Q: Why does BSI take a leadership position in prioritizing its people, and how does it demonstrate its commitment to a robust work-life balance?
Gary Slack: in a global organization such as BSI, we take a leadership role in putting our people first, because if our people feel valued, then our customers will also feel valued.
The well-worn mantra ‘our people are our strongest asset’ is nowhere more true than in our medical devices Division, where our greatest value to the market is our teams’ technical expertise and industry experience. Indeed, that high-end specialist knowledge and experience is why many of our customers choose BSI.
Putting our people first means creating flexible solutions within a supportive, listening culture that embraces technology, nurtures new ways of working, and offers a fulfilling and enjoyable place to work. Our employee engagement survey has helped us define how we support our people’s work-life balance and well-being.
For example, in this fast-changing world, accelerated by Covid-19, we have made a significant shift to more remote audit activity, with the introduction of hybrid medical device audits. Part of the audit offering remains in-person and onsite, but a significant proportion is now delivered remotely, so we’re reducing the ‘road warrior’ element of the role, leaving our audit teams with more quality time for family and friends. Fewer road miles also underpin BSI’s sustainability development goals by reducing our carbon footprint.
Increasing the use of technology has supported this more agile way of working, enabling our managers to continue to build close team relationships. Our long-term investment strategy is to transform further ways of working, making it easier for our people to do their best work.
Finally, we have also implemented a competitive benefits package that includes financial and non-financial rewards, with excellent schemes providing fast access to support resources.
Q: Tell us more about the ‘9 in 10’ pilot programme carried out in the medical device team.
Claudette Bedeau: our medical devices colleagues used the employee engagement survey to give us the feedback we needed to address their work-life balance issues. Our key aim was to provide a holistic attraction and retention strategy, focused not simply on how we can motivate and engage them now, but also into the future.
We engaged an external research consultancy to look at what modern ways of working would look like. As a result, we agreed to pilot a new working-day pattern called ‘9 in 10’, now under the banner of our ‘Great Imagine’ BSI programme. The principle behind the pilot is that over a 10-day period, colleagues work nine long days, leaving one day every fortnight as a non-working day. To ensure we remain client-centric, teams can stagger the pattern of Week 1 and Week 2 so that there are never too many people on a non-working day at the same time.
Q: How strong has the take-up of 9 in 10 been?
Claudette Bedeau: the success of 9 in 10 demonstrates how much our people want to review their working patterns and seek some equilibrium between work and home. When we initially launched the pilot, 32 out of the team of 51 opted to participate, including colleagues from the UK, USA, Ireland, India, and Malaysia. We have since extended the pilot beyond the General medical devices team, and to date, we have about 55 colleagues who are now participating.
To address the needs of those employees for whom the 9 in 10 working day pattern isn’t suitable, we are exploring other flexible working options.
Q: What have been the benefits of 9 in 10 – for those taking part and for the business overall?
Claudette Bedeau: the results of our pulse survey in April speak for themselves. 83% of people felt the 9 in 10 pilot had had a positive effect on their work-life balance. 72% thought the new working day pattern had been positive in terms of work pressure, and an overwhelming 86% felt it was something they would like to adopt permanently.
Haydar Jaafar: the work carried out by the medical devices team is highly specialized and technical. Our people have to focus on absorbing technical data presented by manufacturers of medical devices, critiquing this data against the regulatory requirements and issuing assessment reports that identify gaps, if any.
We want our technical specialists to be fresh, relaxed and eager to do the best they can. This highly demanding work requires vigorous and thorough reviews, which in turn lead to better quality output reports. Therefore, it is imperative in our industry to identify any potential pitfalls that may manifest themselves when using medical devices. For example, an inherent design fault may cause an increase in the device risk profile and result in severe harm to patients.
By ensuring we have the correct work-life balance for our hardworking colleagues, we will safeguard their wellbeing and ensure patient safety.
Q: How does BSI’s commitment to achieving a robust work-life balance impact how people view it as an employer?
Haydar Jaafar: the comments below demonstrate how BSI is succeeding in prioritizing its people:
- “Team members join BSI because of its reputation as being a market leader.”
- “Everyone is committed to their role and feels supported by BSI, which motivates them.”
- “The leadership team is really approachable, efficient and a pleasure to work with.”
- “People feel that their work is worthwhile, giving them a sense of positive contribution and of making a difference.”
- “The 9 in 10 working day pattern pilot is a positive move and roll-out is welcomed across more of RS.”
- “It has been important to be able to adjust schedules with line managers during the pandemic, allowing employees to work around family commitments.”
- “Career pathways are seen as a positive and motivational step forward.”