The pandemic's impact means providing wellness support for employees is more valuable than ever but also more challenging. Find out how our first Virtual Wellbeing Festival is giving our teams a boost with its mix of advice, activity and fun.
Over recent years it’s become the norm for large companies to offer at least some staff wellbeing initiatives - from lunchtime mindfulness seminars and yoga classes to free counselling sessions - but doing so in the midst of a pandemic has brought fresh challenges, at a time when wellness needs boosting more than ever.
It was this situation that led to a bright idea from Jan Nixon, a member of our UK business’ Health and Wellbeing Team. During a weekend in May, locked down at home, Jan logged into a virtual festival which covered all sorts of lifestyle subjects. Open to anyone, it wasn’t workplace focused but it triggered the idea for an equivalent for employees. Jan got to work with colleagues and National Grid’s first Virtual Wellbeing Festival came about, designed to give wellness a concentrated uplift across the business.
Jan explains: ‘We’ve delivered a lot of wellbeing support since the UK entered lockdown in March. Many of our employees have been working from home and some have remained on site away from their families. Wherever they are working, we wanted to do something a bit more special than the usual short sessions, that would mean colleagues could take some time away from the challenges of day-to-day life and the stresses the pandemic has brought about.”
She adds that ultimately the aim was to help relieve the monotony of life in lockdown, connect colleagues, balance physical and mental health and create some fun.
Running over two days – Thursday August 13th and Friday August 14th - the festival covers a huge range of activities. There are mindfulness, yoga and fitness classes, but also music sessions, competitions, a quiz and giveaways. There’s even a comedy night for a bit of after-work humour. In total there are 20 different sessions and the organisers hope there’s plenty that will appeal to everyone, regardless of age, lifestyle, work or family circumstances.
It’s too early to say if the festival will become a regular fixture but early signs of take-up are encouraging and there are already plans afoot for a mini version in January when moods can need lifting more than ever. “We’ll be looking at the success of the festival and which sessions saw the most attendance and considering whether to make this an annual event.” says Jan.