture, our aspirations and our purpose - to make everyday better. We work hard to deliver successful solutions and exceptional service, helping our clients shape communities, optimise their assets and streamline their operations. We are employee-owned which drives our high performing, growth-oriented culture. It sets us apart from our competitors, and it gives meaning to our social contract.


Executive summary

As a professional services consultancy, our people are our biggest asset. We have a value driven, high performing culture that we are proud of, however some projects and deadlines can cause increased stress and fatigue. We wanted to change the organisation’s mindset that this should no longer be acceptable practice due to the impact on the psychological wellbeing of our people. This change needed to be led by our leaders, enabling them to truly live our Value of Care, changing our organisational culture so that everyone’s mental health and wellbeing is a #1 priority, and that’s what we did!


Background on situation and opportunity

As a professional services consultancy, we sell our time and services. Beca is employee owned; therefore, our people have a vested interest in making it a success. Our workflow mirrors the markets, causing peaks and troughs, resulting in stress and fatigue. The digital age and our increasing global client base have also impacted on our employee’s psychological wellbeing. Our wellbeing programme was fragmented with one off initiatives. The opportunity was to implement a holistic wellbeing programme using a risk-based approach, involving the business to create the desire to change, especially around mental health which we knew was a high risk.


Strategy

In 2016, we ran workshops to pinpoint key health, safety and wellbeing risks. Stress and fatigue was #1 in multiple regions because of workload, travel, and large client projects. We grouped this as ‘Psychological health’ when we named our critical risks because we wanted to include positive not just negative messaging around mental health. We researched what psychological health programmes were available in the market, identifying the Canadian National Standards for Mental health and safety in the Workplace. This model gave us a framework to start identifying gaps and working towards building better strategies and overarching workplace systems to support a psychological healthy organisation, preventing psychological ill-health. We knew psychological health needed to be embedded into the way we do business rather than a ‘one off’ initiative so we reviewed our policies, programmes, employee benefits, training, and measurements as part of the integrated framework. For training, we partnered with an organisational psychologist. We piloted and subsequently delivered a Workplace Psychological Health programme, starting with our Executive leadership team, Boards and people leaders, then cascading to all employees. The training programme aligned with our values and addressed our strategic objectives as identified in our framework, to provide a healthy and safe workplace, supporting our employees and our business. Concurrently with starting our psychological health programme, we reviewed our holistic wellbeing programme, basing our refreshed strategy on the ‘5 ways to wellbeing’ from the UK. We already had many tools in place, but we needed to structure and market them so that they made sense to the business and had the right focus and common language to engage our people. Our ultimate goal is to actively encourage, support and educate our people to become healthier and happier versions of themselves, resulting in a more engaged and productive workforce, where employees can thrive.


Execution

We engaged with the business to form a wellbeing committee and ran a competition to brand our wellbeing strategy. ‘Be Well Aware’ was formed with three key pillars; ‘Be Healthy’ (physical health), ‘Be Connected’ (social/work health) and ‘Be Mindful’ (psychological health) to cover the full wellbeing spectrum. A Wellbeing Strategy was also developed to underpin our wellbeing programme and a Psychologically Safe Workplace Policy was implemented which recognises the benefit of positive work and forms the overarching framework and statement of commitment. Under our ‘Be Mindful’ pillar, we have a uniquely branded range of initiatives, resources and communications, including webinars and a bi-annual health survey covering all our Be Well Aware pillars, which provides individuals with their own health report, and Beca with a company-wide report helping us to identify key areas to target and improve. The psychological health training programme is now well embedded, with mandatory full day ‘Workplace Psychological Health’ workshop aimed at all people leaders and ‘Helping Others’ and ‘Helping Yourself’ workshops for all employees. The people leader workshops provide critical knowledge and skills on mental health, stress and how to effectively manage and support employee wellbeing. The ‘Helping Others’ workshops are a condensed version of the managers workshops, run internally to teach everyone how to look out for one another which is crucial to ensure everyone is talking the same language. The ‘Helping Yourself’ workshops complements this by imparting knowledge about the fundamentals of looking after your own wellbeing and highlighting the shared responsibility between the individual and company. Additionally, we have a great EAP Programme which is well utilized. Throughout the year we run communications campaigns focusing on psychological health and have enhanced our flexible working policy to ensure employees are able to work in a way that best suits their needs and the business.


