To examine how businesses are instilling healthier company cultures, a panel of speakers shared their insights into the challenges and successes they've encountered so far.
Continuing our series of events surrounding wellbeing, our latest Member gathering examined Wellness in the Workplace. Speakers from a range of companies described their methods for enhancing employee engagement, managing stress and cultivating work-life balance.
First up was Helen Andrews, Deputy Managing Director at creative agency Wieden + Kennedy. The advertising industry is renowned for its gruelling hours and heavy workloads. Last year, Wieden + Kennedy’s London office went against the grain and introduced a number of new guidelines designed to improve wellness and work-life balance. For example, email has been banned between 7pm - 8am, meetings can only take place 10am - 4pm and the office closes at 4.30pm every Friday.
Following Helen was Uniqlo’s Retail Marketing Manager Melanie Astbury, who discussed the fashion brand’s varied CSR programmes and the positive impact they have on staff satisfaction. The programmes vary from workshops to help refugees find employment, to classes encouraging young people to develop their creative skills.
Finally, Ken Kirton explored how companies can instil a healthy working culture, drawing from his own experience as co-founder of Hato. Beginning life as a risograph printing service, the business now encompasses a design studio and a publishing press, as well as hosting workshops on collaboration and education. Ken shared how he's helped Melanie's team at Uniqlo and other companies such as Facebook build an enriching company culture.
Here's a rundown of what we learned.
Hard work isn’t the enemy
Helen was keen to emphasise that W + K’s new guidelines are not about denouncing hard work. She referenced Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work, which describes there being two different working modes that we all switch between. Shallow work often makes us feel like we are being very productive, such as getting through a list of emails, but doesn’t usually require creativity or produce anything of significance. Deep work, on the other hand, is when we are totally focused on a cognitively demanding task.
By banning meetings at the very beginning and end of the day, Helen hopes that W + Kers now have a few protected hours for deep working. She also admitted that this guideline has been the hardest one for the agency to stick to.
Melanie explained that while Uniqlo runs global sustainability initiatives, it also does a huge amount of work to help the local communities surrounding its individual stores. These programmes are made possible thanks to retail staff who provide insights into different projects or issues happening in the area. Melanie's insights indicate that empowering employees to lead the way with CSR projects can be a great way to engage with people locally, as well as increase satisfaction among the staff themselves.
Food for thought
After explaining how Hato workshops can bring companies together via creativity, Ken explained how he cultivates a healthy culture among his own employees. For example, everybody takes it in turns to cook lunch for the rest of the office every day. Ken described food as a “social catalyst”, enabling everyone to get to know each other and chat about subjects beyond work.
Personal development is also a key focus within Hato’s working culture. Instead of offering gym memberships, Ken sets aside budget each month for every employee to put towards personal learning activities. For example, they might decide to use the money to attend an exhibition or enroll in a workshop that helps build their skills.
Location:72 Rivington St,
London, EC2A 3AY,
Start:12th January, 2017 at 6:30pm
End:12th January, 2017 at 8:30pm