Zurich takes a country-specific approach to staff health and wellbeing

Zurich office 430

Global insurer Zurich employs around 55,000 people in more than 170 countries. Although it has a global strategy to create an environment where employees feel their health and wellbeing is supported by the organisation, the delivery of this is very much determined by the specifics of each country.

Georgina Farrell, head of UK HR at Zurich, says this local focus is essential. Before taking up her role in the UK, she worked in HR for Zurich in Asia and the Middle East. “Cultural differences mean it’s impossible to have a one-size-fits-all approach. For example, in the UK the average length of service is 13 years, whereas in the Middle East it’s around half this, so [it] needs a much less rigid approach to benefits,” she explains. “[We] also need to consider any issues around healthcare provision on a local level to ensure employees get the most out of any initiatives.”

As a result, Farrell has run a number of health and wellbeing initiatives throughout the UK, sometimes even varying these from office to office to reflect the different workforces. These have included a wellbeing week, Zurich’s StepZ challenge, which involved cycling and swimming as well as walking, webinars with mental health charity Mind on removing the stigma around mental health, a weight-loss challenge, Mission Slimpossible, and resilience workshops.

But, while interpreting Zurich’s health and wellbeing strategy locally enables the organisation to reflect cultural and health differences, it is looking to run some of its initiatives on a global basis. “The StepZ Challenge was held across many of the countries in which Zurich has a presence and we’re now looking to see whether we could coordinate a broader programme to encourage more global interaction,” says Farrell.