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Published: 27 May 2021

Hachette UK – Finalist 2021, Best Covid-19 Response

Hachette UK, one of the UK’s leading publishing groups, took a holistic approach to supporting staff during the pandemic. The organisation prioritised the mental, physical and financial wellbeing of employees, underpinned by decisive action and policies for working parents.

In advance of school closures, the HR Director circulated guidance for parents and carers. Hours were reduced to six per day and core working hours were suspended to allow complete flexibility. It was explicitly acknowledged that meetings would be noisy and interrupted, and the organisation recognised there would be a higher risk of burnout for employees balancing caring responsibilities.

All staff were given an additional three days leave and there was a reduction on the number of meetings. This involved keeping a two-hour period free over lunch and encouragement for all employees to break for fresh air.

Access to Employee Assistance Programmes, peer support, mental health first aid training and wellbeing networks all helped working parents during the pandemic.

In response to how staff felt the publisher had managed the emerging pandemic and lockdown, 95% awarded four or five stars for ‘communicating about and addressing queries and concerns’ and ‘upholding and demonstrating our culture and values throughout.’