November heralded the start of a new initiative within the Steps office: Wellvember. Not to be confused with Movember (!), the idea was for the month of November to focus our thinking every day on things – big or small – that contributed to the health and wellbeing of all members of the Steps team. Each person took responsibility for one day within the month and arranged an activity. As much as possible, we were encouraged to choose activities which our remote workers would also be able to join in with. Having only recently joined the Steps team, I am constantly learning new skills and adapting to the way that Steps works. For me, the introduction of Wellvember was intriguing and a totally new experience for me and I was looking forward to joining in with all the different ideas people were going to offer.
Over the month we shared a range of activities from a group walking to a local park during their lunch hour, smoothie drinking day, a chocolate fondue feast with fruit, a game of ‘Pass on Charades’ which we managed to play over Skype with our remote workers, a slipper day, short exercises focussing on mind, body and soul, a brunch buffet, mindfulness exercises, giving to charity and a day where no smiling or laughter was allowed with in the office – the forfeit was a fine with the money going to charity. Needless to say the charity did well.
To me, Wellvember was an inspired idea and seemed to embody the ethos of Steps. Inspiring people to act differently is at the heart of Stepss philosophy and many of the exercises and activities that we explored during November encouraged us to look at things in a different way and to break from our normal routine within the office. Not only were many of the activities beneficial to people’s health and wellbeing but it gave colleagues opportunity to come together in a different way and spend quality time with each other. The activities did not impact upon the working day and in fact they enhanced the mood of all those in the office. The change from routine also facilitated the opportunity to bring a fresh perspective to an individual’s work, often opening up their mind to new possibilities and giving them space to come up with creative solutions. This is hugely beneficial to many companies, including Steps where creativity and new ideas are essential.
In 2011 the government commissioned Dame Carol Black and David Frost to look at the effects of illness within the workplace: ‘Health at Work – An Independent Review of Sickness Absence’ (access the full report by clicking here). Every year 140 billion days are lost to sickness absence costing the economy £15 billion a year. A caring work environment where individual’s health needs are taken in to account can only contribute to an all round wellbeing of the individual and their ability to work.
It seems to make sense that looking after your workforce will enable your company to sustain growth, retain employees and just generally make for a much better work environment. On an even simpler level, a happy work environment promotes happy workers – and studies have indicated that happiness makes people more productive at work giving an all round benefit to any business. (See – http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/new_study_shows/)
This all seems perfectly logical but Steps is the first company where I have truly experienced this level of care towards an employee – and I feel this is reflection of Steps as a business and as a whole. The links between employee wellbeing and engagement and customer satisfaction and wellbeing are well documented – and Wellvember gave us the chance to reflect on the role we each play in taking care of eachother and our clients and projects.
What are your views on employee wellbeing and how has your business responded to this shift in focus, where employees are positioned at the heart of the business?