Carlisle Brass Case Study

Workplace Challenge helps Carlisle Brass to reduce absenteeism and improve staff satisfaction

Organisation Profile

Name of organisation:

Carlisle Brass

Type of organisation:

Private sector

Organisation size:

Approx. 100 employees

Geographical location:

North West


  • Carlisle Brass have a strong track record in relation to health and safety and have extended this to health and wellbeing with the Workplace Challenge recognised as a key part of the organisations approach to workplace health.
  • The organisation began by piloting involvement in a national challenge and then invested time and funding to coordinate the programme and incentivise staff to participate.
  • The Workplace Challenge was identified as a good fit against the organisations priorities.
  • There is a recognition of the link between an active workforce, reduced absenteeism and improved staff satisfaction.
  • The Challenge motivated employees to move more and become healthier.
  • The Challenge has the firm commitment from the Managing Director, is embedded as part of the health and safety group and supported by managers who have incorporated the programme into their KPIs
  • A range of sustainable activities have been established following the organisations involvement in the Challenge.

What was the main reason the organisation got involved in Workplace Challenge?

The company has a strong health and safety ethos, with a clear focus on issues like risk assessment training, safe working practices, and communication. This applies across the organisation, from management staff working in offices, through to those in the warehouses, or further afield in terms of people working further up the supply chain. The focus has been mainly on the 'safety' aspect of health and safety, but in recent years this has shifted more to include the health and wellbeing of the workforce:

"Times have changed, it was just about the safety aspect of work, very much now the focus is on the health of our employees and the health of the wider workforce."

Health and Safety Manager – Paul McConnell

How did the organisation hear about Workplace Challenge?

An email communication from Active Cumbria the local County Sports Partnership (CSP) was sent. Carlisle Brass recognised its potential and how it would fit in with the emerging activity based culture of the organisation.

What activities did the organisation do as part of Workplace Challenge?

The Challenge was small to begin with, in a pilot phase. The organisation started with participation in the national eight week challenge that was taken up by a small and enthusiastic group. Following the initial 8 week pilot phase, the project champion developed a plan to engage the whole organisation in Workplace Challenge. With the support of the Managing Director, they identified a budget for spot prizes to provide an incentive for people to take part, and for promotion internally.

As well as incentives, the company takes part in occasional promotional days or events. They used the energy and enthusiasm behind the Challenge to organise a focused 'Sport Relief event' for the whole company. The aim was to have someone being active for every minute between 8am and 7pm, in an activity relay. People were asked to use 30 minutes of their own time and the company gave them 30 minutes of work time to get changed before and after. Then people did whatever activity they wanted and passed the 'baton' to the next person:

"We had the cyclists going out into the hills for half an hour, runners and walkers. We managed it throughout the day and it was all for Sport Relief. We raised a good couple of hundred pounds which the company doubled for our donation to Sport Relief."

Senior Manager.

What was the impact of the Workplace Challenge on business outcomes?

The Challenge appealed to the managers of the company as it allowed the flexibility for people to be active either on their own or as part of an organised group, while still bringing them together under a common cause. Above all, they liked it as it was easy to use:

"We signed up just to see how it worked, what it would show us, what benefits we could get from it and how easy it is to log. We really liked it, so we all agreed, it's tailor made already, it's ticked every box that we said we need."

Senior Manager

While the direct link between health programmes and profit is hard to make, it was clear there is a realisation of the indirect benefits, notably on rates of absenteeism. One director said these are currently low in the company, but 'we'd like to drive them lower'. Overall, it is more about staff satisfaction and happiness with where they work.

"We want Carlisle Brass to be a great place to work, we want our employees to be happy and proud of where they work."

Managing Director – Rachel Attwood.

"The take-up is important. I challenge myself to have 25% take-up of all our employees, at the end of the year, still actively logging. We nearly hit 50% at the start of the year, but the target is to keep them active and logging. So that's one KPI as part of my three goals where we all have three non-business as usual goals throughout the year."

Senior Manager.

Susan's Story

Susan made a personal commitment to get fitter and lose some weight, through stepping up her exercise and eating more healthily:

"I thought, 'I need to do something, I need to sort my life out.' So, I made a commitment to myself, and I committed to look after myself, by getting fit and losing weight. I go swimming every night, or four to five times a week. I swim a kilometre every night, and I joined Slimming World, and I've lost a stone in two weeks."

Susan said that 'without question' Workplace Challenge helped, as it motivated her to keep going, keep logging activities, and enjoy a bit of healthy competition:

"[Workplace champion] kept saying, 'Are you logging that? Are you logging it?' so I've started logging, and now I'm starting to see myself go up the leaderboards."

What were the key factors influencing success of the Workplace Challenge in the organisation?

  • Commitment and encouragement from the Managing Director which has spread to the senior management team
  • Provision of funding for promotion, including massive banners around the offices, and prizes
  • Successful communication; as well as the usual methods of communication, e.g. sending emails encouraging people to take part, they have funded large banners promoting the Challenge; put up leaderboards across the offices, and have set out on a deliberate recruitment campaign using word-of-mouth persuasion
  • Integration of the Challenge into committee meetings so that people in each department have a responsibility to talk to their team members and recruit them to sign up

"I think getting MD buy-in is critical."

Senior Manager - Angus Grant.

"The Workplace Challenge came along at the right time. It's all about promoting the benefits of being fit and healthy."

Health and Safety Manager – Paul McConnell

The Challenge also looks likely to have a lasting legacy in terms of groups being set up, and even changes being made to the working environment to encourage activity with the following activities established:

  • cycling club
  • running club

"Now we're including the Workplace Challenge in our health and safety committee so that goes into our communication structure and is discussed by the group. We've now got leaderboards in canteens and it's changed every week of who's doing what. So, it gives people regular feedback. We're investing in this and we want employees to engage and give us ideas of what we can do to improve."

Focus group participant