“As a utility company with a wealth of moving parts, people and processes, we take our employees health, safety and wellbeing very seriously. With over 5,000 direct employees and over 10,000 alliance partner employees across a geographical region of 27,500m2, we believe everyone’s working lives should be a positive experience,”
as Anglian Water’s David Hartley explains.

In order to bring about a positive change to the lives of our hard-working, dedicated and water-loving employees, LIFE was born.

LIFE is our holistic approach to health, safety and wellbeing with the aim of ensuring our people are in an environment which delivers on all levels, making sure they are happier, healthier and as safe as possible whilst at work.

In April 2018, following on from the successful rollout to our partners, a central team was set up within the company’s Health and Safety team, tasked with delivering the programme across the whole of Anglian Water, and helping to bring LIFE to life!

The first step for the business was to be really clear on what LIFE is. We were already really good at communicating health and safety messages to our staff. However, LIFE is different. It’s all about behaviour change, and is based on a number of key principles:

  • Creating a culture of care and concern
  • Looking out for one another
  • Building strong relationships by having good quality conversations
  • Making the right choices
  • It’s not just a work thing!

It seeks to build stronger, and more meaningful, relationships within teams. We want LIFE to empower leadership, making everybody more aware of their colleagues and the environment they work in to ensure that we can make Anglian Water a happier, healthier and safer place to work. It’s a move that we feel is the right one for our business and, more importantly, the right one for our staff.

Roadmap to success

The challenge for the team was how to differentiate this programme from health and safety compliance, particularly with employees who have been with the company a long time and are used to working in different ways.

The team created a clear ‘roadmap’ of activities that gave structure and meant that everyone across the company could participate and easily relate to the principles.

Five LIFE introduction days were held to identify volunteers from across the business to become LIFE orientation leaders. The leaders would be expected to facilitate a series of four-hour LIFE orientation sessions which were open to all employees. These introduction sessions were endorsed by Directors who participated in every session, with Chief Executive Officer Peter Simpson taking a lead role.

The central team trained the orientation leaders on the principles of behavioural safety to enable them to facilitate the next stage of the rollout – the orientation sessions. LIFE orientation sessions are the main events, introducing staff to new ways of thinking about health, safety and wellbeing.

Further to that, training has contributed to personal development, providing orientation leaders with skills in the art of facilitation, listening, and questioning. All orientation leaders have also attended a one-day mental health awareness course to enable them to recognise the signs of mental health issues and signpost anyone in the business who may need help so they receive the right support.

We felt it was important to have LIFE orientation leaders throughout all walks of the business to give staff a chance to integrate, communicate and implement the values and principles of LIFE. Leaders can help to spread the message that LIFE carries and bring the challenging ways of thinking into the business a lot quicker.

Large scale rollout

With such a large workforce, it’s a challenge to put almost 4,500 members of staff through training. However, to date, we have already delivered orientation sessions to approximately 1,265 employees within the business. A staggering number considering the initial rollout began in April 2018, with the complete rollout to be completed over the next two years.

After orientation sessions, the next phase involves localised activities to ensure that behavioural change starts to embed across teams. The central team are there to provide support to all the orientation leaders and drive forward the development of LIFE by keeping it alive and making it business as usual.

Alongside the orientations, the team is developing quarterly LIFE conversations. These provide managers with key information to allow them to have the right safety and behavioural conversations, as well as reinforcing wellbeing within their teams.

The essence of LIFE is that the discussions are applicable to home life as well as work. Using the ‘nudge’ theory – a relatively subtle policy shift that encourages people to make decisions that are in their broad self-interest – helps to get key messages to resonate with staff.

To help embed LIFE, the central team have visisted local sites to assist managers on how to deliver a LIFE conversation. Howerver, the work cannot stop there, with the team continuing to train the remaining managers across the business.

By working closely with the Health, Safety and Wellbeing teams they ensure that LIFE is aligned to all business plans to show a cohesive approach to the overall wellbeing of employees.

We believe that feedback is essential to success. The team are provided with regular updates so that delivery of the programme can be improved, and the results continue to be positive.

Emily Hansford, LIFE Administrator, said, “Feedback from our staff is vital to ensure we continue to build, develop and improve our LIFE programme and the orientation sessions that are run. We’ve already received a wealth of positive feedback from some of our members of staff and it’s great to see the programme receive such a good reaction”.

Emily added, “We’ve already landed it with different business units across the company and people are already willing to learn and develop a deeper understanding of the programme in order to fully embed it within their teams. This is exactly what we want to see from our staff and ultimately, it’ll make a lasting impression on the lives of everyone”.

It’s more than LIFE

LIFE is the internal brand that is fast becoming the pillar of our health, safety and wellbeing strategy, with its own dedicated team within the Health and Safety department working tirelessly to spread the vision and principle across the business.

Its rollout and success will continue over the next two years but that won’t stop us from improving the lives and wellbeing of our staff in other ways.

As a company, we’re continually striving to provide the best support, care and service to our employees so they can lead a healthier, happier and safer life. A commitment which has been proven successful as we were recently voted Glassdoor’s ‘Best Place to Work in the UK’ for 2019, a prestigious honour that highlights our commitment, and which is made even more rewarding by the fact that it is based on reviews left by former and current members of staff.

Not only are we providing an excellent service to our staff, but they are actually feeling the benefit of it and making it known too. Staff can access a plethora of benefits from private healthcare and gym memberships, to mental health treatments and a virtual GP.

Our excellent staff reward system – Going the Extra Mile (GEM) – also won us the Employee Benefit Award for ‘Most Motivational Benefits’ last year, showcasing how our benefit and reward strategies have made a positive impact on staff. This was further supported by our success of winning Best Healthcare and Wellbeing Strategy of the Year in 2018, judged on by our improvements in sickness absence rates, mental and physical health as well as financial wellbeing.

Health, safety and wellbeing are always firmly on the agenda at Anglian Water and we’re excited to see how far and wide LIFE can improve the lives of our employees across the business. It’s a strong message to supplement and support the wealth of wellbeing initiatives we are already running and we’re hopeful it will make a real impact.

Our amazing, hard-working and dedicated staff are the bedrock of our business. We want to ensure they all lead happier, healthier and safer lives, and with LIFE, we can do just that.