Supporting our people’s health and wellbeing

In his first guest blog, Richard Peatfield, Head of Health and wellbeing at Centrica, talks about the importance of having a healthy and thriving workforce and how our new wellbeing strategy will help achieve this.

We recognise a business is only as good as the people it has working for them – that’s why my team and I are working hard to ensure the long-term health and wellbeing of our talented people. In doing so, we can help make Centrica a great place to work by having a happy, healthy and productive workforce, which will strengthen our ability to attract and retain the people we need to deliver value for our customers.

How do we achieve this? Last year, we reinvigorated our approach to health and wellbeing with the launch of a new strategy. This will enable us to deliver an industry- leading health and wellbeing service across the business that promotes healthy lifestyle choices, guided by the core principles outlined below:

  • Innovate – develop a leading wellbeing programme that’s tailored for our different businesses and which engages our people into making healthier lifestyle choices
  • Integrate – deliver a holistic, joined-up approach to wellbeing that can capitalise effective measures throughout the business
  • Increase– drive continuous improvement in productivity by maximising engagement, attendance and wellbeing through a reduction in work-related illness

But what are we actually doing? We’re doing a lot to ensure our people achieve optimal emotional and physical resilience – such as holding awareness sessions, developing toolkits and partnering with expert bodies like Nuffield Health to make sure we embed a strong work-life balance, reduce levels of stress and improve physical health.

And to do all this it’s essential we deliver these activities in a flexible way that effectively meets the different needs of our diverse workforce. For example, a British Gas engineer can have a physical role involving heavy lifting when fitting boilers or insulation, which means they may need different support to an energy trader in Centrica Energy, who works in a fast-paced and sometimes pressurised environment from their desk.

So I wanted to share some of these different wellbeing activities from across the business in 2013:

  • British Gas launched workshops and an online musculoskeletal toolkit to help reduce injury risk. Moreover, they introduced an occupational management advice helpline which contributed to a 60% reduction in occupational health referrals compared with 2012. For its efforts, British Gas also won ‘Best for carers and eldercare’, at the Working Families Awards in recognition of the strong support provided to our carer employees, such as our 700 strong Carers Network, that has helped them better juggle family and work commitments.
  • Centrica Energy delivered wellbeing support as part of ‘Trade Safe’, which aims to improve trader wellbeing by reducing stress-levels. As part of this our traders role-played different workplace scenarios to examine their reactions and learn how to respond more effectively in pressurised situations. Furthermore, over 80% of managers completed stress awareness training to improve their understanding of stress and ensure they can support their colleagues more effectively.
  • Direct Energy focussed on wellness challenges to galvanise healthy living through activities like a 10-week weight loss plan and walking challenges alongside health consultants.
  • Centrica Storage conducted health and wellbeing fairs both onshore and offshore covering issues such as mental health and nutrition; while over 130 employees demonstrated positive behavioural change following a programme of exercise and diet.

Despite strong action to support wellbeing across the Group, employee absence increased slightly to 7.5 (note 1) days per full time equivalent employee compared with 7.0 in 2012. So this year we remain committed to driving down absence by continuing to run targeted activities to ensure we have a healthy and flourishing workforce that will enable us to maintain our business edge, and our success.

If you want to find out more about wellbeing at Centrica, visit Responsibility.


1 Assured by Deloitte LLP for 2013 reporting.

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