Summertown Interiors

CSR Employee Engagement of the Year 2014
Construction/Fit-Out
Dubai

Challenges:

Our challenge was to broaden the scope of sustainability goals to go beyond the reduction of our environmental impact and focus on our workplace and community. We had been working towards a long-term sustainability goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2020 for several years and had achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for our office. The next step was…

Our challenge was to broaden the scope of sustainability goals to go beyond the reduction of our environmental impact and focus on our workplace and community. We had been working towards a long-term sustainability goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2020 for several years and had achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for our office. The next step was to incorporate wellness as part of our CSR plan and embed social focused goals into our sustainability business strategy.

In 2011, we joined to The Dubai Chamber of Commerce CSR Label Program following their CSR Label framework to integrate CSR into our business under the four pillars Workplace, Marketplace, Community and Environment. This four pillar framework formed a base for our sustainability strategy and has encouraged us to improve ourselves each year.

In 2013, we decided to create an ‘Employee Wellbeing Program’ as part of our existing Loyalty Program to increase the engagement, retention, promote a healthy lifestyle and happiness in the company.

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Brief:

Prior to launching our new ‘Employee Wellbeing Program’ in 2013 we already had in place many HR and ‘Green’ CSR goals which included: Defined roles, responsibilities and yearly objectives Clear growth programWorkplace diversity Provide equal opportunities Nurturing a culture of teamwork Flexible working hours to allow a better work/life balance Pre-qualification process for Suppliers First fit-out contractor in the UAE…

Prior to launching our new ‘Employee Wellbeing Program’ in 2013 we already had in place many HR and ‘Green’ CSR goals which included:

  • Defined roles, responsibilities and yearly objectives

  • Clear growth programWorkplace diversity

  • Provide equal opportunities

  • Nurturing a culture of teamwork

  • Flexible working hours to allow a better work/life balance

  • Pre-qualification process for Suppliers
    First fit-out contractor in the UAE to occupy LEED Gold certified interiors (the most widely used green building rating system in the world)

  • Monitor and improve the air quality

  • Maximize the amount of natural light accessible to our employees

  • Promote recycling of materials


New initiatives launched in 2013:

  • Volunteering Scheme - 2 days paid leave every financial year to participate in voluntary activities during working hours

  • Volunteering Activities - Annual participation in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon and company matching funds for the participation fee, Mawaheb (an art studio in Dubai for young adults with special needs)

  • Summertown Wellbeing Program – which include:

  • monthly newsletter on various health and wellness topics to increase awareness on the importance of healthy habits and living, as well as expert sessions to guide and engage employees in activities related to these topics. The topics include breathing, exercise, diet and healthy eating initiatives, diabetes, cholesterol, stress.

  • Free health check-ups, yoga, Feng Shui workshops and office ergonomics education are also part of the program

  • We aimed to introduce one initiative every month under our Wellbeing Program for the first year

  • ‘No car day’ - every quarter to increase awareness about reducing our carbon footprint

  • Healthy workplace program – installation of hand sanitizers and wipes. We also use eco-friendly cleaning products in the office to reduce the use of toxic chemicals

  • In-kind donation: Emirates Wildlife Society - assist with their office expansion, and offer advice on how to be greener

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Process:

We assigned departments head to different CSR pillars to achieve broader business and societal objectives. The planned initiatives were identified as objectives of the Department Heads or related employees. Developing employee Wellness Program was identified one of the objectives of the HR Manager in order to make sure that it will happen. Initiatives selected by the HR Manager according to…


  • We assigned departments head to different CSR pillars to achieve broader business and societal objectives.

  • The planned initiatives were identified as objectives of the Department Heads or related employees. Developing employee Wellness Program was identified one of the objectives of the HR Manager in order to make sure that it will happen.

  • Initiatives selected by the HR Manager according to subjects which we thought that our employees will show an interest.

