The Big Interview with Jess Badley

Jen Gaster spoke with Blood Cancer UK's Head of HR and OD, Jess Badley, to hear more about her career and what is on the agenda from an HR perspective.

How did you get into Human Resources?

Finishing university, HR wasn’t an option I had ever thought about.

I started off in general management and operations. I always had HR as part of my roles but there was also finance, project management, estates, office services all of those types of roles.

I then realised that the part of my job that I loved the most was the people. Recruiting great people, developing them and the idea that you can create a really brilliant workplace culture.

I decided to study for my level 7 CIPD qualification and then in 2016 moved into my first pure HR role.

What is on the agenda for you from an HR perspective that you are really passionate about?

For me, it is really trying to create a great place to work. 

Focusing on wellbeing and making sure our organisation really lives by its values and also around agile and hybrid working as I think those things work really well together, and if you get them right you become a really good workplace for people.

I think especially with our wellbeing strategy our aim has always been that managing isn’t enough, we really want people to thrive if they can.

We want work to be a great experience.

You recently won the category for wellbeing at The Culture Pioneer Awards, are you able to share the things you have implemented that saw you recognised?

Absolutely, we really want our employees to be thriving at work. 

For us, supporting our employees has to be part of our organisational culture. 

For example, making sure it is very clear in every policy, that it is embedded in our performance management process, that it is recognisable in our values themselves but also in our work on equality, diversity and inclusion and also really clear in our benefits offer for our staff.

It sounds like you when you talk about it being part of every policy you are talking about financial wellbeing, physical wellbeing, emotional wellbeing and all the other aspects that fall into that. 

Yes absolutely, I think a lot of people start with mental health and of course, that is a huge part of wellbeing but there are a lot of other aspects that feed into that. 

If, for example, you start looking at your digital wellbeing as an organisation there are lots of practical things you can do to support people’s mental health so I think they all can work really well together once you start to pull the strategy together.

What tips would you give people, where would you advise people to start?

It is huge! I think I would sympathise with anyone who has a small team and huge workload already, you have to prioritise. 

The thing that I learnt and my team learnt is that if you asked all of your colleagues in the organisation what would be the most helpful for them at the moment that gives you a good place to start. 

It might surprise you as well, the things that you think might be really important to people might not be so asking is a great way to start. 

We did a simple survey that people could fill in anonymously, we then circulated the answers to give everyone a couple of opportunities to express what they needed. 

Having the second prompt generated ideas from people, so we just got a wealth of suggestions it was really great.  

What else practically would somebody need to be thinking about to address this next year?

It is worth thinking about the resources that are available to you for free, I have found that a lot of people are very happy to share ideas and resources for nothing. 

It means you do not have to do everything yourself, if you want to run a training session for your team there are a lot of people who will help, share and come and do sessions. 

So definitely have a look at what is out there.

What are your plans for the future?

We are honing down the pillars we have identified a little and have started looking at digital wellbeing and our organisational approach to that. 

We are going to do a series of workshops on financial wellbeing as well.

We are also going to look at men’s health and have already started a programme of work with Bloody Good Period and we’re going to do some work on menopause as well so we are going to carry on all of those strands throughout the next year. 

What lies ahead for you after the past couple of years and what is on the agenda for the organisation as a whole?

It has been a really difficult couple of years but we have come through it fighting. 

For us, the blood cancer community is at the centre of everything. 

We have had some huge successes with the vaccine task force that we have set up this year. 

It is really important that anyone with blood cancer, or anyone that knows or supports anyone with blood cancer, has as much up-to-date information as possible. 

Obviously, as a charity, we have to fundraise, we don’t have any government funding as obviously during the pandemic fundraising has gone down. 

We have to think about how we adapt and what new fundraising streams we can look at, while also making sure our staff don’t overwork. 

The other two big things are how we are managing our flexible and hybrid working, I think we are really progressive with this, what we say to our staff is it doesn’t matter to us where you work, we focus on objectives and outputs. 

A key reason for that is that equality and diversity and inclusion are really important to us. Both internally so what our staff team looks like but also externally as well because we know that we will only beat blood cancer if we beat it for everybody and not just one section of the community.

And that will broaden the opportunity to attract the best talent into the organisation moving forwards.

Yes, I think so we have definitely seen that over the past year since we have adopted that approach, we’ve got these fantastic people that otherwise would never have been able to work for us before and we would have missed out on all of that talent and it has been really great from that point of view.

What can we do to help Blood Cancer UK moving forwards?

I would say actually the first thing is that blood cancer is the UK’s third-biggest cancer killer, so if you do nothing else, please look on our website because the signs and symptoms of blood cancer are on there and a lot of people aren’t aware of those. 

There is lots of information on the website about our research and support services. 

Volunteers are also vital for us, if you go to the website, it gives lots of different examples of how people might like to do that. 

If you want to fundraise for us, there are lots of different opportunities to do so. 

It doesn’t matter where you live there are opportunities all over the UK.

The website is

If you are able to donate, it makes a huge difference to us, your donations make a real impact to us. 

To give you an idea, £10 can allow researchers to analyse the genetic make-up of a cancer cell and that helps to increase our understanding of how blood cancer develops and how we can beat it. 

We also have a couple of vacancies open right now so if you think working with us sounds fun have a look at that on the website as well!