It's all about the people
One of the Met Office's greatest strengths is its people. The organisation is passionate about supporting everyone who works at the Met Office to lead a happy, healthy and fulfilling work life.
As a world-leader in meteorology and climate science, the Met Office relies on attracting the best minds from a huge variety of different backgrounds. As Met Office Diversity and Policy Consultant, Lorraine Croome, points out, a vital part of this is making sure people feel the organisation is a great place to work:
"We want to make sure our people are happy when they're here. And if they're well and motivated in their work, our partners and customers benefit too, because they know they're working with a team that's committed to doing a great job."
A supportive environment
From sports clubs and flexible working hours, to recognising employee achievements through events such as the annual Chief Executive's Awards, the Met Office takes a 'big picture' approach to wellbeing. One area of focus is the Mental Wellbeing Initiative, which aims to support staff experiencing mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression.
Together with Workways, a service run by the NHS Devon Trust, the Met Office held a series of workshops to raise awareness of these common conditions and their relationship with work life. These included 'Being Mindful', a workshop for line managers, and 'Being Resilient', which gave staff practical tips for looking after their mental wellbeing both at home and in the workplace.
The 'Being Resilient' workshops were followed up with a video, produced with Workways, covering the techniques discussed. This is available online as a permanent resource for all Met Office staff - providing guidance whenever it's needed.
A Mindful Employer
These workshops are examples of how committed the Met Office is to supporting mental wellbeing - a commitment that Chief Executive Rob Varley has made public by becoming a signatory to the Mindful Employer Charter. The charter, set up by Workways, encourages employers to demonstrate positive attitudes towards employees and job applicants with mental health issues.
Sharing new ideas
The Met Office's dedication to creating a supportive working environment has also sparked a host of staff-led groups. For example in 2014, Met Office employee Mary Sherwood launched her initiative to make the Met Office a Dementia Carer Friendly workplace. By raising awareness and understanding of dementia and creating a Dementia Carer Network with Carer Buddies, colleagues have been able to share experiences and support a better carer/work/life balance for those affected by dementia.
This pioneering approach has been so successful that Mary is retiring to concentrate on developing Dementia Carer Friendly Workplaces in other organisations. You can find out more at www.4dementiacarers.org.uk.
Every so often, Met Office groups such as the Dementia Carer Network, the Parenting Network and the Accessibility Network meet as part of the Diversity Action Forum to share news and ideas and discuss how they could support each other. Lorraine is very proud of this sharing culture at the Met Office, explaining the benefit it has to employees:
"These groups are doing so many great things. A crucial part of balancing your work and home life is to be able to share with people who are going through the same experiences and to feel there's a support network around you."
As wellbeing at work can cover so many different areas, Lorraine explains that the Met Office is always happy to hear ideas from staff about creating a sustainable, supportive working environment. "It's really important for people to feel empowered to have a positive effect on the workplace. If people have ideas about how they could support others, we can help them achieve their aims."
Planning for the future
The Met Office is dedicated to supporting people from all backgrounds to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.
As part of this, the Met Office has signed up to the Athena SWAN charter, and is pleased to be applying for an award. Athena SWAN promotes gender equality in employment in higher education and research institutions, and awards member organisations that demonstrate a commitment to advancing women and trans people's careers. As well as the Met Office, signatories to the charter include a host of UK universities, the British Antarctic Survey and the Natural History Museum, among others.
Having signed the charter in June 2015, the Met Office is currently in the early stages of applying for an award. This involves carrying out a detailed self-assessment of the organisation's work to promote diversity and equality, which could take into account everything from inspiring young people through the STEM ambassador programme, to career advancement. A team of 20 volunteers, both men and women, has been selected from across the Met Office to begin putting together the application.
- You can find out more about Athena SWAN at www.athenaswan.org.uk