PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) has increased its focus on building a supportive culture in order to help employees generally in day-to-day life, but also in the event of a critical incident.
Over the past year, the global professional services firm launched a new set of values, one of which is care. Laura Hinton, head of people, says: “It is quite different; it stands out from the crowd in really encouraging everybody to get to know their colleagues at a human level, what’s important to them and to care about their development. It’s not about avoiding difficult messages but it is around thinking about the person behind the role and not just the job title.”
The value is part of a general backdrop of creating an environment of care, which helps if there are critical incidents or issues, says Hinton. Although PWC employees were not directly impacted, the recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester were in close proximity to three of its offices, and employees were in the areas at the time of the incidents. The employer used an all-employee smartphone app to track employees and make sure they were all accounted for and safe. Additionally, PWC has around 46 employees living in the vicinity of Grenfell Tower so in the hours following the fire, it was able to get in touch with each of them to make sure they were safe.
The organisation specifically acknowledged each incident with communication to employees to let them know that although it is a tragic event or a difficult time, the employer can direct them to support if they need it and cares about their wellbeing. PWC has an employee assistance programme (EAP), provided by Bupa, as well as also mental health advocates, a network of employees throughout the organisation who are trained in mental health support.
“It’s also [for] when somebody is feeling overwhelmed, unsettled, unhappy, struggling with mental health challenges generally,” says Hinton. “It’s encouraging them to talk using the mental health advocates or networks, using helplines.”