The global company has worked hard to ensure new people are given the right support to settle in, as well as reaching established staff
As one of the most innovative architecture and integrated design practices in the world, Foster + Partners has pioneered a sustainable approach to architecture through a strikingly wide range of work, with offices and buildings worldwide.
As a result, the company attracts and retains some of the best talent globally, welcoming large numbers of staff who join its London headquarters from overseas.
“As a project-based business, staff become heavily involved in and passionate about the work that they do. It can be all too easy to forget about putting themselves first and to prioritise their own personal and financial matters,” says Charlotte Sword, global HR director.
“These new joiners often need assistance in financial areas such as property rental, mortgages and general planning, and we strongly believe we have a duty to guide and support them.”
When she joined the practice three and a half years ago, she and her team began work on a number of people initiatives. They set out to identify and support wellbeing issues across the business, including physical, mental, social and financial aspects. “We wanted to bring all of the areas together holistically, and to make them accessible for our staff,” she explains. “We set out to build a solution that would ultimately make their lives better, where they could make decisions easily and also save time.”
In order to help manage and support stress levels among staff, the company offers regular health monitoring, reflexology, massage, yoga and tennis. And the business now has a separate working group that comes up with new wellbeing recommendations, while there has been a huge increase in communications with the HR department.
In 2016, Foster + Partners, working with Secondsight, implemented the Mybenefitsatwork portal. It is designed to be an interactive tool, enabling Sword and her team to communicate the benefits on offer in a friendly, accessible way, using everyday language. Today, 10 months on, more than 60% of the workforce use the portal.
“Penetration numbers are high and increasing because staff find the tool intuitive, using language they truly understand,” says Sword. “They can watch engaging videos explaining pensions and other complex financial topics in a clear and simplified way. And the portal is mobile friendly, which suits our workforce, who can access information on any device at a time that suits them.
“The design, look and feel have all been adapted, the content is regularly changed to keep it fresh, and we feel it is really helping to increase engagement levels with staff.”