Why supporting wellbeing in the workplace is a 'no brainer'

Carman's Kitchen CPO Lainie Tayler to speak at the upcoming National HR Summit

Why supporting wellbeing in the workplace is a 'no brainer'

Lainie Tayler, chief people officer at Carman’s Kitchen considers wellbeing in the workplace to be a “non-negotiable.”

“It's crucial,” she told HRD Australia. “It's probably been expedited through COVID. But I think it's a no brainer around productivity of your people, caring, belonging, connection.”

Tayler highlighted that a focus on wellbeing can help reduce absenteeism and attract and retain good talent.

“But mainly I feel for people to be their whole person and bring their whole self to work, that it's negligent nearly not to think about how you can support them with their wellbeing as well,” she said.

The evolution of wellbeing

Tayler will be one of the speakers at the National HR Summit on 20-21 March 2024. She will be on the panel discussing effective wellbeing strategies to build resilient teams, alongside fellow panellists Leyla Parbery, head of benefits and wellbeing APAC at Datadog and Anna Stavropoulos, general manager, people advisory, talent & learning at Allianz.

Having worked at Carman’s Kitchen for seven years, Tayler has seen the focus on wellbeing evolve from being tactical and reactive, to more holistic and proactive. She said there has been an increased awareness and openness around different aspects of wellbeing and wellness in the workplace, including self-care and mental health.

Another factor that has played a significant role in enabling and enhancing wellbeing practices more recently is technology, Tayler said.

“That should – and does – allow businesses to be more proactive and holistic in what they're potentially providing their employees,” she said.

Wellbeing initiatives at Carman’s Kitchen

During the induction period for new employees, Carman’s Kitchen embeds the idea that “this is an organisation that you can bring your whole self to,” Tayler said.

And there are several wellbeing initiatives the business has for its employees including a healthy food pantry where they can get breakfast and snacks.

It also offers subsidised lunches prepared by an in-house chef, a full-service gym, personal trainer, a sleep pod and even a service that supports employees when they’re moving house.

In terms of leave policies, Carman’s Kitchen provides doona days and a half-day off every quarter.

“If someone just feels like they need a mental health day or they just want to stay home for the day and need a bit of a brain break, we just call it a doona day,” she said. “That doesn't come with any stigmatism of negativity, it's a positive thing. And we celebrate people taking that break for themselves.”

In addition, the company gifts employees with time off during the Christmas break.

“Between Christmas and New Year’s, we gift those annual leave days so that people can take a nice decent break,” Tayler said. “And we really encourage everyone to take that two weeks off.”

The benefits of wellbeing

Carman’s Kitchen currently has a 94% engagement rate and has been in the 90s for the last four years, Tayler said. It even once reached as high as 96%.

“We actually have a goal to get to 100,” she said.

Tayler added that the company also has low absenteeism and turnover.

“We have really low absenteeism, I think it's 1%, maybe less,” she said. “And I think that's because people can access and have the time off they need in a way that we can manage, and it’s proactive and they feel comfortable.”

Carman’s Kitchen wants to be a place where employee enjoy coming to, Tayler said.

“For us, coming to work should be something that people love and enjoy,” she said. “We're trying to create a very special place for people and their families. We have a family day every year [and] we provide casual work for people's kids.

Wellbeing and HR

For HR teams looking to improve wellbeing in the workplace, Tayler suggested being genuine and authentic about why you’re doing it.

“It's also important to know what suits your culture and what people want and need,” she said. “I think a lot of things that we've put in place is [because of] lots of feedback.

“Moving people's homes is such a funny little thing to offer people. But if you look at those stress points and the things that are really hard for people, helping support them through that just goes a long way in recognising how important your people are.” a

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