In 2021, as we approached our third national lockdown, Child Maintenance Service Newcastle wellbeing team began a site-wide project offering wellbeing-specific 1-2-1s to everyone in our service centre. We recognised the toll the pandemic was taking on our keyworker colleagues- even our most resilient people were showing signs of burnout and anxiety.
Wellbeing advocates used Teams to contact around 650 colleagues to offer an opportunity to confidentially discuss their wellbeing in a friendly/informal format. Those who declined were sent a “Handy Handout” with links and information on where to find wellbeing information and support, should they need it in future. Those who accepted the offer were asked the following questions:
- What does wellbeing mean to you?
- How do you look after your wellbeing?
- How can we support your wellbeing at work?
- Is there a specific kind of wellbeing support you’d like to receive?
- If you needed support, do you know what help is currently available?
- Do you talk about wellbeing within your team and in 121s with a manager?
The project received positive responses; colleagues took the opportunity to talk honestly about their wellbeing, worries, feelings, and problems (both at work and in their personal lives.) Some colleagues admitted that they were working so hard and trying to “plough ahead” through the pandemic that it wasn’t until they’d sat down and received specific time to talk about themselves that they realised they’d been telling everyone (and themselves) that they were “fine”. Following the opportunity to talk they’d found that wasn’t the case.
We took that as a positive first step in getting colleagues to take time to be more self-aware about their wellbeing and trust us as advocates to ask for support. By recognising their wellbeing wasn’t in a good place we could take proactive steps towards changing this.
We anonymously gathered answers from everyone we spoke to and used a survey tool so we could look through the responses to spot trends, highlight top reoccurring answers, clarify what support tools were working well for colleagues and flag areas that needed improvement/ extra support.
The top answers we received, for example:
How do you try and look after your wellbeing?
- Exercise and Diet
- Spend time with Family/Friends
- Talk with others
- Take time out if I’m worried or stressed
- Using my monthly wellbeing hour to take part in activities that benefit my wellbeing
Other wellbeing support you would like to receive:
- Hybrid working as WFH is great for work/life balance
- Wellbeing conversations
- Continue to advertise health and wellbeing initiatives
- More time to visit Hotel CMG
We decided due to the success of the project and because the information we’d gathered was so useful we’d use this to formulate our wellbeing strategy for the ongoing year, to help us navigate our way through the current lockdown and into the “new normal” of hybrid working (plans of which were currently underway.)
We wanted colleagues to understand how we were using their responses to take proactive wellbeing action- we wanted the strategy to lift off the paper and become a creative concept that colleagues could interact with in the new virtual CMG world.
We decided that rather than publishing a paper strategy, we would design an interactive webpage within our website (Hotel CMG) to cover the areas of support colleagues said they needed, and we would adapt and expand it on a real-time basis according to colleague comments and feedback.
Danielle Molloy (Lead wellbeing advocate -Newcastle) proposed the concept of an interactive wellbeing spa, with each room in the spa covering a wellbeing topic that colleagues could explore for support and information. The design has a brochure page-turning function so colleagues could flick through and access the following:
- Welcome homepage and video explaining what the spa is
- About us section to explain how we used 121 feedback to create the spa
- 24 hour Reception room- financial wellbeing
- Gym – physical wellbeing
- Treatment room- advice on screenings, heath checks, physical health
- Emotional wellbeing room- mental wellbeing
- Relax and reflect room- testimonials from 121s and place to leave comments and feedback
- Quick links page for colleagues in needs of immediate support
- Teams page for our site-wide channel FacialBook, which has sub-channels on food, finances, and mental health
The spa is now an integral part of our virtual wellbeing support system which we use to upload articles, courses/talks, videos, links, and information on a weekly basis, and we use feedback from colleagues on FacialBook to determine hot topics and areas of interest. In Newcastle we also liaise with Maureen Turner from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to upload wellbeing content via the Better Health at Work award programme for our colleagues.
For information on joining the programme, contact Maureen Turner, Health Improvement Practitioner Specialist, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust on 0191 270 4514 or visit www.betterhealthatworkne.org