The past 24 months have had a transformative impact on how and where we work and what we consider meaningful in our lives. Setting aside time to reconnect with ourselves, our loved ones, or those passions in life that make us unique has become a higher priority for many New Zealanders.
Perhaps, it’s appropriate that the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (September 26 to October 2) is to reconnect with the people and places that lift you up, hei pikinga waiora.
As I reflect on this theme, it’s hugely encouraging to see that after so much uncertainty, prioritising employee’s mental health and wellbeing is now an integral part of many workplace cultures throughout New Zealand.
putting employee wellbeing first - how we support our people
Perhaps, as a sign of the times, in Randstad’s 2022 Employer Brand Research, work-life balance was confirmed as the single most important priority for New Zealanders when it comes to choosing where to work, for the second year running. Something that we are also very aware of within our own business, when it comes to supporting the needs of our people.
One thing that is true for us, as it is for many organisations, work life balance is personal and different for everyone. With this in mind, we actively avoid allocating a set number of ‘in office’ days as we appreciate that everyone has different circumstances.
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We established what we call an Anchor Day during the week, we encourage everyone to come together in person with a focus on connection and collaboration. We encourage as many of our people to join us every Wednesday and the only ‘rule’ is to power down the laptop. Instead, we arrange opportunities to connect over morning teas, team sharing and coaching, and any activity that allows you to collaborate in person with colleagues. The focus is on having meaningful conversations, and these aren’t necessarily work focused.
For Mental Health Awareness Week we’re taking our inspiration from the programme’s –‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’:
- Connect, me whakawhanaunga: Talk and listen, be there, feel connected
- Keep learning, me ako tonu: Embrace new experiences, see opportunities, surprise yourself
- Take notice, me aro tonu: Remember the simple things that give you joy
- Be active, me kori tonu: Do what you can, enjoy what you do, move your mood
- Give, tukua: Your time, your words, your presence.
This year we are running a range of activities aligned to these five areas throughout the week. The idea being to offer a ‘pick and mix’ style programme that people can opt in, selecting activities of most interest. These include a webinar on mental health in the workplace, mindfulness sessions, a physical fitness challenge (with steps counted on the Strava app), morning teas, and a collection for Youthline. We will also be promoting our EAP services and sharing daily/wellness ‘postcards’ shared on our intranet that feature tips on how to meditate to reduce stress levels.
healthy company culture starts at the top - leading for mental health
At Randstad, we recognise our leaders need a good foundation of knowledge and understanding when it comes to managing people, particularly in today’s remote working environments. Supporting leadership growth in areas like empathy and soft skills are also important in today’s people focused landscape.
For us, Mental Health Awareness Week is a good opportunity to expand our ongoing conversations between leaders and teams about health and wellbeing, and the importance of creating environments where people can bring their best selves to work.
Richard Kennedy, our NZ Country Director at Randstad, recently explored the topic of empathy in leadership. You can read more here.
creating a well-defined but adaptable health and wellbeing strategy
Successful health and wellbeing strategies are built on what people want and need, and what they will genuinely gain benefit from. We regularly seek out opinions and perspectives from our teams. Every two weeks we run an employee wellness survey. We rotate questions to get a view over how people are feeling and if there are any gaps in the support we offer. For instance, we may discover people are feeling their physical workplace isn’t conducive to productivity, or they may be hungry for more training and development.
These surveys cover four core areas:
- Mental Wellbeing: The extent to which our people have the resources to manage their mental health at work.
- Organisational Support: This includes both formal and informal efforts, spanning everything from benefits to how leaders take care of employees.
- Physical wellbeing: This measures the extent to which we care for our individual’s physical health.
- Social Wellbeing: To measure how connected our people feel to others at work.
Our concept of anchor days was a direct result of the feedback we received through our surveys that people were feeling disconnected and somewhat isolated post lockdown and with so many people working from home. Feedback was overwhelming that people wanted to have some personal connections again, and were asking the company to find a way to bring the whole company together more often.
continuing the health and wellbeing conversation
Within Randstad, our business is only as good as our people and ensuring their personal ongoing health and wellbeing is front and centre of everything we do. As part of this journey, we are committed to continual change to ensure our ways of working and communicating with our people about their health and wellbeing needs are relevant to the here and now, while also keeping focused on our shared future.