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Turbulent times: Why wellbeing has never been more crucial

by Maryum Sheikh

December 1, 2021

Technology and partnership automation company, impact.com, has redoubled its focus on wellbeing and is encouraging its employees to de-stress in a number of ways, says Bharat Siyani, Global HR Director for impact.com

How are you helping employees to de-stress?

We put our people first via a number of initiatives, such as uncapped time off and ‘deep work’ days. We’ve found that a focus on helping our employees to manage their stress levels has helped to keep productivity high – even during turbulent times.

To this end, communication is key. Our CEO hosts regular town halls - meetings across various locations - to address any questions and concerns that employees may have, wherever they are.

We also offer employees regular mental breaks – time in which individuals are not expected to respond to emails, nor to be contactable via platforms such as Slack. In addition, we have empathy training – delivered by trained psychologists and doctors, who advise teams about the importance of work/life balance, by way of example.

We place an emphasis on the benefit of ensuring time away from screens – and away from platforms which have been designed to ensure we are always available, 24/7. In addition to ensuring time is available to switch off completely from work pressures, meeting-free days enable teams to do more focused work, free from interruption. An appreciation that individuals like to work in different ways is necessary and we try to be thoughtful, mindful of the fact that there are a number of preferred working styles.

As a global company, how have you managed to maintain a consistent focus on wellbeing when working across borders?

Awareness of cultural nuance is important. impact.com’s DEI group, which was set up in 2020, is mindful of this given that the business employees over 750+ people across eight countries.

Given the global nature of the business, certain meeting slots are kept free for meetings taking place across time zones - specifically to ensure that employees are not requesting meetings excessively early, nor late. And, during the build up to the US election, we offered an additional day off for employees to ensure that they had time to cast their vote. But this initiative was not restricted to this country: Indeed, we ensured that all employees could take a day off to vote, in part to underline our respect for individual beliefs and freedom of speech. Our business is about relationships, after all; making a focus on wellbeing particularly relevant.

In order to all be off at the same time at certain points, we have also implemented company shut downs. These respect a variety of cultural events and holidays such as Diwali in November, Unity Day in Germany and Chinese holidays.

The pandemic has been particularly stressful for many of us. What sort of initiatives did you launch during this time?

During lockdown, we quickly realised people would potentially be under financial pressure when it came to a sudden increase in utilities bills, so we added a stipend within pay checks to cover increased use of wifi, gas, water and electricity. In the UK, for instance, this was £25 a month.

We wanted to ensure that working from home and now hybrid working does not impact employees in a detrimental way – financially or otherwise. During lockdowns, there was also an emphasis on reaching out to partners as well as employees - sending cocktails or ‘mocktails’ to speakers at events, offering online quizzes, online cooking events, sending videos and maintaining positivity and a sense of mutual support and appreciation. The CEO’s townhalls became a regular feature at this point, so that concerns or anxieties could be aired and discussed, enabling teams to find solutions together.

What about health benefits, if employees do unfortunately become unwell?

impact.com has increased health insurance and benefits across regions to ensure that - at this crucial time - teams have access to health care for themselves and their families. There is also a bike to work scheme and incentivised exercise – we organised a virtual march during the pandemic in partnership with count.it, for instance, with staff invited to go outside, get fresh air and stack up their steps. For every step, the company donates to a worthy social cause. We are aware that getting outside each day does wonders to reduce stress levels and is not just a nice-to-have.

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