By Robyn Bardgett
Several local organisations have implemented wellness programmes to support their employees and provide much-needed resources during the pandemic.
As this past year has proved, providing employees with access to resources that support their mental and physical health can be a critical aspect of a successful workplace. Of particular importance has been managing the blurring lines between work and home life, with so many people combining once space for both.
“We saw an increase in people asking for ways to balance their work and life,” said Brenda Dale, assistant vice president of Wellness at BF&M and the company’s LiveWell Programme manager.
In light of the pandemic, and requests from clients, last year the company designed a Covid-19 Toolkit, through its LiveWell Programme, to help people manage the new stresses they might face. The LiveWell Programme is BF&M’s client and employee resource that helps build holistic health and wellness programmes and has been in place for the past seven years.
“Our mental health is being challenged,” said Ms Dale. “We were getting back to normal and then it all changed again. For some people, it’s the stress of the unknown and the inability to plan. For others, it’s the mental and financial stress of those who can’t work from home or who have lost income.”
Zurich Bermuda is another company supporting employee health. Late last year, the company was awarded the Bermuda Mental Health Foundation’s first Gold Standard Mindful Employer Certificate,in recognition of the policies that support the mental wellbeing of its employees. Since 2017, Zurich Bermuda has implemented mindfulness sessions with certified mindfulness teacher Kim Rego, and in 2019 several staff took part in Mental Health First Aid training that allowed them to become points of contact for employees who may be experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress.
Zurich Bermuda hasn’t yet seen an increase in the need for mental health support due to the pandemic, Sylvia Taylor, who oversees the wellness programmes, said: “As mental health can be a sensitive topic, we regularly remind employees of both internal and external wellbeing resources available to them during these challenging times.”
While the mental wellbeing of employees has certainly taken centre stage over the past year, companies have also continued to provide other wellness initiatives that go hand-in-hand with mental health. Ms Dale points to three areas that employers should have as part of their Covid-19 Toolkit: nutrition and wellbeing, sleep and taking care of your people.
Through the pandemic, companies have had to get creative with how they continue to encourage physical movement and healthy life choices with reduced opportunities for face-to-face interaction.
“During the pandemic we’ve used our wellness programme as a way to keep our employees engaged and feeling a part of something,” said Zoey Amaral, who manages the wellness programme at Aeolus. “Luckily online applications such as Zoom allow us to still schedule speakers and offer some online classes.”
In April, Aeolus encouraged staff to stay active through a step challenge initiative.
“The competition is definitely a good motivator,” said Ms Amaral. “We have been using BF&M’s Virgin Pulse platform to track the participants’ steps and communicate to cheer each other on.”
At Zurich Bermuda the company started regular Wellness Challenges during the stay at home orders last year. Challenges included virtual scavenger hunts, weekly trivia quizzes and themed step challenges.
“This helped to promote both time away from computer screens and staying connected with colleagues while working remotely,” said Ms Taylor.