  • Our initial aim was to launch initiatives under the ‘Employee Wellbeing Program’ for no cost/minimal cost; we invited consultants from our own network in addition to selecting initiatives which has no cost such as sending monthly newsletters, Yoga Fest, launching volunteering scheme etc.

  • Every month, HR announced the new initiative through e-mails/flyers etc, and she spent personal time with senior team and employees to encourage them to participate. She specifically asked help from the Managers for participation to lead by example.

  • Employee attendance and feedback was documented and included in our Dubai Chamber CSR Label submission which was externally audited annually.

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Obstacles:

The two largest obstacles we encountered were cost and time. 1) Cost As an SME we had (and still have today) a very minimal budget for our Wellbeing Program. To overcome this obstacle, we chose initiatives that had no or minimal cost. Once we had explained our new program and the goal to embed CSR into our business most third…

The two largest obstacles we encountered were cost and time.
1) Cost
As an SME we had (and still have today) a very minimal budget for our Wellbeing Program. To overcome this obstacle, we chose initiatives that had no or minimal cost. Once we had explained our new program and the goal to embed CSR into our business most third parties, we approached were willing to help us with a reduced cost or free sessions as part of their own CSR strategy.

2) Time
Our main time obstacles were around people and their schedules.Firstly, we needed people to develop, champion and communicate the new monthly initiatives that were relevant to our team and goals. The HR Manager took on the majority of the initiative development process, whilst leadership communicated and engaged. In our experience if there is not one dedicated person either in HR or in a CSR related position it would be difficult to develop impactful CSR employee engagement.Secondly, convincing people find time in their daily schedules to attend.

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Impact:

The impact was great. Our employee response was very positive from the beginning, with many employees stating this was the first time they had volunteered or participated in wellbeing initiatives. Our initial plan was to conduct one new initiative every month. As the program progressed our employees got curious and excited about the next monthly initiative; because the monthly plan…

The impact was great. Our employee response was very positive from the beginning, with many employees stating this was the first time they had volunteered or participated in wellbeing initiatives.
Our initial plan was to conduct one new initiative every month. As the program progressed our employees got curious and excited about the next monthly initiative; because the monthly plan was not fully disclosed.
We had attracted at least 30% of the employees for each event at the first year.

  • Breathing & Wellbeing session by an external consultant (38% of employees attended)

  • Health check-up (blood sugar/pressure/cholesterol) 52% employees attended

  • Nutritionist Talk – healthy eating & dieting (30% employees attended)

  • Volunteering: 80 hours on our chosen initiatives, with almost 25% of staff taking part so far in the program.


Today we can see the impact of our Wellbeing Program and we take pride in the fact that:

  • We have only a 5% employee turnover rate

  • 33% employees have been with us for over 10 years and 48% employees over five years

  • According to our last Employee Satisfaction Survey in November 2017; 98% of the employees feel that “Summertown is a good company to work for” and 90% are” happy in their job”

  • According to our last Wellbeing Satisfaction survey in May 2018; 96% of the employees thinks that “Wellbeing program increased the team spirit amongst employees” and %76 stated that “The program increased his loyalty to the company”

  • We achieved 155 hours in total volunteering hours with 43% employee’s participation

  • We were awarded the inaugural UAE 2017 Happiness @Work Award.

  • Our reputation as a ‘great place to work’ has improved.


The wellbeing of our staff is imperative to the success of our company. Today our sustainability strategy encompasses supporting our employees in a way that aims to make Summertown a great place to work by supporting a healthy work-life balance, enhancing employee health and wellbeing by offering a range of employee benefits.

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Documents:

Our annual sustainability reports detail our performance against the environmental, financial and social issues that we believe matter most to our business and our stakeholders. Our latest report gives a comprehensive overview of Health, Wellbeing and Wellness program, impact and results to-date.
https://www.summertown.ae/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/2017-18-Summertown-Sustainability-Report-low-res.pdf

Do you have a corporate health and wellness initiative that helps increase employee happiness and over-all employee welfare?

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