Employee Benefits Reset 2020: On day six of the Employee Benefits Reset online series, Fiona McAslan, wellbeing lead, HR chief operating officer at Natwest Group, discussed how the organisation supported the wellbeing of employees before and during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
In the strategy session titled ‘Mobilising your organisation to prioritise employee health’, McAslan explained how mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing have been a key priority for Natwest over the past six years. “Since 2014, we [have been] very clear that wellbeing underpins every key strategy we implement at the business. It is very much part of the [employee] experience and it is talked about consistently at board level.”
Natwest transitioned from a siloed approach to a holistic approach in 2017, which has started to have a huge impact on employee wellbeing. McAslan said: “A holistic approach proved to be very important, we started to see a real shift in people accessing the wellbeing support that was being offered. We ensured that all areas of wellbeing were addressed and signposted this across the business, as well as celebrating awareness dates, such as mental health awareness week.”
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The organisation set out to introduce digital wellbeing to ensure that the wellbeing resources offered were accessible and user-friendly. McAslan explained: “We simplified the strategy to ensure that nothing was being hidden, so everyone could access it. This way, policies were not being hidden away in HR teams, having this over-communicated to employees increased the update of these processes, and consequently, improved wellbeing overall across the business.”
McAslan also discussed some of the most important learnings on the way to creating a wellbeing strategy. “The pandemic has enabled us to step back and review all of our wellbeing benefits to ensure that we are executing our plans in the right way. Our 1,000 wellbeing champions helped to enhance these schemes and to suggest new ideas. It was really helpful to get as many people to share their wellbeing challenges, as it helped us to introduce or refine new wellbeing benefits.”
During Covid-19 (Coronavirus) the business introduced specific wellbeing plans to support employees working remotely. Natwest digitalised existing physical wellbeing plans, as well as offering virtual GP services and internal hubs where employees were able to access wellbeing and health advice. “It has also been highlighted that employees struggling with sleep has been on the increase within the business,” added McAslan. “We wanted to support this issue and have introduced mindfulness and meditation resources to address this cause.”
The organisation has also addressed financial wellbeing during the pandemic. “We know that this has been an issue for many employees or households during a difficult time, so we want to put things in place to ensure that staff are being supported during this period,” McAslan said.
Looking forward to next year, McAslan explained that the organisation is looking to expand upon these services even further to support employees. “It is going to be key to build on the resilience programmes that we have in place in 2020, which will be our focus for next year,” she concluded.