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Insights Putting wellbeing at the heart of our employee strategy

Jilly Calder, VP Human Resources, shares why she is passionate about health and wellness. Sharing details on how even small interventions around awareness and behaviours can deliver significant benefits to both employees and businesses.

this is an image of Jilly smiling

Reflecting on Stress Awareness Month from April and this year I believe it’s even more important to recognise it as the pandemic has undoubtedly raised stress levels for many of us. In fact, an ONS survey showed that 89% of adults felt their wellbeing had been affected by coronavirus, particularly stress and anxiety.

So, at Atkins we feel it’s important we continue to build a strong wellbeing culture and strategy for our employees.

As an organisation, we have for some time recognised the value and importance of having a progressive and sustainable wellbeing strategy. The benefits of having a strong wellbeing culture are clear: healthy, happy employees are productive employees; having wellbeing as part of our employee value proposition helps us attract and retain the best talent; and it reduces the financial cost of wellness related issues. The cost of poor mental health based on a 11,000-employee engineering sector company is estimated to be £20,000,000 per annum.

The strategy we have built takes into account external feedback (Britain’s Healthiest Workplace Survey) as well as our own employee engagement surveys (Vox) and HR data to ensure what we put into place is grounded in science, fact and what our people need.

This approach has helped us to identify three key areas of focus: physical health, mental health and financial wellbeing.

Through a focus on these three areas, Atkins’ aspiration is to create a sustainable culture of health and wellbeing in the workplace, which we believe is best achieved by implementing more preventative health and wellbeing measures. We are progressively transforming our offering. Whilst still recognising the need and value reactive offerings such as gym discounts, occupational health, Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) and EAP (Employee Assistance Programmes) have to offer, we are looking to invest in more preventative and resilience-building wellbeing solutions.

In recent times we have seen our organisation role out tools in the Physical Health space such as Digital GP, Flu vaccinations as well as running corporate fitness challenges through online Apps such as United Heroes.

2021 will be the year we launch a suite of tools in the UK and Europe around providing awareness and preventative support in both the Mental Health (Happify) and Financial Health (Mercer Money) space.

We are delighted to be working with Happify who will be providing our employees later this year with an Interactive Mental Health platform. Happify is a behavioural change technology company that drives personal, business, and healthcare outcomes through improved emotional health. It features science-based activities and games that tackle topics such as resilience and mindfulness, as well as conditions ranging from depression and anxiety to chronic pain and insomnia. 

Mercer Money is a financial education and wellness portal that not only provides personalised education and nudges to engage people in topics that are relevant to their individual circumstances but also provides practical tools to help them act on this new knowledge. Using the latest open banking technology, Mercer Money learns from the financial transactional data to become even more relevant to the individual, offering tools to better manage their money.

The shift towards awareness and preventative wellbeing measures recognises that mental and physical health issues are there all the time – they may be in a good or bad place, but they are always present. We need to work hard to change the attitude around wellbeing, particularly mental health, removing the stigma and making positive health an aspiration for everyone.

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to wellbeing and employees want a more personalised approach. People also need to be motivated and empowered to take on personal responsibility for their wellbeing – companies can provide tools and support, but they can’t own wellbeing, that’s for the individual to do.

As we continue on our journey to provide the support people need for their wellbeing, I’d love to hear what your organisation is doing and any thoughts and feedback on how we can do more to impact this very important area of people’s lives.