Engagement and communication

Our goal has been to embed our psychological health programme, creating a true culture change not seen in other professional service organisations. We have been successful in raising the profile of psychological health through all aspects of our programme creating the same message regardless of business area. Our training workshops (both people leader and all employees) have provided the foundation to get everyone talking the same language and knowing how important it is to know our colleagues, know the signs, know how to have a conversation and the support tools and resources that are in place to support that person to get back to a flourishing state of wellbeing. Nearly 400 managers and 1000 of our employees have been through the training so far. In this year’s communication awareness campaign, we had 8 employees in our business volunteering to share their stories. We created podcasts that were recorded where those employees talked through their experiences, ranging from suicide and depression, to living with a mental health disorder, to stress and burnout. These employees showed courage to share their personal feelings from darker times in their lives but also provided constructive methods for managing those feelings and situations. These podcasts have been viewed over 230 times. Our initiatives are well attended which demonstrates engagement in the programme, our most recent webinar saw over 500 people dialing in. Through a toolkit of communication campaigns, training, webinars, and support material we have raised the psychological health risk profile and started to erode the stigma. We’re equipping our people with knowledge to understand the difference between ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’ through our campaigns and workshops. Creating awareness around the signs and symptoms of poor mental health, and how we can all help manage this is vital to ensuring a psychologically safe workplace.


Impact

This is kept alive through a whole suite of initiatives and activities that have been packaged to form our internal wellbeing programme. We run the different training options throughout the year. New people leaders are automatically assigned the training and those that have previously completed the training are invited to participate in a shorter refresher session to share learnings and cement their knowledge. Employees can opt into the sessions that they feel they need. The impact is noticeable. Our people understand that psychological health is a #1 priority because we have slowly worked on shifting our culture, ensuring what we have implemented sticks and is not replaced by the next topical programme. We have worked hard to embed everything we do into our existing processes so that the programme is weaved into all aspects of the way we work. Our people tell us our approach has had a positive impact on their lives: * People are talking: The topic of mental health is being kept alive through the power of conversation. * Increased incident reports: This indicates increased awareness. Our people feel it’s ok to ask for help resulting in early intervention. * Improved organisational culture: Our people at all levels feel empowered to speak up and share stories, reinforcing the message and encouraging others. * Increased retention: Employees are coming and talking to us rather than leaving. * Engaged leadership: Now trained, our people leaders, Board and ELT are engaged and talk about it frequently in management meetings. * Positive work environment: We have new guidelines and tools to help mitigate risks. * Supported workforce: Employees feel valued which positively affects their wellbeing at work and at home, impacting family and friends. Our clients are now supportive and learn from our culture. * Positive feedback: Feedback tells us that it’s Beca’s most successful and engaging programme ever!


Inclusion

At Beca, we have 30+ different cultures and we needed to be mindful that our programme respected this diversity. Creating the right organisational culture where people can feel they belong is imperative, so everyone needs to benefit from all the programmes and initiatives that we roll out. We knew that our psychological health programme would be accepted across NZ and Australia however our leaders were unsure how it would be received across our Asia and Pacific countries as culturally it can be offensive to talk about mental health. Knowing the success we had had from the programme however, we did not want to exclude these countries so we brought together leaders from each main region to discuss the content of the programme. It was agreed we could roll out amended versions of our leader and employee training programmes, being mindful of topics such as suicide. We already had EAP available however it was not utilised at all across our Asian offices, but this has changed since running the programme. In late 2019 we developed a programme of sharing stories about what it means to Belong at Beca for different people which compliments the work we have been doing to create a psychologically safe and healthy workplace where people can bring their whole selves to work and feel supported. Flexible working has also been enhanced through robust consultation and feedback. The key driver was to enable our people to work in a way that meets their needs as well as the business, building greater inclusion and enabling greater representation of women in our workforce. Providing our people with the awareness of how to switch off and use the third space enabled a seamless transition to working from home with the COVID-19 lockdowns, which across the group have continued.


Innovation and creativity

Our success has been the journey Beca has been on by using a phased approach over several years to slowly shift our culture and build on existing initiatives. Beca shows innovation by being one of the very first professional service employers to implement a psychological health programme that has changed the culture of the organisation. This journey started in 2016 with the identification of a risk to our people and has been built upon year on year, whilst remaining flexible enough so that we can respond to the situation for individual project teams or during the global pandemic. This sets Beca apart from organisations that may have bought ‘off-the-shelf’ mental health first aid training without fully understanding the extent of the issue or how to truly embed a holistic programme. We have implemented a confidential reporting progress which we had to create within our incident management system and have weaved ‘check-in’s’ into our ‘quick review’ process (our weekly 1:1’s) and into our Job Delivery monthly management meetings. This means that we have increased true reporting and an understanding of any issues as they arise. We have needed to have challenging conversations with some clients along the way, if their behaviour does not match with our own cultural expectations. This has shown to our people that we are committed and take their psychological health more seriously than profit for the organisation, ultimately helping with retention and a future for our employee-owned business. More recently we have increased the leave entitlements for our people in NZ to match those in the other countries where we operate with the view that we encourage people to take proactive days off rather than when they are in a state where they are unable to cope.


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Referee details

Don Lyon, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer (Beca)

09 300 2401 • [email protected]


Key contact

Chloe Stewart-Tyson, Group Health, Safety & Wellbeing Manager (Beca)

0272372215 • [email protected]

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