|Blog Article|||||By Angela Sherwood||12 November 2020|
From partnering with an Olympic gold medallist to virtual briefings, Simplyhealth’s chief people officer, Angela Sherwood, reveals how they are leading a revolution in employee wellbeing.
At Simplyhealth every day we live by our purpose of improving access to healthcare – helping people to live healthier and happier lives. Yet when we launched our newly shaped Health and Wellbeing Strategy in January 2020 to support our 975 colleagues, little did we know that just a few months later, we’d be in a national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
We had to quickly rethink our entire health and wellbeing plan for the year. We set about firstly making sure colleagues were safe and then explored how we could better support everyone, during this unsettling and unprecedented time. Speaking to many other organisations, I’m sure this is something we can all relate to.
In the spirit of helping everyone to continue to stay safe and healthy at this time, here are some of the things we’ve learnt from this challenging, yet rewarding period so far. They are the things our colleagues tell us they value and have appreciated above all else…
Communication has been key. We’ve been taking the time to listen closely to our colleagues and their feedback, through regular pulse surveys, new starter virtual lunches, an in depth working from home survey and a discussion feed on all internal “news” articles. We quickly adopted a rhythm of regular updates from our Senior Leadership team, alongside virtual colleague briefings. Our updates are available on a new coronavirus-related area of our intranet, providing a central hub for all colleague, customer and community news – judging by the hit rate this is something which has been hugely valued.
As part of our regular colleague communications, we also launched a new email campaign aptly titled, “Wellbeing Weekly”! It provides information, support and tools for colleagues around our four pillars of wellbeing; mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing. Every week around 750 colleagues enjoy the read and contribute topics to help each other. We’ve tried to tailor the content around what our people are telling us they need and value, so we provide practical tips and in depth reads.
So far we’ve covered challenging topics like coping with loss, looking after children while working from home, nutrition, and tips on how to look after yourself whilst adjusting to a new way of working. We’ve also enjoyed more light hearted content, such as ideas for Harry Potter inspired virtual meetings backgrounds! It’s been important to us that we emotionally support colleagues, but find moments to have fun too.
To supplement our wellbeing communications, each week we’ve hosted a variety of guest speakers, all delivered virtually through Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Our webinar sessions are recorded and hosted on our intranet, allowing colleagues to access them live, or at a time that suits them.
These are unusual times, so we decided to focus our efforts on helping colleagues to cope and adapt and stay healthy at this time. Our guest speakers encouraged colleagues to try something new, find alternative tools or see something from a different perspective. So far we’ve had mindfulness sessions, nutritional talks, yoga and other exercise workouts and tips for managing finances, just to name a few.
We’re really proud that our colleagues rate their Line Manager relationships highly in our monthly engagement survey, Chatterbox. But we also recognise that sometimes having somewhere else, or someone else to turn to is just as important. That’s why since March, Simplyhealth’s 50 Mental Health First Aider’s, have been hosting a weekly virtual “coffee-morning”, inviting anyone to come along for a chat to feel better connected. Every effort has been made to ensure all colleagues – not just those that may live alone – do not feel isolated.
At a time when we’ve been more physically distant, maintaining a sense of community has been incredibly important to us at Simplyhealth. That’s why in early May we created a new private Facebook group for our colleagues called “Simplyhealth Social”. Every two weeks we’ve undertaken a series of different team challenges, to keep us healthy and bring us together, but in the process also help support our local communities too. Our 30 min movement challenge proved to be a big hit, with some fantastic social posts involving TikTok videos, hoola hooping, horse riding and YouTube workouts. For this tremendous effort we raised £17,620 for the Mental Health Foundation.
My personal favourite has been our Simplyhealth’s Got Talent competition, where as a judge, I saw an incredible selection of artists, musicians, photographers and cake bakers! All were willing to showcase their talent in order to entertain their colleagues, raise a smile and win a donation for a charity close to their hearts. Showing that we’re there for each other has strengthened relationships and bought us together as one Simplyhealth team.
For our colleagues to work comfortably from home, we wanted to invest in a fund they could use for the practical things, while away from the office. They had the personal choice to use their “£200 kit allowance” in a way that would add the most benefit to their overall health and wellbeing and productivity. 62% of colleagues have already taken advantage and invested in items ranging from desks, chairs, monitors and additional accessories. Putting our colleagues in control of their own health has meant they’ve spent carefully and wisely, buying what’s right for them and their own home set up.
As we continue to work from home over the coming months there are likely to be some additional costs around heating and lighting your home work space through the winter. From October 1st to March 31st 2021 all colleagues who are working from home, will be provided with a monthly tax free allowance of £26 to contribute towards these additional costs. We have decided on this amount as it means we are able to pay it to colleagues through their payroll, without needing to incur any additional tax or NI deductions.
The last six months has taken its toll on everyone across the UK and has fundamentally changed the way we work and live. So in order to equip and support our colleagues for the journey ahead, in September 2020 we launched our brand new Health and Wellbeing programme – ENERGISE YOU. With this significant investment we’re taking a more long term view of supporting our colleagues’ personal health and wellbeing.
We’ve partnered with 1992 Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell OBE, to deliver a bespoke series of virtual events that’ll span the next 9 months.
The ultimate aim is to help every single Simplyhealth colleague to take control of their own health and wellbeing. Whatever their personal goals or ambitions, with our support we can help colleagues to make them a reality. Our colleagues will do this using their personal wellness journal and action plan. We’ve already undertaken an in depth survey to understand how we can best help and where to start. We can’t wait to share more highlights as the programme develops.
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