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HPE’s Wellness Friday extends the focus on mental health and wellbeing for all staff
HPE’s ‘Wellness Friday’ was launched in October 2019. Encouraging colleagues to leave work three hours early, one Friday per month, this initiative gave them free time to spend as they chose. As part of HPE’s ‘Work That Fits Your Life’ programme, these days were seen as an essential way to care for employees – looking after their mental health in a time of great uncertainty and global chaos. Having seen the positive impact these days have had on staff, the initiative has been expanded to grant a full day off on alternate Fridays from June until August, to expand the focus on health and wellbeing.
The pandemic has thrown many challenges at us all, with a shift in the way we work causing increased stress and additional pressure for many. HPE managers talked to colleagues, collected feedback and realised that dedicated time to re-energise and recharge was essential for the health and wellbeing of every member of staff.
What impact does Wellness Friday have?
With the virtual world of work and the shift to home working, an ‘always-on’ mentality has appeared, as people balance home, parenting, work and their health from one place. These Wellness Fridays allow team members to take time out to exercise, do fun activities, spend time with their family or kids, or to unwind and focus on what makes them whole, centred and happy. They are truly a blessing to all teams.
Dave Strong, UKIMESA Presales Director, loves Wellness Fridays, prioritising his wellbeing over working and using the day to unwind so he’s ready and energised for a family weekend.
“Clearing the diary and having that Friday off is so welcome, but I often find myself thinking, “Shall I do emails, or prep for that presentation or meeting the following week…?”. Yes, sometimes I have to be flexible if there is a customer meeting (but these are rare on a wellness day) but I get myself into check and say, “No I am having the day off to re-charge and relax.”
“What I find with the Friday is that I can really switch off as the children are at school. I use that time to spend well-earned downtime with my wife, whether it be out for a walk, sitting on the beach or having a nice long lunch, time to totally unwind. But what this extra day does is allow me to focus on the weekend with the family; the Friday is time for me and I am then fully re-charged to focus on time with the children. That makes a big impact to what we do together and how we spend the weekend.”
“I am extremely proud and grateful to HPE as an organisation for giving me the time. Although I felt uncomfortable at first taking the Friday, now it just feels like the natural thing to do and I am enjoying every minute of it!”
As a manager, Dave understands the importance of this initiative. With so many people mentally and physically exhausted through the pressures of lockdowns, home-schooling, restrictions and the virus itself, he knows it’s important that people get the opportunity to re-charge and decompress on a regular basis. Leading by example is crucial to him:
“It is essential as leaders at HPE we lead by example. What is the point of having wellness days like this if you get emails from your boss asking you to complete something or giving you a high priority piece of work for the following week, putting you under immediate pressure and undue angst?! This does not allow people to decompress and relax.”
“I have rules that I stick to, to make sure everyone gets the most out of Wellness Friday:
- My email goes to offline mode so if I do remember something that needs to be sent, it will arrive in the inbox on Monday morning.
- My online presence goes to offline mode as well, with all the technology we have available it is so easy to appear to be present and available.
- Email notifications get turned off on my phone so I cannot be tempted to respond to an email coming in immediately (I check periodically if there is anything urgent I need to respond to).
- Most of all, I support everyone in the organisation to be empowered to keep that Wellness Friday theirs. This has really worked, as most people will make sure they work with customers to arrange meetings so they don’t fall on Wellness Friday. It is so encouraging to see how supportive our customers are of our Wellness Friday initiative.
How can I tell that people are really embracing this wellness initiative? Email traffic on those Fridays is without question the lowest I have ever seen it!!”
For HPE, focusing on mental health is central to the organisation, and wellness is prioritised above all else. As life continues to change and evolve, the spotlight on staff wellbeing will remain.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
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