London Met wins Gold award for staff support during the pandemic

The University was recognised at this year's prestigious London Venue and Catering Awards for its initiatives to address staff welfare and wellbeing during Covid-19.

Date: 26 November 2021

London Metropolitan University overcame competition from across the capital to claim the gold medal in the Best Staff Support During Covid-19 category at this year's prestigious London Venue and Catering Awards.

Now in its seventh year, the awards attract entries from some of London's most iconic venues such as the ExCel London, The Camden Roundhouse, The Ritz Hotel, and Alexandra Palace. This year's ceremony took place at the historic Oval Cricket ground on Saturday 20 November.

The Best Staff support category was new for 2021 and was introduced to 'recognise and reward initiatives put in place to address staff welfare and wellbeing'.

"London Met is a values driven organisation and our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lynn Dobbs and the Senior Leadership Team, made it clear early on that nobody in our student or staff communities should be disadvantaged by the pandemic," commented Matthew Brewster, London Met's Director of Estates.

"We really took that message to heart across the whole of the Estates Department putting in place a number of initiatives to support people's wellbeing such as peer support groups, online wellbeing sessions, support calls, and email free windows as well as protecting their jobs and livelihoods. We also wanted that protection to include our partners and contracted staff too," he continued.

"We supported our staff, regardless of whether facilities were open or not. I am proud that when the going got tough, we as a university put staff wellbeing and job security ahead of pure economics and this award is testament to that commitment."

A network of support

As well as ensuring job security, the University was recognised for the range of support put in place to help staff through some of the toughest parts of lockdown. Innovative IT solutions, such as dedicated Microsoft Teams wellbeing spaces, informal video meeting team calls, Whatsapp groups, and wellbeing phone calls, were put in place. Team members were also supported to create online fitness and wellbeing programmes, challenges, quizzes, and guest talks from inspirational athletes.

On giving the award, one judge commented that, "The team has continued to work, whilst remotely and slowly back on site, at all times this has been sensitively done and with the employees in mind. They also supported their third party partners to ensure the collective security of all employees. Whilst not all businesses could have financially achieved this it goes to show the rewards of employee engagement, support and security."

Another said, "The venue have really looked after their staff and considered all aspects of their well-being, from working from home to keep their business trading, ensuring their workplace is Covid safe, to ensuring there is a work-life balance with restricted times for emails, to checking in with the teams on a regular basis and implementing a number of social and fitness activities.

"I also really like the fact that they have also included their contractors staff in their activity to ensure these members of their team were also looked after and considered in their process. For our industry we know how important our suppliers are and how important it is that we work together as a team."

Supporting our community beyond the pandemic

In 2019, London Met became one of the only universities in the country to provide staff with six months full pay during maternity and adoption leave (with qualifying service) and four weeks paternity leave at full pay. This family friendly policy was added to the extensive range of benefits already on offer for staff at the University.