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Enrich our people, our wellbeing

21 May 2020

Debbie Beale, Charlie Fisher

This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, a campaign run by the Mental Health Foundation to raise awareness and inspire action supporting good mental wellbeing for all. To coincide with this important campaign, we are pleased to announce the launch of our Mental Health First Aiders; volunteers who were trained at the beginning of this year to act as the first point of contact for employees who may require support during the working day.

The launch of the Mental Health First Aiders is the latest in a series of initiatives that exist solely for the benefit of our employees. 'Belonging' is a human motivator for the LGT Group; we believe that our stakeholders feel they belong to the LGT Vestra 'family'. Identified long ago as one of four key stakeholders, employees and their wellbeing have been integral since the founding of LGT Vestra.

Our earlier health and wellbeing initiatives were formalised in 2018 as the 'Enrich' programme. Debbie Beale, who helped found the programme, says, "Having joined LGT Vestra at the very beginning of the journey in 2008, I was very proud to work somewhere where doing the right thing by employees was part of the DNA of the firm. We were conscious as we grew larger that we wanted to ensure this continued and so, in 2018, we launched our staff wellbeing initiative 'Enrich', based on feedback received from our staff. We believe it should not just be about a wellbeing week or month once a year where we pay 'lip service' to staff wellbeing, but an ongoing programme based on employees' wants and needs."  

In the first year, we ran events and workshops covering topics such as stress management and mindfulness, as well as physical wellbeing classes. The most popular were established as part of the monthly programme, so our employees can practise yoga and pilates without the expense of a costly gym membership, book into massage slots with a therapist and attend workshops on topics covering emotional, spiritual, social, intellectual and environmental health. Individuals also have the opportunity to delve deeper into subjects by attending one-to-one sessions with a mindfulness expert.

All of this, of course, was formulated on the very reasonable assumption that employees would be physically present. The situation created by COVID-19 now means that our entire workforce has been working remotely since March this year, and mental health awareness has come into even sharper focus, as physical distance makes monitoring employees' wellbeing more challenging. We recognised the need to find ways to ensure the 'Enrich' programme would still be accessible, turning to technology to help us achieve this.

Knowing that the world is now much more uncertain, and that COVID-19 is impacting mental health, we acted swiftly to provide assurance to our people in a number of ways:

  • Flexibility is key; everyone's individual circumstances are different and people should feel comfortable to work in the best way that suits them.
  • Sharing ideas help; tips on working from home practices and suitable home stations were circulated and are continually available to employees.
  • Keeping in touch is paramount; we encourage our employees to pick up the phone and hold meetings virtually to reduce feelings of isolation and retain face-to-face contact.
  • It's a two-way street; employees send questions to management that are answered during virtual updates. We have also circulated multiple surveys to help measure the impact of COVID-19, both on current situations and what employees may like to see going forward.
  • Nobody should have to suffer in silence; with the launch of our Mental Health First Aiders, together with the new financial wellbeing tool 'nudge' and the Working Parents Network Forum, we hope that our employees feel they have the resources to turn to if they need them.

Embracing technology has been a key feature of the lockdown and social restrictions. For us, this has been no different. The management team provide regular updates via video conferences, 'water cooler' chats are still held during our twice-weekly "Zoom Coffee Rooms" and internal social events like our Easter quiz are held virtually.

David Scott, Chairman of LGT Vestra, remarks on the changes brought about by COVID-19, "It is amazing how necessity can make the impossible possible, if there had been a project to look at whether we could all operate from home, it would have taken several years to review and probably would have concluded that it was not possible.

"As a management team, we trust all of our people to operate from home and perform their roles in the best way and in the hours that work best for them, managing workloads accordingly without supervision. Of course, that trust is a two-way thing; we have always operated an open door policy and during this period of homeworking this is more important than ever, we actively encourage our people to send us thoughts on what we can do to make our work not only more efficient, but also a more enjoyable place to be."

At the moment, we still do not know what the future holds. We trained our Mental Health First Aiders in a very different world to the one we are living in now, but we did not allow ourselves to be deterred from launching this valuable resource. Wherever we are working, we will continue to strive to create a working environment that our people can be comfortable in.