Resident PT, Chris Pinner, shares his findings on how the leading companies invest in workplace well-being and suggests specific ideas on how you could apply this research in your own workplace right now.
This week is part one of the two-part article Workplace Wellbeing: What and How do Leaders Invest.
What Do Leaders Offer?
Off-the-shelf benefits and medical insurance are not enough. The range of activities leaders offer varies as much as the type of staff they benefit, including:
- Away days (e.g. trips abroad, zorbing)
- Classes (e.g. yoga, fitness)
- Challenges (e.g. walking)
- Lunch & learns (e.g. stress, nutrition)
- Goodies & giveaways (e.g. iWatches, branded water-bottles)
- Group workshops (e.g. pregnancy, meditation)
- Ongoing tips (e.g. via weekly newsletter)
- Regular leagues (e.g. football, netball)
- Subsidised (healthy) food
But don’t infer this variety means an ad hoc approach! Leaders plan ahead to mix it up and keep employees engaged, whilst listening and learning inform what activities to offer next.
How Do Leaders Deliver?
Perhaps more important than what is delivered is how it is done.
Leaders have a well-being strategy. We found that strategy informs well-being calendar decisions up to 6 months ahead and invariably follows an A-B-C approach:
Appropriate – No two people or workplaces are the same. Leaders listen to what everyone wants using surveys, focus groups and conversation and deliver it when it counts (e.g. Stress workshops during Mental Health Awareness Week).
Belief – No pretending or box ticking. Leaders in well-being truly believe in the power of physical and mental well-being, flowing from management through to every level of the company.
Consistency – No ‘plug n’ play’ tactics or last-minute rushing. Leaders plan 3-6 months ahead and have regular communications to back it up. Weekly baseline activities (e.g. classes, newsletters) are backed up with special one-offs (e.g. Sports Day, Competitions) and all are measured and refined over time.
So where have these insights come from, and what does a leader actually look like?
LEON is a chain of healthy fast-food restaurants aiming to make it easier for everyone to eat well and live well, including their team of more than 1000 staff. LEON is synonymous with health so, to an extent, wellbeing is built into its offering. Their 6 well-being principles ensure they bring that vision to life.
- Classes (e.g. yoga, wing-tsun, fitness)
- Off-site events (e.g. ‘Eat Well, Live Well’ day with workshops and activities, football tournaments and sports days)
- Training studio / ‘Kwoon’
- 1-1 sessions with Mindset Coach Vida Scannell
- Other (e.g. meal on every shift)
Vida Scannell (LEON, Well-being) says:
“At LEON, our mission is to make it easier for people to eat well and live well. This means our teams, as well as our customers.”
“Wellbeing is part of everything we do at Leon. In restaurants, in the office, for team members, restaurant managers, everyone, every day.”
Speaking about what makes LEON’s wellbeing unique, Vida says “it starts with the team. What do they need? How can we provide them with the tools to be able to live well? In a physically demanding industry where people work long hours, start early and finish late, we feel it is important to do our best to help people live well and feel happy inside.”
Talking about how LEON’s wellbeing offer is inclusive Vida says “all new joiners attend a compulsory training event, Eat Well Live Well, where they learn about healthy eating and how to be your best self. Our culture is built on positivity and openness – we celebrate our people with GOBs (Glimpse of Brilliance). It is as much about the way we are with each other every day as well as the extra offerings – wellbeing classes, events and festivals that we run throughout the year.”
Innocent is a healthy drinks company of 300 people, aiming to make it easy for people to do themselves some good (whilst making it taste nice too). Innocent ranked #3 in the Sunday Times Top 100 in 2018.
- Away days
- Lunch & learn workshops
- Environment (e.g. communal picnic area)
- Events & one-offs
- Training studio on-site
- Trips abroad (e.g. Spain)
Innocent’s Culture Team work with the purpose ‘to help people work better and go home happier’. They organise internal events and a packed lunch & learn schedule covering a range of topics.
The office set up makes casual conversation easy and Friday drinks (complete with table-tennis) regularly get an awesome attendance.
As an insurance, health and protection company it is no surprise that Aviva is a leader in workplace well-being. Its core well-being team of 4 people work closely with over 300 ‘Health Heroes’ to care for thousands of Aviva colleagues across the UK.
- Ambassadors (Health Heroes)
- Classes (e.g. fitness, dance, running, walking, music)
- Environment (e.g. long cables so people can walk when on the phone, desk pedals, stand up meetings as part of On Your Feet Britain)
- Wellbeing space / wellbeing village on-site (e.g. music room, fitness room)
- Other (e.g. Headspace app for free)
Aviva’s well-being strategy spans 4 pillars:
- Be healthy
- Be mindful
- Be secure (currently focusing on financial wellbeing)
- Be awesome (e.g. feel good by doing good)
A dedicated central team oversees group efforts and empowers a network of over 300 local ‘Health Heroes’ to deliver the needs of each teams. As Elliott Tomlie (Health Hero) describes: “our Health Heroes are crucial for delivery because they know what works with their teams”.
Speaking at an event on workplace well-being, Elliot explains: “it’s the small stuff people talk about that makes the biggest difference. Walking clubs can be free but have a massive impact; way more than off-the-shelf benefits packages”.
We asked Debbie Bullock, wellbeing lead at Aviva UK for her top 3 tips on designing an awesome well-being offer, the she responded: “It’s all about being bold, brave and leverage what you’ve got. Don’t be afraid to take action and make the most of ambassadors, data and your existing business.”
“You don’t need a massive budget, just be smart about it”.
“Aviva’s well-being strategy is as much ‘bottom-up’ as it is ‘top-down’. It works so well because everyone at Aviva knows we’re committed to well-being. To work it needs to be at least a 2-5 year strategy and beyond, finding ways to offer appropriate activities for all employees.”
If you are thinking about well-being in your workplace, take inspiration from the ideas shared in this article and try applying the A-B-C framework in how you deliver. Maybe your workplace will be the next to lead the way…
If you think your company should be added to this list to help others learn from what you do then please get in touch. We have inevitably missed off some great workplaces (Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, Google, Mercer to name a few). Equally, smaller players in The Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work For or Vitality’s Healthiest Workplaces list are well worth a look.
Likewise, if you would like to chat about workplace well-being then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next week we’ll be sharing part two of Workplace Wellbeing: What and How Do Leaders Invest, featuring further leaders in the field and a discussion as to why it’s so important.