Any trade charity is only effective if it is close to and listening to what the industry it serves needs for support. Over recent years one issue has repeatedly come top for many drinks businesses, both big and small – the mental wellbeing of their staff faced with huge challenges during the Covid lockdowns and subsequent cost of living crisis. It’s why The Drinks Trust, the main drinks industry charity, has come up with a new Business Advisory Programme designed to give companies the tools and advice they need to offer their staff a comprehensive wellbeing support service. Ross Carter, the charity’s chief executive, explains how it is going to work.
The Drinks Trust is set to work with the first 20 drinks companies as part of its new Business Advisory Programme to offer wellbeing services to the drinks industry.
The Drinks Trust has done a lot of work in recent years looking to help the trade and its members with their mental health with a number of initiatives. You are are now launching a new Business Advisory Programme -what are you looking to offer?
Many businesses in our industry acknowledge that they would like to do more for their employees in the preventative wellbeing space, but their challenges include time and knowledge to source appropriate materials and potential training, and thereafter, to maintain focus.
The Business Advisory Programme was a designed as a direct result of feedback from our business partners and has five core objectives:
- To provide member companies with the resources, the training, and the support they need to design and execute a meaningful wellbeing strategy that is tailormade to their business.
- To be specific to the drinks and hospitality industry.
- To focus on Preventative & Proactive Wellbeing solutions.
- To support the business in maintaining focus throughout the year by training in-house “Wellbeing Champions” who are crucial to successful execution.
- To enable the members to measure impact.
Where did the inspiration for the new service come from?
Like all of the services developed by The Drinks Trust, the inspiration and the demand came from the industry itself. In late 2022, The Drinks Trust was approached by partner businesses who were all very different in size and model and operating in different channels but faced similar challenges – sourcing well-being solutions and industry-appropriate training to support their employees in leading company-wide proactive wellbeing initiatives. These businesses came to The Drinks Trust and asked if we would be willing to curate something that helped the industry meet these challenges and ensure that we help the individual to thrive in the workplace.
How have you gone about putting the programme together and deciding how it is going to work?
The Drinks Trust created the Business Advisory Programme together with a number of engaged and inspiring businesses who have directly contributed to the design and development at all stages.
After mapping out the challenges and opportunities and agreeing on the core objectives, The Drinks Trust Wellbeing team consulted with existing well-being suppliers and reached out to new ones to gain further insight and expertise and find industry-tailored impactful solutions and resources. This will be an on-going process in order to ensure that the information provided remains fresh and up to the minute.
The concept of the BAP is to nurture a collaborative approach and as such, the programme will be guided by a steering committee of member companies and every member will have the opportunity to contribute to the direction and content in year one. For this reason, we are only inviting a maximum of 20 businesses to join the BAP in year one, and access will then roll out to the wider industry thereafter.
You are in particular looking to address the chronic staffing issues and shortages in the trade with this initiative?
With the BAP programme we are looking to address any well-being issues affecting the employees of the drinks industry in a preventative way, and that is the most ground-breaking aspect of it. The wider economic costs of mental illness in England have been estimated at £105.2 billion each year. This includes direct costs of services, lost productivity at work and reduced quality of life.
Moreover, the UK is facing an employee absenteeism crisis due to stress and mental health problems. According to a recent survey of 900 businesses by the Chartered Institute of Professional Development, employee absences are at a 10-year high. In the survey, stress was highlighted as the reason for short-term absences in 76% of cases, and poor mental health was the reason cited for 63% of long-term absences. The report emphasised the need for companies to focus on preventative health and well-being strategies.
The BAP will provide ongoing support and proactive welfare solutions to support companies to implement a preventative strategy, explicitly created for the drinks and hospitality industry. This should help them reduce individences of short- and long-term absences, improve employee wellbeing and make these businesses more attractive to industry professionals as prospective employers.
The programme consists of a number of different elements – can you explain how it is broken down?
The programme consists of four key elements:
- An online platform that will host hundreds of resources in different formats. The BAP member well-being lead will completely customise the platform according to their businesses’ well-being strategy and interests. The platform will also include well-being calendars, with accompanying resources, allowing the leads to plan ahead companies’ activities around them.
- Consortium buying – training opportunities offered at a discounted rate for the BAP members.
- Live events – 4 opportunities for members to get together in a year to discuss challenges and attend workshops.
- Execution through a series of trained in-house Wellbeing Champions.
