How wellbeing initiatives have boosted employee engagement post-pandemic

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The uptake in employee wellbeing initiatives has increased since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and does not appear to be slowing down.

According to Aon’s Benefits & Trends Survey 2021, 37% of HR professionals said they plan on increasing their wellbeing spend post-pandemic.

Banking company Capital One’s approach to employee mental health in the past year won them an award for best mental health strategy in the workplace.

Presented by mental health support campaign This Can Happen, the award recognised the company’s approach towards positive mental health for their employees and colleagues.

Emma Allen, head of equality diversion and inclusion at Capital One, said over the past 12-months the company has launched two new initiatives to unify its mental health goals.

She told HR magazine: “The Thrive at Work programme and the Be You campaign were designed to unify efforts across the business, while embedding a culture of inclusivity and understanding of mental health and wellbeing. 

“Thrive at Work developed from a desire to create an integrated approach to mental health wellbeing.

“We wanted to foster a culture that enables positive mental health, encourages open discussion and makes it easy for people to access help and support when they need it.”

Through Thrive at Work, the people team introduced people leader awareness workshops to ensure they are well supported to in-turn support employees. 

Allen explained: "A key part of the work was about ensuring inclusive conversations become the norm.

"We encouraged flexible working and implemented new inclusive family leave arrangements. We also made improvements to how we record and monitor health data to help develop insights to inform better decision making."

The Be You campaign supports the Thrive at Work agenda by delivering wellbeing resources to associates across four pillars; social, physical, financial and mental wellbeing.

Allen said the HR team is proud of the culture it has created through the initiatives.

“People start meetings with honest conversations about how they feel each day and have access to our wonderful Mind Your Mind network to talk more deeply about things that matter to their mental health.

The network is actively involved in informing decision making and producing resources. Led by our HR Shared Services team, delivering this strategy is a massive team effort and we’re excited to think about how we can progress the Thrive at Work programme into the future.”

Following a Mental Health Awareness Week campaign with group therapy sessions and talks by mindfulness leaders, Allen said 86% of employees had an improved understanding of mental health resources and over 160 managers attended Mental Health awareness sessions.

Allen added that prioritising employee health and wellbeing is critical to people achieving their full potential at work.

She said: “Mental health is something we are all talking about more in recent years, but it remains a difficult and emotional topic for lots of people.

“If organisations can create safe spaces for their employees to discuss ways to stay well and how to get help quickly when it’s needed, then hopefully fewer people will reach crisis point.”

Sonia Morgan, Capital One’s HR director, said HR has a vital role to play when protecting workers wellbeing.

She told HR magazine: “We partner with trusted organisations that help us achieve our aspirations in enabling our associates to thrive at work.

“Our strategy has been designed to increase utilisation of benefits that support wellbeing putting the associates at the heart of our strategy rather than purely cost to the business.

The team leverages data and market trends to ensure they are sourcing benefits that add real value to the lives of employees.

“The inclusion of transgender support, fertility treatment and enhanced mental health policy, along with the introduction of YuLife’s wellbeing tools are an example of where our strategy offers more than the standard corporate wellness programme,” she explained.