Out of office | What can HR learn from Channel 4's 'wellbeing day'?

What can HR learn from Channel 4's 'wellbeing day'?

For many employers and HR departments, the wellbeing of staff has been a focal point over the last 12 months.

This is largely due to the impact the coronavirus crisis has had on employees, as it forced many to work in isolation at home or stop work altogether after being placed on the Government’s furlough scheme.

Data from mental health charity Mind reflects this as it revealed that more than half of adults (60%) and over two-thirds of young people (68%) said their mental health worsened during lockdown.

This meant that employers and HR teams had to re-think their wellbeing strategies, to ensure staff were receiving the appropriate attention and support from afar.

One business that has taken the lead when it comes to staff wellbeing is Channel 4.

Earlier this week the television network shared on LinkedIn that it would be allowing all of its staff to put their out of office on to enjoy a ‘wellbeing day’ – which took place earlier this week.

The firm added that this would allow employees to take a “much-needed break” away from their laptops, emails, meetings and video calls.

Sharing her thoughts on the initiative, Nicky Ivory-Chapman, Head of Talent Management at Channel 4, took to LinkedIn writing that she was “extremely thankful for this”.

Other LinkedIn users commended the organisation for spearheading such an idea, with one talent leader stating that the business was “leading the way” when it comes to wellbeing.

Jeff Uden, Head of Talent and L&D for the Iceland Group, wrote: “Wow...Well done Channel 4. Leading the way again.”

Another user, Clare Josa, Director of Education and Training at Beyond Alchemy Ltd, added: “Taking wellbeing this seriously shows true leadership.”

Elsewhere, Maxine Hourigan, Head of Resourcing & Inclusion at Sweco UK, praised the idea: “Such a small gesture, but speaks volumes!”

What can HR learn from this?

New research recently found that less than half (44%) of UK firms have a comprehensive wellbeing strategy in place. This is according to data published in Aon’s UK Benefits & Trends Survey, which also discovered that 70% of employers do not have a designated budget for health and wellbeing.

These figures coupled with the stats sharing that mental health issues have increased among employees indicate that employers and HR teams should take a look at their wellbeing initiatives and how these can be improved to provide the appropriate support.

Therefore, considering the concept of a ‘wellbeing day’ similar to what Channel 4 rolled out may be an option for HR leaders. However, if all staff cannot be off at the same time other initiatives could also be considered.

For example, hosting regular wellbeing sessions that inform staff about how to manage their wellbeing or introducing additional annual leave for employees to take a break could all help to boost a workforce’s welfare.

And Kirstin Furber, People Director at Channel 4, is keen to ensure wellbeing continues to be a fundamental part of Channel 4’s HR strategy, as she told HR Grapevine that communication is key to achieve this.

“Regular communication about where we’re going, what’s happening today, two-way communication of where I am struggling, how do I need to make change, what am I hearing, how do we need to do things differently, and that really starts with a very natural conversation about wellbeing and how to get the best for yourselves,” she concluded.

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