Within our close circles, Boulevard has a reputation for being a great place to work. It’s a bit of a brag when you write it down and post it on your website (sorry) but we think it’s a statement our team would agree with. We are often asked by friends, within other organisations, for advice on how to implement a well-being policy and our directors regularly appear on event panels to discuss the topic. The truth is, we don’t really have a well-being policy, not one that’s written down anyway. We are working on one as part of the company handbook, something that our new employees can read to get an initial insight into our culture, but nothing formal.
However, we don’t think having a ‘well-being policy’ is the secret to supporting the mental health and well-being of your team. Writing out your cultural framework and putting it on the website or in the company handbook, or in a welcome email is a great thing to do, but it loses momentum pretty quickly if it’s not backed up by the more important stuff. How many employees read a company handbook from cover to cover? How many refer to it on a regular basis? This stuff needs to be reinforced constantly.
A well-being policy contributes to the formation of a good well-being culture, but it’s not the thing that fosters lasting well-being within a team. The culture of the company itself is what matters and the thing that affects this the most is the physical behaviour of the human beings running the organisation. That doesn’t mean we need to solve everyone’s problems or attain a degree in psychiatry, but we do need to take an interest in the people who work for us. Organisations like EventWell are offering mental health first aid courses now too, which can’t be a bad thing to have, particularly in identifying when someone needs support. However, all we can really do as leaders is create a supportive environment, one where our teams feel like they can ask for help if they need to, without worrying about the reaction they’ll get.
How do we achieve that? By actually caring about them! Listen to questions, action their requests even if you can’t give them what they’ve asked for, make your team feel heard, ask how they are more than once a month, bring your own smile to work and wear it, remember birthdays, give high fives, receive high fives! There are so many things we can be doing, that writing a list and putting it in a well-being policy, is an endless task. The fundamental truth is, when you care about people, your behaviour follows suit and consistently supportive behaviour is the key to creating the type of environment that facilitates positive well-being.
Of course, we do some practical things too; we cater staff lunch, we write guidelines for the chefs so that there are nutritious options every day, when we make tea we make it for everyone (mostly), we organise regular team gatherings. These things all contribute, but the practical touches will vary from company to company and if they aren’t backed up by consistent empathy, care and compassion from the leaders of the business, on a daily basis, the practical things won’t matter much.
Catering is a stressful industry, cooking food in London is as competitive as it gets, which means it comes with high pressure and a host of challenges! It’s not all sunshine and rainbows every day here at Boulevard, but at the end of each day we know our staff feel like part of the family, and that’s what makes the difference.