Inzpire is recognised with the Wellbeing Special Award for Large Companies 2022 by Best Companies.
Employee wellness has always been integral to Inzpire’s culture, with a focus on providing individuals with the opportunities they need to balance workload, professional commitments, and personal wellbeing. However, the pandemic has changed how current and future staff view work and we recognise that more so than ever, workplaces can play a positive role in shaping overall wellbeing. Benefits such as flexible working, hybrid working and working from home – which have long been part of the Inzpire employment package - are no longer unique - they are baseline expectations for an evolving workforce. Furthermore, as competition to recruit top quality employees increases, we recognise that attracting and retaining staff will become ever more challenging.
Therefore, while nothing was fundamentally ‘wrong’, we wanted to expand our existing offerings; to continue to attract and retain talented employees; to be forward-leaning in offering supportive environments; and to ensure our people have the skills to look after themselves, their families and their colleagues. We wanted to not only provide a safe and supportive environment, but to be a positive example for other employers.
It was clear to see that improving our wellbeing focus would be a challenge for a business of our size who already provide:
Our long-established benefits package, and commitment to staff wellbeing, had already earned us a place on the Best Companies and Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For lists for the last 8 consecutive years – we would have our work cut out to improve even more!
Eighty percent of our staff are military veterans recruited for their deep expertise. Our offering had to appeal to this cohort as they left military service and also attract them from other businesses. However, our next generation of staff will include increasing numbers of non-ex-military personnel with different demographics and expectations about how their employer will look after them. If Inzpire was to continue its successful trajectory, we would have to diversify our workforce and offer benefits and working practices that are appealing to all demographics.
We therefore took an evolutionary approach, building on our existing successes, while introducing new offerings across multiple strands and levels of the business.
We started at the top, creating a Board-endorsed People Strategy encompassing ‘health, wellbeing and safety’ as one of 8 core pillars within our commitment to our people, our culture and our success. We then published a 5-year Wellbeing Strategy to focus our efforts on 5 core factors: physical health; mental health; personal growth; working environment; and financial wellbeing. This drew on data acquired from many years of annual employee surveys, and research of post-pandemic trends.
To ensure our employees saw almost immediate changes, we considered what policy enhancements could be made quickly, and acted on employee feedback suggesting that improving our maternity and sickness offerings would make us even more attractive to current and prospective employees. Our company maternity pay was therefore uplifted from 2 to 18 weeks of full pay. Company sick pay is now 12 weeks full pay followed by 12 weeks half pay in any 12-month period, reducing financial pressures on our staff.
We appointed a Wellbeing Champion from within our HR team to give us a central focal point for wellbeing initiatives, and the capacity to drive the wellbeing agenda forward. We also wanted to draw on the enthusiasm and energy of our people through ‘in-house’ volunteers, so we created a wellbeing team from across the business to organise and promote wellbeing activities.
The wellbeing team got straight to work and set up a calendar of wellbeing events, each month covering a different theme. In-person and virtual wellbeing activities have been delivered by colleagues within the business during the working day and have included: yoga; reflexology; sports massage techniques; and breathwork for stress. Staff can attend worktime wellbeing sessions without the need to ‘book time off’ or ‘make up the time’.
Employees have run ‘personal experience’ information sessions covering their experiences dealing with anxiety, supporting a partner through cancer, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In an organisation where the majority of staff come from the military - renowned for its tough reputation – the willingness of employees to share their own personal experiences, in a bid to help their colleagues, has been humbling.
Keen to also extend our company culture and benefits to the loved ones of our employees, the wellbeing team also organised a ‘wellbeing weekend’ which was open to employees and their families and involved camping and walking in The Peak District; and for both Easter and Halloween each employee received a chocolate treat box through their letterbox as a way of saying thank you.
The team have also worked hard to create and deliver a ‘World of Wellbeing’ portal on our intranet with regularly updated content covering physical, mental and financial wellbeing as well as dedicated cancer, menopause and bereavement areas. To celebrate World Mental Health Day, each employee received a pocket-book full of puzzles and mental health tips – with many employees now found doing crossword puzzles or Sudoku to take a break from their work!
We’ve also made changes to our physical working environment and have used employee suggestions during the refurbishment of our office in Lincoln to include the provision of showers and a secure cycle shelter to encourage staff to make use of our cycle to work scheme and commute in a healthy manner. The showers also give staff the opportunity to exercise during the working day and freshen-up afterwards.
Inzpire personnel taking part in a company yoga session, led by one of our own employees who has her own yoga business outside of work.
To maximise the impact of our wellbeing initiatives, we wanted everyone to play their part with senior leaders leading by example, ensuring wellbeing is a strategic objective and reiterating its importance through all facets of the Inzpire business. Department heads and line managers are best placed to ensure day-to-day wellness in their teams by spotting early signs of problems and we have empowered them to make decisions according to their own team’s needs. Each department has the authority to organise their own social events to spend time together away from the workplace – one recent example being our business development, marketing and events team who recently all went on an ‘away day’, enjoying some friendly competition participating in escape rooms before going out for a ‘no work talk allowed’ dinner.
Inzpire personnel attend the theatre during a recent social event.
While our wellbeing strategy, which we started to plan in late 2021, was well thought-out and covered almost every area of Inzpire’s workplace culture, there was one thing we (and many others) had not predicted: a cost of living crisis.
In April 2022, we reacted quickly to the increase in living costs and took a number of steps to support our employees financially. We increased wages by 2.5% or £1500, whichever was greater – meaning those on the lowest salaries saw the biggest increases. We also introduced a temporary Cost of Living Allowance (‘COLA’) which provided every employee with an additional £100 per month to help get them and their families through the financial crisis. As a business, we committed to revisiting cost of living measures at the financial mid-year point.
As we reached October of this year it had become painfully clear that the cost of living crisis was not easing. It was a very real issue for us all and would continue for the foreseeable future. We therefore converted the temporary COLA payments into a permanent salary increase for all our staff, ‘locking in’ this benefit in perpetuity. Taking this step means that since the start of April 2022, the increase in pay for every full-time member of staff who was working for us at the start of the financial year has been at least £2,700.
Furthermore, we have committed to becoming a living wage employer accredited through the Living Wage Foundation. Our employees are already earning the Real Living Wage and we have a plan to extend that to our sub-contracted staff as well.
We set out to take tangible steps in the first 12 months – and we have made some fantastic progress. Since January 2022, volunteers from across the business have organised 25 separate wellbeing activities which have been made available to every single employee. Out-of-hours events such as our virtual charity baking night also had great engagement, with staff and their families from all areas of the business participating.
However, we also recognise that meaningful change takes time, and this will be a marathon not a sprint over a full 5 years. We still have a long way to go to embed wellbeing as part of a truly lived culture, where all of us have the knowledge, tools and confidence to look after our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around us, but we are proud of our achievements and our successes so far.
From its earliest days, Inzpire set out to be different to standard businesses in terms of our supportive approach to our people. We look after our employees as best we can, because it is the right thing to do. Throughout the pandemic our priorities were absolutely clear – our people first, our customers second, and everything else after that. This is a principle that continues today.
Inzpire was recognised as the fourth best company to work for in the East Midlands, the UK’s fifth best technology employer and the ninth best overall large company to work for in the country by Best Companies in 2022.
See the moment Inzpire is announced as the winner of the Best Companies Wellbeing Special Award for Large Companies at their ceremony on 3 November, below.
With defence tasked with protecting our national interests in and through space, we explore the ways our Space Division is rising to the challenge.
Our team are here to help. If you have any questions, no matter how big or small, please get in touch.