How did you decide those were the most effective services to offer and focus on
Each of the elements was designed to meet the challenges presented, and the objectives identified with our member businesses, with the clear vision that delivery should be simple, easy, informative and impact could be specifically measured. The Business Advisory Programme will act as a “de facto” wellbeing advisor and significantly lower cost.
The programme has also been designed so that you build up a library of support and resources that people in the trade can access and use as and when they want?
Indeed, that’s correct. All the resources are divided into four main categories: physical, mental, social, and financial well-being. Then will be applied a multitude of sub-categories relevant to the resource itself.
Important features of the platform include the capability of uploading resources both from The Drinks Trust acting as a leading manager of the platform, but each of the companies can upload their own resources, customising then even more the online platform according to their businesses’ strategies. The resources will be constantly reviewed and updated, working in partnership with our selected suppliers.
There is also an element of group collaboration, so that members can share their experiences of different initiatives, and resources, with each other.
You have also linked up with third party services that the trade can access at reduced rates – what are they and how do people sign up?
Correct. Part of the programme developing process was recruiting well-being suppliers, which can be corporate well-being partners, such as We Are Wellbeing, Club Soda or FinWell, each of them with proven track record of helping businesses improve best practices and wellbeing across the wider spectrum. Moreover, we partner with fellow charities such as RightSteps and the Money Charity to deliver relevant and up to the minute support and information.
The training options feature in the platform and members will simply book through the BAP coordinator at The Drinks Trust.
You are also looking for businesses to set up sign up to your Wellbeing Champions – how is that going to work and what will their responsibilities be?
The Wellbeing Champions course is a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) accredited course, designed exclusively for the drinks and hospitality industry by leading experts We are Well-being and is based on their award-winning Champions model.
This course will provide the Drinks Trust Champions with the practical tools and knowledge to support their colleagues and ongoing development of wellbeing in the workplace and equip them with resources for future reference in the BAP Platform. Wellbeing Champions will then join a network of peers across the industry where they will be able to share best practices and benefit from staying in touch and refresher sessions, all completely free of charge.
With the launch of the BAP programme, it will be highly likely that the companies’ wellbeing champions will then be the well-being leads of the programme itself.
You are initially looking to trial this initiative – why is that and how is the trial going to work?
We feel that being such an innovative project it’s a learning experience both for the members and for us as well, hence we’ve decided to keep the number of members in year one relatively small so that we could pay each of the members’ attention and care much needed in the trial phase. At the end of year one, we will evaluate the project by measuring five different outcomes.
On entering the BAP, each business will carry out an employee well-being survey, and at the end of 12 months. The survey will capture qualitative and quantitative data that will be benchmarked against other members anonymously but also to measure self-improvement over a 12-month period.
We will evaluate the number of people using the platform and benefitting from the resources, the number of people who have undergone training with a platform provider and employee absenteeism.
Which businesses are going to take part in the trial from launch?
The first members of the Programme are Chapel Down, Davy’s, Drake & Morgan, Gusbourne, Hatch Mansfield, Jeroboams, Lay & Wheeler and Maison Marques et Domaines, and a few other companies have expressed a strong interest in joining the programme in year one.
Please allow me to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to these companies for believing in this project and for investing in their employees and, by extension, in the wellbeing of industry employees.
Can other businesses volunteer to take part in the trial?
We are still recruiting companies willing to sign up as BAP members. The only requirement we have is that the business is either an existing, or will become a business partner of The Drinks Trust and membership is charged at a nominal cost for year one of £2,500
When do you see the service being opened up at all to the trade and your members?
We are currently recruiting the last members to trial year one, and then after reviewing and assessing the first year, we will be opening up to the wider industry.
However, we still have two to three places available to be filled in the next few weeks, so if you work for a small, medium-sized business, and your company is facing the same challenges as reported above, please contact us to discuss how to join the programme.
Anything else to say?
The BAP does not replace an EAP service on its own, but together with our free services, it can offer a business an alternative to the standard EAP route. Any business who would like to discuss how that can work can get in touch with Nicky@TheDrinksTrust.org.uk at any time.
In addition, as an innovator in the wellbeing space, The Drinks Trust was uniquely placed to create something as ground-breaking as the BAP and we will continue to source suppliers and market knowledge to ensure that members are reliably and regularly informed. We would encourage any suppliers, who feel that they have a service or training to offer our industry to get in touch, as well.
- If you would like to find out any more about The Drinks Trust and its services click here.