In 2011, professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) believed that, although its wellbeing approach offered guidance and resources to help when employees were unwell, not enough was being done around changing behaviours and staying well.
It shifted to a focus on resilience, which meant applying a growth mindset and considering how employees might build their capacity to learn, develop and thrive through difficult circumstances.
Sally Evans, wellbeing lead, inclusion, community and wellbeing, at PWC, says: “We see resilience as a skill that can be developed over time, but recognise that it is an ‘up and down’ thing.
“[We] can’t immunise [ourselves] against the challenges that life throws at [us], and what [we] can deal with at one time [in our lives] might be something [we] can’t deal with at another time. So, we want to have a dynamic and organic approach.”
The organisation recognised that the best way to help employees build resilience and embed positive behaviours was to work as teams, rather than as individuals. “We encourage [employees] to form plans with teams, agreeing what [good] working practices look like,” explains Evans. “[They] can do really simple things that make a huge difference, like building proper breaks into the day, making sure people can protect the time to do things that matter to themselves outside of work.”
The programme, introduced in 2011, is still running and resilience is now embedded in the way PWC develops its people, as it is seen as a core business and leadership skill, integrated into its competency framework.
PWC also began a specific mental health programme in 2015, to increase awareness, break down stigma and create cultural shifts.
“We have a very broad range of support for our [employees] if they need it, but the challenge is helping [them] understand what the pathways are to access that support, or to signpost other people to that support,” adds Evans.
To this end, the organisation introduced a mobile phone app in 2016, which provides contacts that employees can reach out to if they are worried about their own wellbeing, or that of a colleague, friend or family member.
For PWC, strengthening resilience and mental health is a continual process that needs to be ingrained in to the everyday working lives of employees. “Approaching it broadly and not as a series of initiatives, but as something that is important organisationally and is an ongoing journey, is fundamental,” Evans concludes.