The average UK worker will spend 82,086 hours working over their lifetime, according to DPG Plc (CIPD course providers). Imagine if those 82,086 hours are spent in an environment that is mentally, emotionally, and physically draining. This would have massive effects for both the person and the business, such as work-life conflict, work task stress, decreased productivity, life dissatisfaction, and job dissatisfaction.
I come from a psychology background and, as the HR & Talent Manager at Ampersand, it is really important to me that we do everything we can to make even a few of those 82,086 hours of work a positive contribution towards physical and psychological health. To get us on that track, we’ve implemented a few new initiatives that focus on office wellbeing.
To ensure I was focusing on wellbeing initiatives that everyone wanted to see and not just charging forward with ideas that I alone thought would be beneficial, I started the process by collating feedback. Every year, Ampersand invests in an employee engagement survey developed by Best Companies. Through scientific research, they’ve determined that employee engagement falls into 8 main factors.
Off the back of the survey results, I conducted several focus groups with the wider business to dive deeper into the Best Companies results and ensure Ampersand focused on the right factors of engagement. By the end of the focus groups, the number one priority factor to focus on was Wellbeing.
Reuben, our Front End Developer, explained why he loved being a part of the focus groups: “[I was able] to voice my issues and not feel like I was being laughed at and looked down upon. I could get a ‘straight-to-the-point’ answer that both ticked the box and helped me.”
One of our Project Managers, Martha, put it quite simply: “[The focus groups were great to enable us] to share our opinions and see them get actioned.”
Although this step could have been seen as time-consuming, it drove the change the business needed.
What We Did
Off the back of the focus groups, I rallied a group of volunteers to have dedicated time to turn some of the focus group feedback into practical recommendations and ultimately real change for the business. We broke down our ideas into Projects and Quick Wins.
The Quicks Wins are ideas that were implemented quickly to increase wellbeing on a daily basis. Our quick wins included:
- Office plants – Not only did we buy plants for the office area in general, but we also partnered with Flourish for an Adopt-A-Plant initiative. Employees were able to pick out and care for their very own desk plant. James, Service Desk Support Analyst and volunteer for the wellbeing group, loved this Quick Win: “My favourite initiative has definitely been adopting my plant, Tropicana. Brings a nice bit of greenery to the desk.”
- Weekly fruit deliveries – We’ve started adding a big fruit haul to our weekly shops. During a time of year full of holiday treats and baked goods, it’s great to have some healthy options as well.
- Office clean-out – Ampersand has desperately needed a bit of spring (in our case, autumn and winter) cleaning. To give us more space for storage, we donated about 20 monitors and 20 towers to a computer recycling company in Manchester. Getting rid of our outdated tech enabled us to rearrange and detox the office. Our Office Manager, Ellen, who was crucial in implementing the Quick Wins, mentioned how the “general office tidy up and the plants have made a huge difference, they make the office feel a lot more welcoming.”
- Standing desks – We ordered a few standing desks equipped with monitors and cables. This is a great way for anyone in the office to change up their work environment while increasing physical health. Win-win!
- Office yoga & meditation – During our Self Care Week in November, we invited a yoga and meditation professional to run a few 75 minutes sessions in the office. This is not a one-and-done initiative, though! The feedback on the session was very positive and something we hope to do on a quarterly basis.
- Ampersand Library – Wellbeing doesn’t only refer to working out and eating healthy. It also refers to challenging yourself and learning new things, both professionally and personally. This is why we’ve added a new breakout space to the office, our own little Ampersand Library! This is a space where employees can kick back and read from our selection of donated books.
- #MindMonth – Another quick win involved doing more initiatives revolved around mental health. With this in mind, we began 2019 with our #MindMonth. We’ve partnered with Manchester Mind to host a different mental health awareness activity every Wednesday. On 9th January, we hosted a Lunch & Learn where we watched Sarah Knight’s Ted Talk on The Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, followed by a discussion around setting boundaries for yourself and mentally de-cluttering. On the 17th January, we had a Bake Sale. Who doesn’t love a little sugar for a good cause? Throughout the rest of the month, we will be hosting a Play Day, a Games Tournament, and a wrap up/reflection Lunch & Learn. Our goal is to not only support wellbeing in the workplace but actively create opportunities to talk about it and learn more.
Overall, our Quick Wins have added a bit of life and energy to the office and encourage our employees to make sure they stay physically and mentally healthy on a day to day basis.
Although the Quick Wins were a great way to see change relatively quickly, we’ve also focused on a few Projects. Projects are the wellness initiatives that are ongoing, will involve more time and resources to implement, and truly focus on those areas that Ampersand could be doing even better.
Our first Project involved updating and being more transparent about flexible working. We’ve just released a new Flexible Working policy company-wide that breaks down core hours, working from home, and individual flexible working requests in a way that is digestible, yet informative.
The Wellbeing volunteers were integral in creating this new policy. We were able to think through as a group what was essential to see in this policy as well as any implications of changes that would affect both the employees and the business.
Now that we’ve had the opportunity to refresh our office space, update our flexible working policies, and bring in a few yoga and meditation session to be more conducive to positive wellbeing, the next step is focusing on mental health in the workplace.
As mentioned, we are currently in the midst of our #MindMonth. Not only does this month have fun opportunities to kick back and learn more about wellbeing, but we will also be releasing a new Wellbeing at Work policy that outlines to our employees how we support wellbeing in the workplace, both in terms of physical health and mental health. Along with a new policy, we will be releasing a platform with wellbeing at work resources and looking into mental health awareness training and other mental health outlets for our employees.
Although we’ve made big strides this year in the wellbeing factor, our work is far from over. Workplace wellbeing is not a one-time thing to focus on; it’s a commitment to our employees to ensure they have an opportunity to be their happiest and healthiest self.
Our ultimate goal is to continue to tackle workplace factors that may negatively affect wellbeing and promote a culture where those 82,086 hours of work are not increasing stress, but instead, increasing purpose, commitment to health, and an overall better work-life balance.