Santander offers employees extensive wellbeing support without overstepping boundaries

Banking group Santander UK offers its 23,500 employees wellbeing support across four key areas: physical, mental, social and financial.

Offering employees access to a wide range of support is how Santander makes sure its staff have everything they need, when they most need it, without straying too far into people’s personal lives.

Damien Shieber, head of culture and inclusion at Santander UK, explains: “As the traditional compartmentalising of work and home life subsides, and colleagues are able to bring their whole selves to work, this means us being there for our people with a wide range of support both at work and home, while, at the same time, ensuring colleagues know that they only need to interact with the support that they are most comfortable with and that works for them.”

Employees have received free access to the Thrive: mental wellbeing app since 2018. The app includes meditation sessions, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and wellbeing guides, among other resources.

“We’ve recently added in-app coaching, offering [employees] access to trained psychologists who will reply within 30 seconds to provide support,” adds Shieber. “The app also features a mood metre so [employees] can track their mood, which has integrated signposts to more support channels including our employee assistance programme (EAP).”

Santander also has an employee-led mental wellbeing network, which was launched in 2018. It is the bank’s fastest-growing employee network with a 50% increase in membership in the last year, says Shieber. “The mental wellbeing network hosts events to give [employees] key skills and knowledge to help maintain their wellbeing and the network also does a fantastic job of positively raising awareness of the support available to everyone at Santander.”

Line managers are given mental health training so that they can support their teams and spot signs of trouble, adds Shieber.

Santander partners with financial wellbeing consultancy Nudge to help people with financial planning. Employees are offered personalised guidance and access to financial wellbeing tools. The bank is careful not stray into the realms of advice. “The platform offers regular communications tailored to the goals set by our [employees], and the platform is completely impartial so it does not offer any advice or recommend any specific products,” explains Shieber.

The employer has set up a variety of initiatives to help people cope with Covid-19 (Coronavirus)-related anxiety. “Aside from the recently added in-app coaching, offering [employees] access to trained psychologists who will reply within 30 seconds to provide support, we’ve also introduced a series of wellbeing webinars on a range of topics including remote working and coping with possible anxiety during unsettling times,” explains Shieber. “Our mental wellbeing network is also playing a key role in keeping [employees] connected through weekly virtual tea-and-talk sessions and by sharing a weekly newsletter highlighting uplifting support from a variety for resources.”

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