Wells Fargo adapts global health support through pandemic

With more than a quarter of a million employees across 27 different countries outside the US, looking after their health and wellbeing is a key priority for Wells Fargo. Although it had run a variety of health-related initiatives in the past, these hadn’t always maintained employee engagement. To address this, the organisation analysed its health data, assessed employee needs and launched a formal health and wellbeing programme in 2019.

This covers a broad range of health and wellbeing topics but also contains two new components to drive employee engagement: executive sponsorship and wellbeing champions. Gareth Ashley-Jones, head of international benefits at Wells Fargo, explains: “Each country shares the same structure, with sponsorship from executives and a team of wellbeing champions, but then adapts the programme to ensure it’s culturally appropriate and fits the needs of employees. For instance, in India, there’s more interest in physical fitness, while in the Philippines they want to learn more about healthy eating.”

The new programme was proving really successful, as Ashley-Jones explains: “Everything was going great with onsite events, such as yoga in our London office, causing a real buzz and getting lots of engagement. Then Covid-19 (Coronavirus) happened and, just as everyone switched to working from home, we had to make wellbeing virtual.”

To do this, a library of virtual events – including fitness and dance classes – were made available and different countries set up and publicised their own programmes to get employees involved.

Looking after employees’ emotional and mental health was also important. As well as promoting the employee assistance programme, senior leaders were encouraged to share videos about their struggles during lockdown. “We also produced an emotions activity book for employees to share with their children to help them talk about their feelings in the pandemic,” explains Ashley-Jones. “I’m extremely proud of the way the wellbeing teams have supported employees. The programmes have been amazing and have really helped to make employees feel connected and engaged.”