Worker engagement and wellbeing: Marine Surroundings Technique staff

Key ideas from this case study:

  • Discuss the results of the employee survey and take action
  • promote flexible working such as compressed working hours
  • appreciate people at all levels

The 27-strong team for marine environmental strategy in the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Areas (Defra) works on European and domestic issues and is made up of team members from a wide variety of professional fields. The team showed an excellent improvement in their wellbeing scores in the public service personal survey from 2012 to 2014: The number of people who feel satisfied with their lives increased from 53% in 2012 to 65% in 2014, and the number of people with low levels of anxiety rose from 33% to 60% in the same years.

The Cabinet Office interviewed three team members and learned how the simple things they do every day – appreciating and supporting colleagues and their work, stimulating positive change, and setting a good example – can have a positive and tangible impact on employee wellbeing.

Be proactive and take action on the results of the employee survey

Our team is confident that the results will be implemented. After previous low values, a round table was set up with all employees to discuss the results and agree on an action plan. We were encouraged to take responsibility for the action, so we were directly involved in decision-making and positive change.

The action plan is reviewed every three months and is included in an introductory package for newcomers who are encouraged to provide feedback.

Appreciate team members

Feedback from other team members within the marine environmental strategy team has shown that they feel that their work is valued and that their performance is judged by the quality of their work rather than the processes followed. The team’s work is also valued by high-level stakeholders, who hear and appreciate our opinions and advice, even if our points of view are different. Diversity and equality are promoted throughout the team.

Good visibility and communication are important

There are visible role models in the team across all grades and a very clear understanding of responsibility. The roles of everyone on the team have been well thought out and defined so that each member can understand how their work contributes to the overall team goals.

Managers also cultivate a sense of trust and honesty by sharing information about what is happening and truthfully reporting on the state of affairs. This helps to ensure that every employee feels part of the team.

Promote flexible working

Flexible working is encouraged within the team and enables team members to adapt their working style to their personal circumstances, for example by working from home or compressed working hours (e.g. the same number of hours that you work five days in four days).

Taking well-being into account has advantages for the company

Despite a high workload, the team members support each other a lot, which reduces anxiety and leads to a high level of well-being. For example, team leaders try to reduce the pressure as much as possible by encouraging employees to push back unnecessary processes. Ultimately, this leads to greater efficiency.

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