Pensions and HR Leadership Coronavirus

Looking after our people

After nearly two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, employee health and wellbeing has become a critical issue for all organisations. CFG's CEO, Caron Bradshaw OBE, explains how CFG is working to look after its people and why CFG will be closing for an extended period in January.


Talk to anyone, across the public, private and charity sector, and I believe you will hear similar stories of concern about the workforce post-pandemic.

Of course, I say ‘post-pandemic’, but the impact of Covid-19 continues and is set to be with us for the foreseeable future, especially now that the Omicron variant is of deepening concern.

The big rethink

Going into the pandemic, staff who had been naturally ready to move on from their roles may have held off switching jobs due to uncertainty.

During the past 18 months, people have refocused on what’s important to them and for many it is a different work-life balance, a different career or maybe less commuting.

For many, the pandemic has really taken its toll – they are tired, worn out and maybe even fed up where they’re working. This has all led to a hot labour market, and plenty of churn and challenge for us as employers.

We know that recruitment is more expensive than retention and we also know that investing in our people and having a healthy, positive culture within our organisations is more likely to deliver cost-effective impact.

It’s also my personal view that ‘we’re a long time dead’ so given how much time we spend working we owe it to ourselves and each other to make that as supportive and enjoyable as possible.

CFG has been focused on culture and wellbeing for some time. We are not perfect, and it requires continual effort. Nevertheless, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the things we’re doing, including what we’re picking up from others.

We’re all getting to grips with this challenge which includes facing increased costs from NI and potential wage inflation. So, how can we strike the balance to attract and retain good people without breaking the bank?

1 Temperature checks

Surveys like the Birdsong workforce survey or ad hoc SurveyMonkey questionnaires help get under the skin of how people are feeling and how engaged they are.

For example, during the crisis response phase of this pandemic, CFG were guilty of not giving enough focus to staff/culture and consequently drew down on our bank of staff goodwill. Through a Birdsong survey we were able to identify how staff were feeling and what we could do better, or more of.

2 Wellbeing days/weeks

We know that time off work aids the maintenance of wellbeing. However, if you have time off and your workplace remains open, you can come back to a mountain of work. How many of us have felt that the holiday is soon forgotten or that you work twice as hard to catch up when you return from leave?

Taking the lead from mental health charities, CFG is introducing a Wellbeing Week in January so that staff can have an extended period off. This is in addition to annual leave entitlement. We will monitor the impact on the team and those we serve. And if all goes well may introduce a second week in summer.

3 Four-day weeks or three-day weekends

Whichever way you want to express it – as a longer weekend or a shorter week – there is an increasing use of this mechanism to aid staff wellbeing and drive-up productivity.

For most, this is a compressed hours approach with staff working full-time hours over fewer days. For others, it is a reduction in hours (with or without a corresponding pay adjustment). Half the team works Monday to Thursday and the other half works Tuesday to Friday.

CFG haven’t adopted this approach, but many charities have. The reports are positive so far.

4 Flexible hours

With the forthcoming right to request flexible working from the first day of employment, we are all going to have to get to grips with this aspect of employment law.

However, offering flexible working, perhaps going one step further (as advocated by Happy Henry) and giving teams the ability to self-organise, coordinating their times to cover the work, can be a way to build in more satisfaction.

5 Flexible locations

Going into the pandemic I confess I had a more fixed view of which roles could be done from home. We now know most jobs can be done from home and this is forcing us to consider how we manage remote workers and support teams who have a blend of home and office-based staff.

Dozens of different workshops are now available which help us to explore what the future of working might look like.

CFG has been part of those conversations and we’ve brought others together so we can hear how our members are approaching this tricky issue. We’ll be sharing what we learn over the coming months.

6 Staff support services

We have long subscribed to a form of employee support helplines and recently refreshed our offer to CFG staff through a subscription to Plumm. It offers a range of online services covering every aspect of life. We’ve been impressed by how accessible and user-friendly it is.

Whether it’s this service or another, such support is a valuable and relatively inexpensive way to support your staff in all aspects of their life and make your workplace a more attractive place to be.


Whatever steps you decide to take, if this pandemic has taught us anything it’s that our staff’s lives do not sit in neat and siloed boxes. We can help our people live rounded and fulfilled lives by ensuring that their place of work honours and supports them as human beings.

As the sector that exists to deliver positive impact and change, if we can’t be the leaders in safety, wellbeing and happiness in the workplace, then who can?


CFG will be closing for the holiday period at 5:30pm on 24 December 2021, returning Monday 10 January 2022, following a five-day Wellbeing Week.

If you would like to contact us during this period, please email CFG and we will pick up your enquiry on our return. If your enquiry cannot wait until 10 January and is urgent, please phone our holiday hotline number: 0845 345 3192 and follow the instructions.

For any urgent media enquiries, please direct message Emma Abbott, Communications Manager, via twitter: @EmmAbbott

We wish you a very restful and peaceful holiday and much health, happiness and success in 2022!


Need expert advice or help? Visit our Helplines page to find out more.

This post was last reviewed on 24 December 2021 at 15:19
« Back to all blog posts