At Seldon, we understand the importance of mental health, wellbeing and a work-life balance. We are committed to encouraging a proactive approach to this across the team but we appreciate this can often be easier said than done! Instead of simply sending out some useful resources (though we did that too!) we wanted to empower the team to take time out for themselves, to explore and understand the different aspects of personal wellbeing and the variety of ways in which we can positively support it.
As part of ‘Health and Wellness Month’ and ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’, I collaborated with our Culture and Experience Champions who are a cross-functional group supporting people and culture initiatives. We looked at a variety of sessions to help raise awareness, educate each other, and create dedicated time to explore what ‘health and wellbeing’ means to us as individuals. We wanted the team to actively try out different ways to support positive wellbeing and perhaps even kickstart a new activity.
What did we get up to?
We started out by discussing Financial Health and Wellbeing, an often overlooked aspect of personal wellbeing that can put substantial stress on employees. To support this we partnered with TOMII who ran a fantastic workshop on ‘Three Things Every Investor Needs To Know’. The talk helped to remove some of the ambiguity and uncertainty around getting started with investing in a sustainable way.
Our first in-person session of the month saw team members head off for what some would call a much-deserved morning guided nap, more formally known as an hour of Yin Yoga and Meditation, run by Bex Parker Smith Yoga! This consisted of gentle floor-based long-held stretches to relax the nervous system and then a 15-minute guided relaxation to help ‘zen’ you out. It certainly went down well with the team, with rumours of a few snores ringing out in the office!
“I learnt about new ways to look after my health and wellbeing that I likely wouldn’t have experienced without Seldon. Yin Yoga (basically a guided nap) and steam eye masks are my new favourite thing and something I definitely intend to carry on with. I’ve never been able to switch off so well!”
Switching up the pace, we headed to The Secret Boxing Gym for a private class with Head Coach and ex IBO Champ Rich ‘The Secret’ Williams. I certainly got a few raised eyebrows announcing this at our Town Hall! However, after explaining to the team that we weren’t going toe to toe in the ring but instead learning technique whilst working on strength and stamina, a fair few signed up for a great afternoon session that pushed us outside our comfort zones!
Next on the agenda was a focus on the benefits of disconnecting. Its important to learn how we can support one another to embed positive action and habits through leading by example, which is always the hardest part! These practices are essential to mitigate the risk of stress or burnout. We already have a positive and flexible work culture at Seldon but we are still a small and busy team and want to ensure everyone feels they can create a positive work-life balance. Many of the team use Clockwise to set working hours, block out time for lunch, and importantly, schedule focus time. In fact, every Tuesday afternoon we aim to avoid any internal meetings to help productivity. We also encourage the team to use email and Slack message scheduling, to help reduce the feeling of the pressure to respond out of hours.
Not that we needed many reasons to head out to Top Secret Comedy Club, but it’s true about what they say, laughter really is the best medicine! Sometimes when struggling with mental ill-health and wellbeing the last thing you might want to do is go out and socialise or watch something funny. However, laughing releases endorphins and hormones that make us feel happy and help reduce feelings of stress. Over a third of the Seldon team headed out for an evening of food, laughter, and drinks.
“I absolutely LOVED the comedy night. I think it’s a great way to get people from all teams to mingle together as we continue to grow! Plus it was super entertaining and relaxed – I vote for this to be a monthly or bi-monthly thing!”
Finishing off our Health & Wellbeing tour, our VP of Marketing Graeme stepped up to organise a 30-mile cycle around the Surrey Hills! Not only did it create an enjoyable morning out to earn some coffee and cake at the top of Box Hill, but it also helped expand one of our many personal hobbie-related communities at Seldon! This is just another aspect of our #culturematters approach to our team members.
“All the events were great fun! It was great to have a go at a few new things with people out of the office. Andy’s boxing was a blast, even though it did make me realise I seem to have no arm strength, and Graeme did a great job of finding every hill in Surrey! Adrian, Janis and I also carried on the wellbeing drive by doing the RideLondon 100 yesterday!”
What did we learn?
As well as sharing what we got up to over the past couple of months, I also wanted to share some of the learnings we have had along the way on how to approach running a mental health & wellbeing initiative (especially in a start-up!).
- All but one of our sessions were run during working hours, fully supported by the Leadership Team. This helped show our commitment to investing in the team and enabling them to explore different ways to look after their health and wellbeing and was received really well!
- We tried out a variety of inclusive activities across different aspects of health and wellbeing. Some were better attended than others and that is OK! With each one, we learnt more about what the team likes and the type of activities they engage well with
- Sometimes it is hard to demonstrate the ROI on people initiatives. However, it doesn’t have to cost a huge amount. TOMII’s intro sessions are free, Top Secret Comedy Club tickets start from £2 mid-week and the Yoga and Boxing sessions worked out at no more than £30 a head
- The activities were fantastic for building cross-functional connections, relationships, and bonds based on our personal interests and who we are as individuals outside of work. It’s had a really positive impact on our team engagement and well-being culture
- To support our global team in the US and Europe who couldn’t attend the in-person events, we sent them Classpass vouchers so they could invest in their personal health and wellbeing too
Now we have more insight into the different well-being areas and activities that the Seldon team are interested in, we will look to run more regular initiatives that bolster our positive culture and work-life balance, as well as boost the team’s overall mental health. We will continue to listen to feedback, ideas and suggestions from across the team as we continue to grow and nurture a purposeful place to work for everyone.