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Supporting the wellbeing of the people at Aviva

  • 3 Min Read

HRD Connect heard from Debbie Bullock, UK Wellbeing Lead, Aviva about addressing wellbeing within their workforce and the importance of improving this all year round.

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Although mental health awareness week has passed, the significance of addressing workplace wellbeing still remains just as essential. For companies to succeed in improving the overall wellbeing of their workforce, they must address this all year round. To continue spreading awareness of this cause, HRD Connect exclusively spoke to Debbie Bullock, UK Wellbeing Lead, Aviva about what they are doing for their workforce, and why it is imperative to continually find ways to develop this within their workforce.

Here’s what she had to say 

Supporting the wellbeing of our people is paramount at Aviva. And we’re not alone. More and more businesses are recognising the importance of having a wellbeing strategy in place as there were 26.8 million days lost to work-related ill-health in 2017/18. One of the biggest causes of absence is mental ill health. Everyone has mental health – sometimes it’s in good shape, other times it’s not. At Aviva we’re keen to help colleagues keep their mental health healthy, but also be there to support them when they need it.

We’ve put a number of things in place for our colleagues:

  • In May 2017 we signed the Time to Change pledge, and we have regular communications about mental health to remove the stigma, so it’s not a taboo subject – for example during Mental Health Awareness Week, World Mental Health Day, Stress Awareness week etc.
  • Colleagues have access to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which offers counselling, either on the phone or in person, but also an information advice service to help them work through other issues that might be impacting their mental wellbeing (e.g. debt advice).
  • All our people leaders have received mental health awareness training to help support their team, be open to talking about mental health, and help them recognise early signs and symptoms and where to signpost people to for help.
  • We offer the Headspace app free of charge to all employees to help them with their resilience and mindfulness.
  • All colleagues are covered by our Group Income Protection policy, which provides help and support with rehabilitation/recovery to any colleagues who are absent for 2 weeks due to mental ill health
  • We offer a variety of training opportunities for individuals and teams on managing stress and building resilience to support colleagues in keeping their mental health healthy. This is supported by other resources on the ‘Be Mindful Wellbeing@Aviva’ pages on our intranet
  • We have set up a network of wellbeing champions called ‘Health Heroes’ across our UK offices who deliver site-based talks and events related to mental health – this includes mindfulness colouring, pet therapy sessions and talks on mental health strategies

They are just a few examples. But one of the main things we have done is to view wellbeing holistically.

It’s difficult to only tackle mental health issues is you don’t look more widely at what can be affecting employees. Financial and physical wellbeing play a huge part in someone’s mental health. If someone has money worries that can cause stress. Or if someone is in physical pain for an extended period of time, that can cause a deterioration in mental health.

On the positive side, it’s been proven that physical activity can help keep your mental health healthy – so our wider wellbeing programme supports and encourages colleagues to be more active.

A wellbeing strategy doesn’t have to be overly complex or only available to larger businesses. Encouraging a culture of openness and making people feel comfortable to discuss mental health issues is a great first step.

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