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Top companies supporting employee wellbeing during COVID-19


Wellbeing, or wellness, is a state of being where you, as an individual, generally feel in a good place. This can be physical, mental, emotional… it comes in many forms, each as important as the next. The importance of employee wellbeing is crucial for a business to not only succeed but fundamentally to survive! 

According to new research from Wazoku, 70 percent of UK survey respondents said their employer has taken steps to ensure their mental health and well-being is addressed and 72 percent have been consulted about how best they can all approach home working during the crisis. UK businesses have mostly made great efforts to keep their employees engaged and motivated, in what is the most challenging and uncertain time that most of us have ever faced. 

The sudden adoption of remote working across the globe has altered our working practices in unimaginable ways and been the biggest test for businesses everywhere. Beyond the technical transitions, people are struggling with isolation and uncertainty, childcare, motivation and in the most difficult circumstances - even grief. 

In response, many organisations have taken time to create positive remote corporate cultures and support networks for their employees to help with mental and physical wellbeing. The top five supportive measures were identified as follows: regular one-to-one calls, specific best-practice tips and guidance on working from home, daily company-wide video calls, subscriptions to online video conferencing software such as Zoom or Teams and virtual team lunches.

Read our blog on the importance of employee wellbeing here.

We at SmartPA believe that people are businesses' greatest commodity and they need to be put first above all else. From financial aid to counselling, we have been very impressed by the overwhelming generosity of some companies to their employees. To give kudos to our fellow people-centric organisations, here are some of our top companies that have gone above and beyond to support employee wellbeing during the dreaded C word.

  1. Workday, a California-based IT giant, announced it would provide the equivalent of two-weeks’ pay to cover costs implicated by having to work from home. They also established a relief fund to help those in need of additional support, such as those who personally, or whose family members contracted COVID-19. As part of Workday’s benefits programme, it offers childcare provision and to support employees, it upped the offering to support working parents. 
  2. The Bank of Ireland increased employee access to its wellness program, which includes an app hosting online seminars and interactive courses on mental, physical and financial health. 
  3. Buffer, the social media tool, has encouraged total transparency when it comes to emotions. They encourage their employees to share the highs and the lows so that collectively they can share in success and support during difficult times. CEO Joel Gascoigne has openly shared his own dark days and has even tweeted about times he has felt overwhelmed and gained the support of a therapist. The company provides access to online therapists for its entire remote workforce along with free subscriptions to health and wellbeing app Joyable. The most honourable offering that Buffer has is the emphasis on preventative measures by allowing employees to take ‘Unsick Days’ which can be used when employees feel overwhelmed and sense that a deeper problem could occur if this is not tackled. This support, in a world where mental health is still misunderstood, is a refreshing measure to supporting employee wellbeing. 
  4. Technology firm HP encouraged working parents to take this opportunity to play a more active role in steering their children’s learning, and supported this by creating online resources and fun learning activities for children.
  5. Similarly supporting working parents, Skyscanner have introduced a 3 hour company-wide stop between 12 and 3pm. This has allowed parents to spend the afternoon educating children, or to simply be able to enjoy a longer lunch break and return revitalised to the last couple of hours of the working day. 
  6. Global PR company Weber Shandwick, have taken an active approach to keeping employees motivated with its We Stand Together initiative. Colleagues from around the world collaboratively host a live workout video, training session or yoga class to help foster a sense of connection and community.  
  7. We must include the efforts taken by The New York Times advertising department, who held a virtual pet parade where employees could down tools to showcase their fur babies. This is a light-hearted energiser that we fully endorse and look forward to trialling at SmartPA!
  8. Last, but by no means least, is ourselves at SmartPA. We’re not in the business of blowing our own trumpet, but when it comes to culture and supporting our people, we’ve taken great lengths to ensure we are leading from the front. With remote working being our bread and butter, the transition to the home workplace was relatively smooth. Regardless, constant communication and team check-ins have been our main source of ensuring positivity and support. We also encourage freedom and flexibility which helps our employees to mould their day to be as productive as it can be. Most businesses work in a 9-5 capacity, but this is not preferable for everyone. We believe that you must manage your energy - not your time, and as a result you should work in short bursts when you feel most productive and then take time to recharge when you feel your energy dipping. 

One of the ways we have supported re-energising is through weekly yoga sessions. This gives the team a chance to switch off, relax and return to work feeling revitalised. 

To round off the week, we always commit to Fizz Fridays! This is a great opportunity to recognise successes, reflect on challenges and finish the week in a fun, light-hearted way. 

Our people are at the core of our business and supporting their mental and physical well-being as well as offering fun team activities is essential to company-wide success.

Whilst the above examples of various wellbeing initiatives do demonstrate that more and more businesses recognise the positive outcomes of adopting them, many companies still focus solely on improving the bottom line and don’t view employee wellbeing as a key factor. Businesses often introduce wellbeing initiatives because they want to do the right thing and contribute to supporting happier lives. They rarely realise that happy, productive and loyal employees are also a significant factor for company success. 

The research into the connection between wellbeing and company performance continues to rise, especially so in these times where organisations across the globe are seeing the value first hand. The evidence of investing in your people is pretty conclusive; employee wellbeing has a critical impact on numerous areas of business performance, not just culture. Happy people = happy clients!