At the Financial Conduct Authority we often face unique challenges as a regulator. But the challenges we face as an employer are often shared by many employers in financial services and beyond. One key challenge is how we make our offices a great place to work for a diverse work force.
We, like other employers, understand the crucial link between our colleagues’ wellbeing andin their jobs and work efficiently and effectively. This is one of the reasons why we want the environment in which we work to promote wellbeing and good mental health. We have an Executive Diversity Committee, which I chair, which leads and directs the FCA’s diversity and inclusion agenda. We also have a number of staff networks including our physical and mental health network.
We are also very aware that, as a regulator, we hold other employers to account on their culture and how they manage their employees and treat their customers so we feel an obligation to lead by example.
In 2018 we moved from Canary Wharf to Stratford. We were very keen that this wasn’t just a lift and shift from one location to another, and that we took advantage of all the opportunities that a new location and a purpose-built new building with new technology offered. This was a unique opportunity for us to look at how we work, how we might improve our wellbeing offer, and how we could design a building which was as inclusive as possible.
My team and I were lucky enough to lead the design and construction of the building, handpicking everything from the layout, colour schemes and lighting, to facilities like our dedicated Wellbeing Suite. We chose each feature with mental health and wellbeing in mind every step of the way and balanced this against a need to achieve value for money.
The key to making this work was listening to our colleagues. We got a lot of really helpful feedback about how we could improve our ways of working and our environment.
A huge team of Move Makers acted as our front-line communicators. We carried out a series of equality impact assessments to make sure the needs of our diverse workforce were met. We considered the mental health needs of colleagues of different ages, gender identities, beliefs, sexual orientations, and ethnic identities, as well as disabilities and other life circumstances.
In response, we introduced a greater variety of spaces – a library-style quiet zone, collaboration and brainstorming areas, and meeting rooms for one on one sessions as well as big groups. Our Wellbeing floor offers a gym and classes like yoga, Pilates, back Pilates, meditation and pregnancy yoga, as well as on-site occupational health and wellbeing assessments. We have a faith and contemplation room. A central atrium staircase encourages walking and chance encounters between colleagues. We’re based on the edge of the Olympic Park which provides open spaces, and we have produced walking meeting maps. The colour scheme we use in the office is based on research into what works best for colleagues with Asperger’s and autism, and those with visual impairments.
New technology adopted as part of the move also allows colleagues in our offices toof mental health challenges and wellbeing practices that have worked for them and makes a reality. The upgrade includes a blog space, much like this one, for colleagues to share and respond to stories. A number of colleagues, including our Chair, have spoken out openly and courageously about their mental health experiences and this has promoted a collective awareness of mental health at work.
We have kept some essential colleague benefits such as our– a dedicated, confidential counselling service available to all colleagues 24 hours a day that ensures that they have an independent person they can speak to about any mental health concerns, in or out of work.
Our purpose-built new home in Stratford was designed with love and care to support good mental health. I am proud of what we have achieved and I hope that our colleagues are feeling the benefits of what we have put in place. We are still open to feedback and continue to make improvements to our environment, technology and wellbeing offer.