At the height of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, financial services organisation Aegon launched a number of initiatives to ensure that its 4,500 employees receive the right level of support for their mental health.
With all employees working remotely, in March 2020 the employer launched a virtual series of webinars offering internal support on managing mental wellbeing while working from home.
Gill Scott, HR director at Aegon, says: “Pre-Coronavirus, we were still putting a lot of resources and time into mental health through qualified first aiders, and learning and development opportunities for line managers. However, the pandemic has really accelerated the mental health offering. Not being able to see employees face-to-face has initiated an emphasis in line managers reaching out to [them].”
The organisation introduced mandatory line manager calls bi-weekly, where employees have an opportunity to say how they are feeling and ask questions about the business. Through engagement surveys, offered to employees once a week, and check-ins with line managers, Aegon was able to highlight the best support for its employees and virtually communicate these new benefits to the whole workforce.
To further support the mental health of its employees, the organisation transitioned many wellbeing initiatives that were originally only available physically, to the digital world. From June 2020, employees had access to free online yoga classes and virtual mindfulness sessions all available through the staff intranet.
Aegon also has culture champions: employees who feel passionate about a certain aspect of the business, whether it is diversity, learning or employee wellbeing. They offer new ideas and give managers a review on how they are progressing with these initiatives. These employees have been paramount in pushing forward the right mental health support, says Scott. “During the pandemic, we have massively benefitted from using our culture champions that we introduced in 2016 to measure the temperature of the business, and to receive the right information in knowing what initiatives employees are using the most, so we can then know whether to offer something more like this,” she says.
During National Inclusion week, which ran from 28 September 2020, the employer celebrated everyday inclusion ranging from gender balance to wellbeing. Employees benefited from gaining insights into mental health support and advice on how to stay positive while working from home.
“We are always looking to improve and offer the best mental health practices among our workforce, with our culture champions always putting forward ideas to support the wellbeing of all employees,” says Scott. “There is definitely a lot more to come to see employees through the pandemic.”