In an article taken from our 2023 Austin Friar yearbook, corporate liveryman Emma Welch, group HR director at Ocee International, talks about their wellbeing initiatives and why they support the Furniture Makers
At Ocee, promoting and supporting employee wellbeing is at the heart of our ‘Passion for People’ value which champions better working lives and is central to our success in attracting, developing and maintaining a highly motivated and diverse workforce. We have various initiatives in place to support the welfare of our employees, ranging from providing fresh fruit and beverages, a cycle to work scheme, organising social activities, workplace flexibility and breakout areas, training mental health first aiders, conducting employee engagement surveys, recognition through our monthly star awards and continually supporting people with their development. One of the key HR priorities since I joined the business has been to continually broaden our wellbeing programme to focus on mental, physical and financial wellbeing.
It was then in 2020, when the pandemic started affecting people’s working patterns, that I saw just how invaluable the charity’s financial grants were. The Furniture Makers supported many of our employees during that time. Since then, I have been supporting the charity to communicate the welfare grants by volunteering as a welfare ambassador for the Company’s East of England region. I am focussed on identifying and generating local welfare grant applications within the region and raising awareness.
I also attended the charity’s Welfare Matters conference in September 2022 – a special event for HR professionals in the industry to come together to learn more about the grants and the launch of the new crisis text service. Off the back of this event, I believe that the HR community can meet on a frequent basis to enhance the work that the charity does to support the welfare of people.
I am very passionate about the work that the charity does, partly because I have seen the difference that it makes. In 2022, everyone at Ocee had to come to terms with the devastating news that our much-loved colleague, Tim Bloyce, had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). We wanted to do as much as we could to support Tim and his family and worked closely with The Furniture Makers’ Company to get significant financial support to purchase a much-needed, life-changing, specially adapted wheelchair for him. However, we also wanted to show Tim how much we all thought of him, and we decided to do so by highlighting one of Tim’s great passions, football. For a decade prior to our involvement, The Furniture Makers’ Company had organised an annual five-a-side football tournament which we were delighted to sponsor and rename the ‘Tim Bloyce Cup’ in his honour. It was a fantastic day, and having Tim at the event made it very special.
We are excited to continue our partnership with The Furniture Makers’ Company to help drive the increase in the level of amazing support provided, increasing the number of grant applications per year, using the regional ambassadors to promote the good work and to create specific welfare initiatives giving financial guidance and support for people within the industry. I personally aim to ensure our focus on wellbeing has an impact on trust, happiness, engagement and increased morale in the workplace.