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09 Sep 2022

How Simplyhealth is supporting the health and wellbeing of its employees

Simplyhealth outlines its approach to its own employees' health and wellbeing

Case study: how Simplyhealth is supporting the health and wellbeing its employeesmain.jpg

 

We have been developing an employee wellbeing strategy since 2020 to support various aspects of its employees’ wellbeing such as: physical, mental, financial, spiritual and social. As with many organisations, changes to the company’s wellbeing agenda were fast-tracked by the country’s spiralling mental health crisis pre-Covid, then taken to new levels by the impact of the pandemic.

In order to formulate an effective strategy, it surveyed its people and tracked data themes from calls coming through their employee assistance programme (EAP) reporting low mood. Both have been instrumental in forming the foundation of its strategy and is the starting point for every event and activity it has carried out.

Health and wellbeing survey

Simplyhealth’s starting point was to listen and capture an accurate portrayal of a variety of aspects of its employees’ wellbeing including their state of mind, financial, physical, spiritual and social wellbeing. In 2020 and 2021 it sent a health and wellbeing survey out to almost 1,000 employees and received 79% and 63% return respectively. 

Health and wellbeing culture

The culture at Simplyhealth is firmly entrenched in the foundation of health and wellbeing. This applies not just to colleagues, but also to customers and communities.

Having recently reassessed its values: All together healthier; courage and curiosity; and trust and kindness. These are the backbone of its culture. Employees are incentivised financially through a recognition platform called LOVE. This stands for Living Our Values Everyday.

Evidence of a culture based on health and wellbeing

Embedded within the organisation’s business functions is a network of 58 Mental Health First Aiders. These people are trained through programmes accredited by MHFA England, and their presence, ability to spot distress and the spirit they convey sums up the culture of support for employee health and wellbeing.

Deep friendships within the company have resulted in a supportive and caring culture, based on trust and compassion. It only takes a new joiner to the Simply Social Facebook group (over 550 followers) to sense the deep feeling of belonging and togetherness bound up in the company.

The company delivers extensive interactive learning sessions to dial up key areas such as physical fitness, nutrition and sleep. An eight month ‘Energise You’ programme with British athlete Sally Gunnel resonated through the company, with 450 people attending one of the webinars (whether live or via catch-up).

Caring about colleagues is integral to the culture and ‘Meet Free Wednesdays’ are a good example of giving people an opportunity to take a break from screens.

Pandemic impact

The pandemic was a clear driver for change and has defined new ways of working. Simplyhealth’s response was to assign a leader to take responsibility for the health and wellbeing of their colleagues and fast-track the work that was already underway on mental health.

The critical need for support became apparent with a rise in EAP calls. During the first four months of the pandemic, EAP calls increased from 74 to 220.

Survey results have shown the business that working from home has increased stress, anxiety and depression among colleagues and has become a real priority to support. These areas accounted for 39% of days lost in 2020. The reality of burnout as a result of working from home is also known outcome recognised by the organisation. Mental health awareness training throughout the business saw an improvement in conversations around workload challenges.

Opening conversations

To ensure relevant information is readily available for all employees, the company keeps its up-to-date health and wellbeing policies on its intranet. 

A magazine called ‘Feelgood Fortnightly’ was released through lockdown and this addressed health and wellbeing topics which corresponded with the national agenda such as home-schooling and teenage anxiety.

Simplyhealth colleague Facebook pages were developed at the start of lockdown to keep the community alive. This has proved to bring great benefits, driving charitable donations based on individual and family challenges. It has also been used as a forum to share difficulties.

An ‘employee experience manager’ was hired to help it understand the different challenges felt at the various lifecycles from hire to retire. It wishes to ensure that the end-to-end colleague experience is as engaging and stimulating as possible.

What does the future hold?

More wellbeing events

Simplyhealth is planning on a proactive programme of wellbeing events . Desk-based experiences will be incorporated into office schedules such as at-desk massages, mini medicals, flu jabs, physio treatments and Vitamin B tests.

Team meet-ups and events off-site are a clear objective for the future so teams are able to enjoy time face-to-face.

There’s a deep desire within the company to look ahead to every lifecycle stage and help colleagues in a deeper way. Not just the direct experiences of individuals who work for the company, but the reverberations felt as a result of their home circumstances such as ageing parents or coping with dementia at home.

Charity work and volunteering 

There are many plans to fund match for the wider communities as people raise money for charities. The 2021 achieved total of matched funding was £36,475 (impacted by the pandemic). The target budget for 2025 is £100,000.

Volunteering is an area that the company wants to elevate further and has plans to engage more of its colleagues with a volunteering platform. This allows people to take paid time off from their jobs and give back to society as this makes everyone feel they have a meaningful purpose. The number of volunteering days that Simplyhealth ‘donates’ each year to charities is targeted to reach 3,700 hours in 2025.

The unknown future

Simplyhealth is aware that there will be unpredictable challenges in the future which derive from people having avoided going to their GP. It will be ready to respond in any way necessary to support these uncertain outcomes.

 

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