“Our learning led to a new national stress policy and changes to the alcohol and substance misuse policies. Most importantly we learned to better evaluate our campaigns, just how effective were they?”
HM Land Registry (HMLR) is a non-ministerial department as well as a partner body of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and was set up in 1862. HMLR safeguards land and property ownership valued at £7 trillion, enabling over £1 trillion worth of personal and commercial lending to be secured against property across England and Wales. The Land Register contains more than 26 million titles showing evidence of ownership for more than 87% of the land mass of England and Wales. Anyone buying or selling land or property, or taking out a mortgage, must apply to us to register.
Currently HMLR employs approximately 6393 people in 14 locations, with 650 employed by the Swansea business unit with staff based in the office and remotely.
A key part of the organisation’s Business Strategy, our People Strategy includes an Attendance, Health & Wellbeing Framework to ensure that HMLR is a great place to work. The linked delivery plan encompasses all areas including a requirement that each business unit has a Health and Wellbeing Committee. This formalises the structure in place locally since 2002 when Swansea first set up a Health Promotion Committee to support the local Senior Leadership Team to undertake health promotion initiatives and ensure all policies, national and local, encompass a holistic approach to supporting staff to be fit, well and in work.
Our workforce has until very recently been an ageing one, bringing challenges in supporting staff both through short term and long term sickness absence in a managed and supportive way.
Our journey to improving sickness absence began in 2008 with a staff health and wellbeing strategy. Then the average number of days off sick each year was 16 per person. Actions included:
In 2011, our successful assessment for a Healthy Working Wales Award gave us the recognition and impetus to continue with this journey. We fed into establishment of a national HMLR Health & Wellbeing Attendance and Strategy Group, sharing our best practice for the terms of reference and a national calendar of events. Our learning led to a new national stress policy and changes to the alcohol and substance misuse policies. Most importantly we learned to better evaluate our campaigns, just how effective were they?
Our focus on sickness absence has continued with the aim of supporting our ageing workforce through collaborating with the British Health Foundation (we won a Healthy Hearts Award), Macmillan, Cruse, the Wellbeing through Work in-work support service and Time to Change to name but a few. Encouraging participation in physical activity has always been key, with onsite exercise classes and a gym plus regular physical challenges to engage our workforce.
In 2013, we achieved the Healthy Working Wales Gold Award by which time we had halved our sickness absence rate. The main challenge continues to be reducing long term sickness absence. Change came when, after a 10 year pause, recruitment of new staff restarted altering our people demographic and providing ‘new blood’ with different interests. This coincided with the launch of a new national Business Strategy and People strategy which re-invigorated the Health and Wellbeing committee with fresh committee members! The 2019 assessment for our Healthy Working Wales Award gave us the opportunity to work again with Pubic Health Wales and align ourselves with current best practice on smoking and vending machines.
Throughout our journey the most significant impact has been on mental health and wellbeing. Using the advice and support of Healthy Working Wales, the Swansea office has pushed for change at a national level including the establishment of a stress policy and influencing the national People Strategy, advocating for the introduction of Mental Health First Aiders and better training for both staff and line managers. This is supported by regular line manager forums and overarching support from our Senior Leadership Team.
The pandemic has brought new challenges especially in the area of the mental wellbeing of staff and our message from the start has been the importance of looking after the wellbeing of all staff. This commitment runs through the whole organisation and all we do. Key to it all is good communication and our weekly staff bulletin continues to provide vital advice and support to help staff to stay fit, well and in work, but most of all safe. As the Healthy Working Wales Award assessors said to us, ‘we get it’.