Jenny Pollard, HR Director in EMEA at Wasserman UK shares the importance of wellbeing programme at work and how it benefits employees and company.
Research has shown that people in agencies are statistically more likely to suffer from poor mental health, which is why three years ago Wasserman began introducing a range of wellbeing initiatives.
These have since grown into an integrated wellbeing programme that continues to develop and evolve. Our programme focuses on four main themes – Thinking Well, Feeling Well, Living Well and Doing Well – and aims to keep our employees happy, healthy and present at work. We want to communicate that wellbeing, both mental and physical, is at the top of our agenda.
The programme began with a simple Water Bottle Challenge. We have always had perks like fresh fruit, snacks and healthy breakfast options, but we wanted to expand our offering. Each employee was gifted a branded re-useable water bottle and incentivised to increase their daily water intake.
We then introduced similar challenges such as the Stair Climber, 5-A-Day and Wellbeing Bingo. After achieving good participation rates, we built out the programme to incorporate other ways to positively contribute towards both physical and mental health.
We gave employees the option to join a sports team and compete in local social leagues such as netball & football, we then invested in sports equipment for the office and introduced yoga and HIIT classes. This supported our employees’ physical & mental health and also helped with team building and integration for new team members. Since then, we have also entered into group challenges, such as Tough Mudder, the 3 Peaks and the Royal Parks half-marathon.
Although being present at work is very important, downtime is equally valuable. However, as an agency located in central London sometimes it is hard to find some peace and quiet. So, in June 2019 we introduced a new space for employees to take time out away from work. ‘The Reading Room’ is a mobile phone and laptop free zone for employees to recharge and get some headspace, supporting them through their working day.
The room is a tranquil space with cosy seating and greenery that includes a wellbeing library, mindful colouring, free access to meditation apps and yoga equipment. This was our first major step to actively promote reflection time during working hours.
We also offer employees free individual access to the meditation app Headspace, which offers a wide variety of meditation courses including personal growth, motivation, life challenges and much more. Not only is this available in the Reading Room but also outside the office which allows the team to continue their mindfulness practice in their own time.
The programme however doesn’t just offer peace of mind and yoga, but also includes training to support work and personal goals. We partnered with the inspirational Mind Gym, a psychology and behaviour training provider, to offer bite-size training courses that focus on developing skills and knowledge that support wellbeing.
In addition, we offer financial and money smart training to ensure the Wasserman team are looking after their financial wellbeing too along with other wellbeing focused workshops and talks.
Another fantastic and altruistic way to support wellbeing is through doing good work in the community and for charity. Each year, the Wasserman Foundation asks employees to go out into the community and support a local cause for the annual ‘Serve Day’.
This year the London office, revitalised Maxilla Forest Garden in Ladbroke Grove to give schools affected by Grenfell a space to play and feel safe. This year, around 600 employees and friends volunteered in 11 cities across six countries.
Whilst Wasserman strives to ensure strong engagement across all aspect of the wellbeing programme, we recognise there is still a stigma surrounding mental health and having an open conversation on this subject. To combat this, on World Mental Health Awareness Day we launched a new initiative – the Coffee Club.
The Coffee Club is a collective of 12 employees who volunteered to become trained Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs). The MHFAs are available for anyone in our team to grab a coffee and have an open, non-judgmental and confidential chat about mental wellbeing.
The aim of this initiative is to make conversations about mental health easier, to build employee confidence to have open conversations and to break the stigma around this topic. To support the Coffee Club, early next year we are introducing an online Wellbeing Toolkit to include additional resources and tools to help inform and enable all to take an active role in supporting mental wellbeing.
Our aim is to provide an integrated programme that takes a holistic approach to mental and physical wellbeing. Feedback from our employees has been really positive and we will build on our success to continue to evolve and grow the programme.