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 successful. 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. We recognised a gap in our people leader’s knowledge and skillset in understanding how to support their team’s wellbeing. Whilst recognizing we couldn’t completely remove the stress, we wanted to reduce the impact it had on our people so they could thrive.


Strategy

Our business has a risk-based approach to work, so we used this to identify key health, safety and wellbeing risks. In 2016, we ran workshops across our group, which resulted in stress and fatigue being one of our top risks. The workshops generated the awareness and desire for change. We researched what psychological health programmes were available in the market at the time, identifying the Canadian National Standards for Mental health and safety in the Workplace. Using this framework we mapped the culture change needed to build better strategies and overarching workplace systems to support a psychological healthy organisation, preventing psychological ill-health. As a large organisation, we knew we needed to engage with a specific target audience rather than launching a programme for all employees. We sourced an organisational psychologist to partner with and started to increase knowledge of our people leaders and take them on a journey to get their buy in, before cascading further through the business. We developed a training programme comprising a full day workshop, designed to develop the personal capabilities of our people leaders to identify psychological health concerns, intervene early, and understand how to support individuals with psychological health concerns. The design included subsequent half day refresher sessions to support the learning and help make the learning stick. We piloted a training workshop with our HSE & HR teams to determine whether it aligned with our values and addressed our strategic objectives. This equipped these teams, who have a crucial role in supporting the business to provide a healthy and safe workplace, with the information/skills needed. The programme was well received so we started to design the employee and Executive Leadership Team and Board versions. Concurrently, tools including policies, guidelines, and forums to share experiences have all been developed to keep the programme alive.


Execution

In the lead up to launching our people leader training programme, we had run communications campaigns about our top HSEW risks, highlighting that psychological health was one of the most critical. Our first people leader Workplace Psychological Health’ workshop delivered by our partner Organisational Psychologist, was well anticipated and the excitement and desire from our people leaders was growing. The workshop is fully interactive, working through real life scenarios and using role play to put learnings into practice. It covers the mental health continuum; early intervention essentials; and provides critical knowledge and skills on how to have an effective and supportive conversation. It also works through the need to balance supporting an employee with diminished mental health through to managing performance. We continue to provide this training on an annual basis for all new people leaders. Refresher sessions are also provided for those who have previously completed it, which allows them a facilitated safe space to share their experiences, successes, and challenges, and to cement their knowledge from the previous training. Once the People leader training was successfully launched, we then began to roll out in-house ‘Helping Others’ and ‘Helping Yourself’, condensed workshops for all levels of the business to engage them in this programme. We continue to adapt and expand our programme. Alongside and supporting the psychological health workshops, our people leaders have also been participating in a Leadership Essentials programme, focusing on amplifying others. We recognised the need to develop bench strength in core leadership skills and saw coaching and feedback as levers for behaviour and culture change. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, we were quickly able to amend the programme and respond with online sessions covering leading in uncertain times for our leaders and topics such as anxiety, loneliness and how to balance parenting whilst working from home!


Engagement and communication

This initiative has provided the foundation to get everyone talking the same language. Understanding the importance of knowing each other well enough to recognize a change in behaviour, and how to reach out and have a conversation with supporting tools and resources, means we are able to help our people flourish. Our goal has been to make this programme stick and so it has been weaved into our holistic wellbeing programme as part of a package on psychological health initiatives, all complementing one another. 400 people leaders and 1000 employees from across our group have attended and participated in these interactive workshops and the feedback has been extremely positive. The discussions generated in the training room and afterwards have been fundamental in raising awareness and starting to break down the stigma associated with mental health. Our leaders now feel empowered and well equipped to have appropriate conversations and provide support, but deeper than that, they fully support and encourage their employees to put their hand up and ask for help if they are not okay. This has seen a significant shift in our organisational culture where previously our people just kept going until burning out. Our leaders and employees have a much greater understanding of their individual stress curves and what optimal stress looks like for different team members. This helps our people leaders to be better leaders but also helps the whole team perform at their best. Through ongoing communications campaigns, we continue to keep psychological health at the forefront of people’s minds. Some people leaders have spoken up about their own mental health challenges and experiences, contributing to a workplace culture where people feel it is ok to talk about mental health. This has been extremely well received and encouraged other more junior staff to do so too.


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 of the programmes and initiatives that we roll out. We knew that our people leader training 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 training 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 an amended version removing topics such as suicide. However, as the programme has grown, and the organisational culture has changed across the group, we are now able to run the same programme everywhere and feel that we have made a significant difference especially in our Asian offices. In late 2020 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.


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 Ltd)

+64 9 3002 401 • [email protected]


Key contact

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

+64 27 237 2215 • [email protected]

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