JJ Burgess & Sons
Family-run funeral directors since 1839.
Having been part of the local community in Hertfordshire for more than 160 years, JJ Burgess & Sons is renowned for its personal service and compassionate team. The family-owned business offers tailored funeral choices and memorials that reflect individual client wishes, customs and traditions. Proprietor Justin Burgess runs six branches, including the Hatfield head office, with the help of his mother, Margaret, and 12 employees.
Spotting the signs
Given the nature of the funeral business, Justin is acutely aware of the impact of mental health problems on wellbeing. But it was after a period of volunteer work where the lack of support really hit home. “For funeral directors, there’s no outlet. It’s almost like that’s what you do, so get on with it,” he says.
“I was aware that when I got back to the business I needed to get some points of contact with the staff. We do see – and deal with – some very horrific situations.”
The urgency was further compounded by the fact that there were three suicides in 18 months at his local rugby club. This led Justin to set up a mental health charity – Just One Click Away (JOCA) – to offer support. It was then that he came across a compelling solution to help highlight potential mental health issues.
“I met Richard through my charity and he mentioned the Feedback360 wellbeing tool which sounded fantastic,” Justin comments. “The individuals [who committed suicide] were the life and soul of the party on the outside, but obviously had deep, dark, hidden worries on the inside. If we had something like the wellbeing tool we might have spotted the signs.”
But like so many proprietors who are keen to provide support for the people they work with, Justin was consumed by the day-to-day running of the business. He had explored other avenues to support staff wellbeing in the past, but they often required a lot of input and time. govox’s approach, however, was refreshingly different.
“govox was so simple to set up; there was nothing to do really,” enthuses Justin.
“If there had been loads of form filling and having to meet with Richard six times to get things up and running, it wouldn’t have happened. I don’t have time for that.”
Having requested permission from his employees to provide govox with their email addresses, Justin approved the questions and the rest was taken care of. “It was really so simple, I was quite shocked, but that’s what sold me on it.”
A short survey is emailed out every Tuesday and the results are delivered to Justin at the end of each week. This provides valuable insight that allows Justin to address issues straightaway.
A good proportion of the staff regularly complete the survey, which they can do from their own phones and at home. “Those that want to say something do so, and that makes it a good platform,” says Justin.
“Staff know it’s there; it’s additional support. They might not use it for six months but on month seven they do because something has cropped up.
It’s a gentle arm around their shoulders. It’s about looking out for each other and the wellbeing tool is an extension of that.”
For Justin, investing in the Wellbeing tool has been totally worthwhile, allowing him to maintain regular communication with his employees on a regular basis.
“It’s opened the door to conversation,” he says. “Perhaps a member of staff wouldn’t come to me and say, ‘this has happened’ or ‘I feel like that’.
The wellbeing tool gives them a portal to openly say what they want to say without chastisement. I can then address anything they bring up; it’s made the conversation more fluid.”
Such is the success of the tool that Justin is keen to see it implemented in as many other organisations as possible – it’s clearly something he’s passionate about.
“It’s offered additional virtual support to our employees. I’ve told other companies about it too. I’m trying to get it into our trade association for funeral directors and I want to get it into all sports clubs as well. I think the Wellbeing tool has massive potential, I really do.”