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Making work-life values matter at Stantec UK

June 17, 2021

How a charter of principles acts as a guide through challenging times for both lead teams and employees

At Stantec we put our people first and during the pandemic our responsibility to support the mental health and wellbeing of our employees has never been more important. To safeguard a culture that empowers everyone to be the best they can be every day, we launched the WorkLife@StantecUK Charter.

A good work-life balance is hard to find, even more so during challenging times. Our employee engagement surveys helped us to understand how our people were managing work and life commitments at a time when the lines were blurred with home working and home schooling becoming the norm for many overnight.

We’re proud of how our Stantec community responded to the challenges of lockdown—providing outstanding client service and supporting their colleagues —all while juggling home commitments in a time of uncertainty.

None of this could be achieved without a common thread creating energy, focus and helping our teams recharge.

We launched the WorkLife@StantecUK charter to help us maintain a flexible, authentic, compassionate, and inclusive culture that will support our people throughout the challenges of a global pandemic and beyond.

What does work-life balance mean to us?

Work-life balance is much more than managing working hours effectively, it is also about behaviour and understanding that needs to be encouraged in leadership, individuals and across working practices. The WorkLife@StantecUK Charter sets out the eight work-life values everyone is encouraged to observe; trust, flexibility, support, kindness, communication, wellbeing, meet smart, and fun.

We’ve always had a strong programme in place to provide support for our workforce, but we’ve had to adapt and evolve this in response to the pandemic. Just as we have created initiatives to help our people, our UK employees have created networks and activities to support each other. We’ve found inspiration and camaraderie in equal measure to anxiety and uncertainty, and we wanted to recognise, endorse, and cement this into our culture for future employees.

The eight values outlined in the WorkLife@StantecUK Charter are designed to encourage employees to build trust-based relationships; be flexible with each other, especially with those who are homeschooling or providing care for others; support each other and check on the wellbeing of colleagues; be kind and aware of each other’s circumstances, communicate appropriately and considerately, ‘meet smart’ and only hold meetings when necessary, look after their own wellbeing, and to find stay positive, find enjoyment in their work and have fun.

Communities are fundamental

The Charter is the latest in a series of initiatives created by the UK Wellbeing team to support employees throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Mental Health Awareness training programmes were launched for line managers, alongside refresher training for the UK network of Mental Health First Aiders and Wellbeing Champions, and resilience sessions for the wider workforce. A dedicated wellbeing microsite was also launched, full of information for employees and parents with support activities designed by employees themselves. Regular check-ins have been encouraged, with weekly support packs created for managers so they have the latest guidance on COVID-19, wellbeing, mental health, and addressing domestic abuse to share with their teams. Socially, employees have arranged a regular UK-wide quiz, Yammer challenges and yoga and meditation sessions to help each other through this challenging time.  

Communities provide a foundation, a sense of place and of belonging. That's why at Stantec, we always design with community in mind – including our own.

How is the charter making a difference?

  • Enabling flexibility. As we move forward our ‘Future ways of working’ programme at Stantec, we want to ensure that we are still putting our people at the heart of decision making, understanding individual circumstances, and working to get the best outcome for our people, our business, and our clients. HR Advisor, Rebecca Gibbons adjusted her full-time working hours to a split day, so that she could incorporate school picks ups and family time into her daily schedule and be back online in the evening when her global colleagues start their day. “This arrangement has worked really well” she enthuses “I’m still working the same hours, but I can give 100% to my family and to my work by utilizing my time more efficiently.”
  • Providing a supportive environment. We’ve formed new networks and ways of keeping in touch remotely that are helping us connect not just professionally but on a personal level too. Danielle Deay, Principal Wastewater Network Modeler explains “We set up a morning coffee shop where our team can pop in virtually and start the day sharing news and ideas with one another and catching up on those ‘water cooler’ moments you miss working from home. Not only has this strengthened collaboration within the team, but it’s strengthened relationships.”
  • Meeting Smart. Research by Harvard Business School analyzed emails and meetings of 3.1 million people in 16 global cities and found that the average workday increased by 8.2 percent—or 48.5 minutes—during the pandemic. Employees also participated in more meetings. This can lead to burn out and ‘zoom fatigue’. The charter encourages our people to consider whether a meeting is really needed, to set clear objectives and agendas and consider shortening from the standard hour to give people time back in their day. Mark Sweeney, Head of Learning & Development commented “It’s a simple trick but our team are encouraged to start online meetings and virtual classes at 5 minutes past the hour and finish 5 minutes earlier to give people a chance to get ready for their next meeting or task. A small change can make a big difference when you have multiple meetings throughout the day”
  • Improving mental and physical health. Initiatives that support employee wellbeing are here to stay including quiet time – an hour in the day where our people are encouraged not to set up meetings, take calls or send emails. Scott Jackson, Regional Director for Water, said: “We know our people are dedicated to getting the best possible results for our clients, but it’s also important that they are getting the best possible results for themselves - whether that be investing in personal development, getting some exercise, or simply taking a break. We’ve heard some great stories about how people are using quiet time across the business from volunteering to dog walking to setting up lunchtime book clubs.”

All our activity to support our people through the pandemic has been underpinned by our guiding principles – putting people first, doing what is right, being better together and driven to achieve. The Worklife@StantecUK is not only helping our people through the pandemic but will strengthen our community for years to come. 

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