The Challenge:

The wellbeing team were among 380 people who TUPE transferred to Kier when the previous contract ended and the current interim contract began in April 2020. The mobilisation period coincided with the start of the first national COVID-19 lockdown. Many people on the contract, including recent TUPE transferees were working from home and potentially feeling isolated and disconnected.

Supported by both the BISC senior leadership team and our Group HR team in line with our belief in adopting best practice from across the highways industry, the team were mandated to continue the wellness sessions from the previous contract as part of leading wellbeing communications for the BISC.

They worked to enhance understanding and remove the stigma that still exists around mental health by organising local initiatives, events and activities to improve wellbeing and encourage health-related conversations, as well as promoting national mental health-related campaigns.

The Solution:

Over the next 12 months, this evolved into structured programme of presentations and discussions on relevant topics, known as Wellness Online Wednesdays (WOW). Capitalising on links from the previous contract, WOW began hosting speakers from our wellbeing partner Birmingham Mind in the summer 2021.

Topics for discussion included issues that Birmingham Mind regularly deal with that are relevant to our workforce as well as tying in with annual awareness-raising initiatives such as Movember. Sessions were designed to develop greater self-awareness in attendees, with a greater understanding of the issues relating to mental illness and how they impact on our physical health.

In addition, as well as giving attendees the chance to interact with colleagues and share their stories, Birmingham Mind also recognised the WOW sessions as a valuable opportunity to signpost appropriate agencies and services to attendees in need of guidance.


The Impact:

The team first opened up the online meetings to other Kier contracts in November 2020 and then the supply chain in June 2021. By September 2021’s Suicide Awareness session, almost half the attendees were from supply chain partners or Kier Highways contracts outside of Birmingham.

Given the need to maintain confidentiality, WOW sessions – which run on Microsoft Teams - are not routinely recorded but sessions can be accessed on screens in welfare vans and mess rooms. Where sessions are not recorded, transcripts of the associated Teams chats – with links to information and resources - are accessible on the BISC wellbeing Sharepoint site.

In September 2021, for example, 46 people dialled into the Suicide Awareness session at the time but almost four times that number (178 people) accessed the chat afterwards. Most notably, the World Mental Health Day session in October 2021 had 40 ‘live’ attendees but 274 people have accessed the chat since.

" We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to support Kier because we greatly admire the dedication and genuine care for staff and colleagues by the WOW team. We enjoy working with these dedicated people who are as passionate as we are about offering information, signposting and support to their colleagues. "
Owen Harris Community Development Worker Birmingham Mind

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