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“We know that being a good employer is the best thing we can do for business”

Mindful Employer Leeds catches up with Jayne Uren, Human Resources Manager at Leeds Marriott Hotel to hear about her approach to staff wellbeing and why it’s something that every business should prioritise.


Firstly Jayne, tell us a bit about you and your role at Leeds Marriott

After leaving school I enrolled onto a Youth Training Scheme for Hospitality, and I have never worked in another industry since. I have secured various roles in Housekeeping and Operations and I have worked my way from employee level to managerial level, this gave me a wealth of experience during this time which I have used on many occasions. I then became interested in Human Resources back in 2002 when I was given the opportunity to work alongside the “Personnel Manager” as it was now by then. This ignited a passion in me that change my career directions from an Operational Manager to an Administration Manager of sorts. I have now worked in HR for 16 years and had roles as single & multi property Human Resources Manager.

The role of HR Manager is a generalist role, covering topics such as Engagement, Reward & Recognition, Employment Relations, Learning & Development, Absence Management, Diversity & Inclusion, Wellbeing and many more topics. We are focused on “Putting People First” and this is also one of our core values within the company. My aim is to raise engagement within the hotel, promote wellbeing increase retention and be an ambassador to promote Hospitality as a career choice within the community.


Why is mental health important to you?

We all have mental health and we can all experience mental health problems at various times in our lives. Here at Leeds Marriott I want us to be recognised as an employer that understands this and supports our staff whenever they experience personal challenges or poor mental health, just as we would with physical health.

What’s more, I know how positive work can be for wellbeing. By creating a working environment that is inclusive, safe and supportive, I know that we are helping to keep people well and happy.


Where did you start your mental health journey?

Back in 2019 we received Disability Confident Level 3 certification.  We were the first hotel in Leeds, the first non-government funded business in Leeds and the first Marriott Hotel in the UK to receive this. We’ve just had our Disability Confident Leader status renewed for another three years which we’re immensely proud of. We are committed to raising awareness, educating, offering work experience and careers to people with all kinds of disabilities. Through partnerships with local services we offer work placements which can often lead to successful appointments. Some of our best staff have joined Leeds Marriott through this route.

In creating a culture that is inclusive and positive about disability, we are also creating a culture that promotes positive wellbeing for everyone. Caring about staff mental health is so closely aligned to who we are, it was an inevitable next step.


Tell us how you’re embedding a positive approach to mental health?

We offer mental health awareness training to all our staff. This has helped to build awareness and tackle stigma. Our managers have a clear understanding of our expectations in how to support staff who are struggling and they know they can come to me for further support. My door is always open, and staff know that they can speak to me without fear of judgement or negative treatment. I will always make a point of catching up with people again to check how they are doing.

People know that staff wellbeing is a priority at Leeds Marriott. We’ve created a dedicated room for staff to relax and engage in positive activities – we’ve even welcomed a therapy dog to meet our team!

We know that opening up conversations about mental health is so important in tackling stigma. We always mark national days such as #TimeToTalk and World Mental Health Day, and we are proud to be raising money as a team for Leeds Mind.


How do you know that your approach is working?

We have seen increased staff retention and engagement. Our people love working at Leeds Marriott and want to stay with us. This is reflected in the fantastic service they show our customers and the high levels of satisfaction our customers report. We know that being a good employer is the best thing we can do for business.


How have you been affected by the pandemic?

The pandemic has been immensely challenging time for the hospitality sector. We had to furlough almost all of our staff and have since had to make significant redundancies which has been extremely difficult. Our business is slowly recovering but we have a long way to go. Our staff have experienced many of the negative impacts of the pandemic – financial insecurity, isolation, grief and loss. We know that the after effects will remain for some time, which makes it even more important that we are here, ready to offer support when people need it.


What are your current priorities?

At the moment I am the only Mental Health First Aider. In the coming months we hope to train more people to be able to help their colleagues in this way.

We also hope to start actively monitoring our staff wellbeing. It’s important that we know how people are feeling, what support they need and the impact we are having. This way we can keep developing what we do, knowing it’s what our staff need and confident that we’re getting it right.

We will show our commitment by signing the Mindful Employer Charter for employers positive about mental health. We hope that this will set a great example to others and we will use our influence locally to encourage other hospitality businesses to do the same.


What would you say to other local businesses interested in following your approach?

You have nothing to lose – your staff will reward you with their loyalty and performance. Your customers will be happy and your business with thrive.

There are so many tools and resources out there to help – it doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking and it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Join Leeds Mindful Employer Network so that you can learn from other employers and keep informed about local campaigns, resources and support. The Mindful Employer team can meet with you and help get you started with their Ten Steps Toolkit.

Click here to find out more about Leeds Mindful Employer.

Jayne Uren rotated