South Australian Business News

How the simple one-on-one meeting changed Bowhill Engineering

Anthony Caldwell
Thursday, October 26th 2023

Jodie Hawkes, CEO of Bowhill Engineering has delved into the art of one-on-one meetings and the significant impact they can have on the mental health and wellbeing staff.

During a recent panel discussion at South Australia’s Biggest Mentally Healthy Business Breakfast, Jodie was asked by the events MC Sonya Feldhoff, about the initiatives in place at Bowhill Engineering to support the mental health and wellbeing of their 60 staff members.

Jodie Hawkes — Bowhill Engineering being interviewed by Sonya Feldhoff at South Australia’s Biggest Mentally Healthy Business Breakfast

Jodie revealed that mental health and wellbeing had been a top priority throughout the organisation’s 20+ year history. Her journey with Boweng’ began after the tragic loss of her brother-in-law, who was not only her husband Jeremy’s brother and best friend but also his business partner.

For two decades, we have been conducting mental health check-ins with our staff and have implemented numerous initiatives to enhance their mental wellbeing. These initiatives include social club events, team meetings, and introducing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) service. However, despite our best efforts, these measures didn’t seem to have a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of our team,” said Jodie.

The challenge of not making substantial progress in the wellbeing of her team led Jodie to introduce a weekly one-on-one meeting initiative between the owners and the senior leadership team. This initiative, as Jodie explained, had a remarkable impact.

At first glance, dedicating 30 minutes each week for these conversations may seem like a significant time commitment, but the value they bring is immeasurable,” she said. 

Although these meetings are intended to focus on work-related matters, they often become about 50% personal. This gives us a deep understanding of what our team members are going through.”

Jodie further elaborated on the effectiveness of this strategy, which involves team members rating their current happiness on a scale of one to ten, sharing positive aspects of their lives, and discussing their challenges. This approach has facilitated authentic conversations among the Bowhill team.

We deal with a diverse range of people, some of whom you might not expect to be so open about their feelings and personal lives. But they do open up, and it’s making a real difference,” she said.

Jodie also discussed the metric they use to track the wellbeing and satisfaction of their team, known as the Boweng Pulse.” It’s a monthly spot-check survey where team members rate their satisfaction based on 3 criteria: Communication, Leadership and culture. Impressively, since the introduction of one-on-one meetings, the average rating has risen to 8.6 out of 10.

On the strength of our success with one-on-one meetings within our leadership group, we have expanded the initiative to include the entire Bowhill team, which will be fully implemented in the next 90 days. It’s helping us build trust,” Jodie added.

When asked about how the initiative has impacted her personally, Jodie revealed that it taught her to lead by example and be more open about the challenges in her own life. In turn, her team reciprocates this honesty, creating a culture of mutual support and understanding.


Anthony Caldwell

Manager, Marketing, Media, Communications
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