2019 focus on wellbeing: Empowering our employees to self-care

By Laura French, Director of Organisational Change & Development

With a passion for people, NYS Meetings and Events together with Capita Travel and Events have created a wellness strategy aimed at empowering its employees to take control of their lives, by providing the right tools and encouragement to look after themselves, their colleagues and their travellers. I’d like to share more about the positive progress we have made and the essential changes we’re continuing to make in supporting the wellbeing of our employees.

In July 2018 we launched our first Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) programme with an awareness campaign called #thisisme in collaboration with Matt Holman, our Head of Traveller Experience, and founder of Simpila Healthy Solutions. We now also have 24 qualified MHFA champions across our UK offices.

Throughout 2018, we launched initiatives such as awareness videos, signposts to mental health support and a training programme for managers to best support their teams.

We trialled numerous wellness initiatives, including healthy meetings, competitions and increased levels of fitness by having spin bikes readily available to use in the workplace. We also held office ‘Spinathons’ in partnership with Jamie Hunter, National Account Manager at Village Hotels.

We introduced free fruit in all our offices and displayed behavioural nudges, which offered suggestions to maintaining a healthy body and mind. These included things like drinking more water, walking up the stairs as opposed to using the lifts (if possible), easy desk exercises, walk and talk meetings, meditation, and drawing. This was all in collaboration with our existing MHFA support and social teams, and it’s no surprise that almost 16% of employees agree that they’ve made healthier lifestyle choices because of their company’s wellness program (Aflac).

What has become more apparent is that, whilst having MHFA support in the workplace as fundamental, it’s not enough to support employees’ overall wellbeing. If we are to empower our employees to ‘want to’ self-care, then employers must consider all aspects of wellbeing, not just the mental element. This would be by taking a more holistic approach to the needs of physical, social, emotional and spiritual parts of wellbeing.

We’re now in the process of raising the awareness of all aspects of wellbeing as a whole, having recently partnered with Laila Datoo (Life Coach) at a Life More Mindful and Laura Capell-Abra (Life Coach) at Stress Matters, who have shared their insights and expertise in all things ‘wellness’. They are also supporting our approach to creating an employee wellness programme that is meaningful, all-inclusive and the right fit for Capita Travel and Events.

We’re looking forward to the year ahead and feel quite proud of how far we’ve come. We remain committed to creating better outcomes for our employees and travellers by having a strong focus on employee wellbeing.

Employees in the workplace can often feel stressed and under pressure, leading to factors relating poor mental health. The fact that a CareerCast Survey cited ‘event professional’ as being the 5th most stressful job in the world reiterates the importance of wellbeing in the travel and events industry further, and why professional groups dedicated to wellbeing, such as Eventwell and Stress Matters, were needed in the UK.

The continued awareness of our traveller and delegate wellbeing continues to be of importance to us. Traveller wellbeing is a key component of Smarter working proposition – as important as traditional benefits, such as narrow cost reductions. As we deliver this proposition for customers, we continue to ask ourselves what we could do to better support employees and encourage more self-care in the workplace. We are issuing surveys to identify common anxieties, so we can influence behaviour change to minimise these and boost Smarter working, not only internally, but for our customers.

No business can afford to ignore this issue. According to Career Builder, the top five stress symptoms causing missed work days are constant fatigue (29%); sleeplessness (26%); aches and pains (24%); high anxiety (23%) and weight gain (18%). If you’ve got an ineffective workforce due to lack of wellbeing and self-care support, employees just won’t perform to the best of their ability.

We all need to focus on building a healthy organisation with healthy employees – and that means healthy minds as much as healthy bodies.