29 June 2017

How Did Aviva Launch its Employee Wellbeing Programme?

As we read more about the impact of stress on productivity, health and wellbeing at work is one of the industry’s hottest topics. Chris spoke to Aviva’s Luke Knight after the recent launch of Wellbeing@Aviva.

Can you give us a bit of background on Aviva and your role?

I work in the global communications team at Aviva. We’re responsible for employee engagement both globally, and also to employees in the UK (which is Aviva’s biggest market and largest employee base).

What is Wellbeing@Aviva?

Wellbeing@Aviva proposition is a suite of products, policies, advice and support to help our people in the UK business stay healthy, and also to look after them if they are unwell. Ultimately this isn’t about ‘doing wellbeing’ to our people – it’s all about giving people good options, advice and support, and then letting them make personal choices about what they want to get involved in – or not! We’ve divided the proposition into four core themes so people can make sense of it and it doesn’t just feel like we’re throwing lots of ‘stuff’ at them! The themes are mental health, physical health, financial health and social/community wellbeing.

Why are you focusing on this?

Because our people say their wellbeing is important to them and they want support from Aviva around things like achieving work-life balance, tackling stress, and how to manage their finances better. And of course we’re a leading health and protection business so it’s important that we use that expertise and our great products to support our own people.

Why now?

We know there’s a growing interest in wellbeing and that’s wider than just Aviva – many organisations are realising the importance of helping people stay well, and seeing how that benefits individuals, teams, and ultimately means better customer service – and better business performance. Also, there’s lots of genuine employee dedication for making our company a better place to work.

What sort of things can Aviva employees take advantage of under this initiative?

Wellbeing@Aviva includes things like free health checks, mindfulness sessions, healthy eating options, and mental health support. It also includes company-funded health products for our people, such as Cancer Essentials which is an insurance to give financial and practical support people who develop cancer for the first time, and Physio Essentials which covers people who develop any muscular-skeletal problems.

Part of Wellbeing @ Aviva focuses on mindfulness. Can you tell us a bit more about this and your Employee Assistance Programme?

We ran some mindfulness pilots last year, and people got a lot out of them – including some people who were initially sceptical. So we’re rolling mindfulness training out as part of Wellbeing@Aviva. Mental health and dealing with stress are two important concerns that our people want to tackle, and mindfulness sessions can really help. We’re also encouraging people to download the Headspace app (which isn’t an Aviva product), which focuses on mindfulness and meditation. Our Employee Assistance Programme is a very well-used and respected service which is independent of Aviva, so people can talk about any personal or family issues in confidence. The EAP can help our people around issues such as financial stress, life events like bereavement, childcare, relationship issues, etc.

You also offer financial wellbeing?

Yes, financial wellbeing is one of the biggest causes of stress in many workplaces. As a financial services company we have a great deal of expertise around things like retirement and pensions planning, so for example we’ve created some simple materials and short films for people to run sessions in their own teams about planning for the future – it’s called ‘Time to Act’. We also offer our people lots of ways to save money as part of their reward package, so part of Wellbeing@Aviva is helping people understand how to make the most of the range of employee benefits we offer.

How did you roll out Wellbeing@Aviva internally?

Early this year we started by making sure that there were local wellbeing activities going on in each Aviva UK office location, led by our Health Heroes – these are people who have volunteered to do that role because they’re keen to make a difference to employee wellbeing. This local activity created belief that something good was underway. We than launched the whole Wellbeing@Aviva proposition in May this year, talking about all the different elements together so people could see how it all fitted. We ran Webex for managers to make sure they were on board and understood the various elements of the proposition and their role in landing this in their teams – as ultimately managers have a big impact on team culture and behaviours. Then we also offered Webexes for employees who wanted to hear all the detail. Whenever we talk about any element of wellbeing we always link back to the high-level story about why we’re doing this, and we consistently use the lovely visual elements that Synergy helped us create!

How has it been received by the team?

The Wellbeing@Aviva proposition has been fantastically well received. The feedback has been amazing and we’ve really tapped into something special. I’ve been most taken aback by the online and offline mental health conversations that have started up as a result of our wellbeing focus, with lots of employees talking about their previous or ongoing mental health problems – and many of them doing so for the first time.

What does the future roadmap look like?

We’ll keep adding to the UK wellbeing proposition as we get more employee feedback. Also, wellbeing is a global priority for Aviva – we operate in many countries across the globe – so we’re sharing insights and learnings with our counterparts in those markets. Every market is taking a slightly different approach to the wellbeing agenda depending on what’s right for employees locally and culturally.

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