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People wellbeing at Cats Protection

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Within a company dedicated to the welfare of cats nationwide, we ask what does their people wellbeing strategy look like?

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Animals are synonymous with reliving stress, Mental Health UK reported that pets can help us live mentally healthier lives. Cats Protection is the largest feline welfare charity in the UK, and in the last 90 years, they have rehomed over 1.5 million cats and kittens and championed the rights of cats.

If an organisation is this passionate about the wellbeing and happiness of their cats, how does the wellbeing of their people equate?

A little bit of history…

Jane Gould, Head of HR, Cats Protection UK

In the 1920s generally, cats were not seen as the much-loved pets they are today. A small group were concerned about the treatment of the domestic cat and in an attempt to raise the status of cats, a group of like-minded people gathered together at Caxton Hill in London in 1927 and Cats Protection UK was born.

We are not one-dimensional, and neither should our approach to wellbeing take a one-sided view.”

HRD Connect speaks exclusively with Jane Gould, Head of HR at Cats Protection talks about the wellbeing agenda in place for employees and the people plan has taken inspiration from their furry counterparts.

How highly is wellbeing valued at Cats Protection?

Very highly. Wellbeing is made up of so many different factors but at basis is a state of feeling healthy and happy. We can’t influence every part of an individual’s life, nor should we. However, we do believe that through living our Cats Protection values and by providing different support mechanisms that understand and meet people’s needs, we can encourage and grow good relationships in the workplace. This is such a vital part of the human wellbeing experience.

 

“I think it’s really interesting to look at the evolution of cats against the evolution of humans. From solitary ancestors to group living, we have all had to learn how to communicate in order to live well together. Our needs are complex and sometimes we are unable to express them, which can undermine our sense of wellbeing.”

 

What does your wellbeing strategy look like at Cats Protection?

It’s evolving. I joined Cats Protection in mid-January and part of our People Plan for 2018 includes the objective to support our people to do their best. This year we have identified a few key areas that we are piloting, including building resilience, with a view to developing a long-term strategy over the next few months.

Does this agenda involve any cats? If so, please explain…

I think it’s really interesting to look at the evolution of cats against the evolution of humans. From solitary ancestors to group living, we have all had to learn how to communicate in order to live well together. Our needs are complex and sometimes we are unable to express them, which can undermine our sense of wellbeing.

Pets in general are associated with relieving stress which is a major factor of poor productivity in the UK – what are your thoughts on this being an employee of a large cat charity?

I feel that the best people to answer this question would be our Cat Care Assistants, who daily are in charge of the welfare of the huge number of cats and kittens in our care. It’s not an easy job, they work hard, and they sometimes have to deal with distressing cases.

Yes, animals bring us joy, companionship and affection but that also has its flip side.

 

“Part of an organisation’s agenda should be to help people navigate these uncertainties and make whatever transitions they need to make in order to preserve their state of wellbeing.”

 

What do you think many leaders overlook when designing a wellbeing strategy?

I have been in organisations where the wellbeing agenda is just seen as a tick box exercise and doesn’t take account of the whole person. We are not one-dimensional, and neither should our approach to wellbeing take a one-sided view.

I envision wellbeing at Cats Protection being just what we pay attention to around here and that requires a holistic view.

What would you like to see happen with the wellbeing agenda universally with all organisations?

We know that change and transition is ever-present these days. Part of an organisation’s agenda should be to help people navigate these uncertainties and make whatever transitions they need to make in order to preserve their state of wellbeing.

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