World Health Day 2021: Sitel Group® Focuses on Health and Wellbeing
World Health Day is an opportunity to reflect on the efforts taken over the past year to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of our people and understand how to do more by making further improvements to SitelFit, our global employee wellness program.
Over the past 12 months, health has been in the spotlight like never before. For many people, taking care of themselves, their bodies and their minds had been taking a backseat as they wrestled with daily life.
For instance, the morning commute alone can be enough to significantly increase the risk of ill health. The average U.S. adult (used to) spend an average of one hour a day commuting to and from work. Yet driving as little as 10 miles in rush-hour traffic on a daily basis is enough to raise both blood sugar and cholesterol levels. And, in doing so, increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
But on top of the daily commute, we’re increasingly balancing work with childcare, we’re skipping meals to meet deadlines or simply realizing there’s just not enough hours in the day to get everything done and make time for exercise or even self-reflection.
Once the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, however, keeping safe and, crucially, keeping well took center stage.
Some people took up music, learning how to play guitars, mandolins or pianos. Fender, the maker of the iconic Stratocaster and Telecaster electric guitars revealed it sold more guitars in 2020 than at any other time in its 75-year history.
Others took to yoga, meditation or mindfulness or cooked from scratch, with fresh ingredients, for the first time in their lives. Meal kit sales hit an all-time high in 2020, while others pounded the road and discovered the joys of running.
In fact, this new-found concern and urge to do something about our individual and collective health and wellbeing may well be one of very few lasting positive results of the pandemic.
Maintaining New Habits
Therefore, World Health Day arrives at exactly the right moment. As vaccination programs are rolling out and lockdowns and restrictions are easing, there might be a temptation for some of us to let some of our new habits start to slide. World Health Day should help to reinvigorate this motivation and to remind us all of why taking care of ourselves is so important.
After all, a sense of community support and external stimulus as well as some gentle and good-natured competition are vital to keeping an individual motivated to maintain new routines, particularly those directly related to health and fitness, such as keeping to a diet or continuing to visit the gym on a regular basis.
Organizations Take Responsibility
In addition to an individual realization concerning the benefits of taking better care of one’s self, COVID-19 brought into sharp focus the fact that an organization’s most valuable asset is its people. Therefore, their health and wellbeing are paramount to any business’ success.
And this is why organizations need to start thinking about company wellness programs. A well-executed program can help employees learn, adopt and maintain healthier habits that will have a long-term positive impact on their health.
Likewise, demonstrating an active commitment to employee health and wellbeing translates into greater employee engagement. Engagement is key to productivity, loyalty and creating a welcoming professional atmosphere. As the world of work is changing and roles are quickly evolving, engagement is critical. Employees who are engaged and feel higher levels of wellbeing are 45% more likely to adapt to change.
If focusing purely on productivity for every employee fully engaged in a corporate health and wellness program, that business can save approximately $353 in recouped productivity per person, per year.
Understanding the Benefits
At Sitel Group®, we understand the direct correlation between the employee experience and customer experience. The more we take care of our people, the more they enjoy their working lives and the stronger their commitment to their individual and collective roles.
In 2017, we launched our own global health and wellness program, SitelFit. It has helped thousands of our employees make healthier choices (exercise, healthy eating, etc.), meet personal goals, participate in challenges for charity, access advice and information and gain support and understanding. In 2020, before we knew there would be a global pandemic, we launched the concept of #OneSmallChange to encourage people to make one change in their lives, such as drinking more water, taking more steps and more.
Still, as the pandemic hit and we needed to transition the majority of our global workforce to remote working, we realized that as successful as it was, SitelFit needed to pivot and expand, and pivot quickly if it were to provide the support necessary to help our people through this most challenging and unique of times.
Meeting New Needs
SitelFit grew in scope to encompass mental health and wellbeing alongside its existing focus on promoting physical activity and healthier eating options.
Some of the ‘small changes’ were subtle. For instance, we communicated and encouraged our people to make small changes and remember to focus on their wellbeing, such as drinking a set amount of water in a given time period, setting goals for steps taken or taking time out every day to meditate or focus on themselves. Further, associates from around the world were showcasing how they were keeping healthy at home with virtual exercise sessions and random acts of kindness toward one another.
We then supported these elements with more robust services and features, guided by employee feedback and through engaging health and wellbeing experts. To maximize the program’s potential reach, we started making intelligent use of social media – such as publishing Instagram video snippets and hosting Facebook Live events and podcasts – to reach all members of our workforce (including a LinkedIn Live with motivational speaker and author Sally Bee discussing how to achieve mental and physical wellbeing through self-care).
Before the pandemic hit, we already understood that there was a clear demand for a genuinely integrated, consistent and accessible employee wellness program. However, one of our biggest takeaways from the past 12 months is that part of that accessibility is about the challenges, tips and support.
Accessibility for All
An organization’s advice and activities need to cover the widest possible health and wellness spectrum. Someone who doesn’t usually walk further than 500 feet managing to take 10,000 steps in a day has achieved just as much and deserves equal recognition to a colleague who just set a new personal best for their deadlift or bench press.
Room for Improvement
These programs are also not set in stone and you need to ensure agility and ability to pivot. It needs to be constantly improved through regular feedback from its community of users. Just like developing customer experience, you need to understand any problematic touchpoints or elements that create friction or increase the amount of effort a user needs to exert to complete a task. Any one of these problems could cause an employee to abandon their session and never return.
As well as looking inward, you need to look outwards for other organizations, associations and societies who can bring genuine expertise to the program that is currently lacking. For instance, in support of our British employees, we partnered with the British National Health Service (NHS) to make sure we were doing all of the right things to guide our employees in terms of taking better care of their minds and understanding their moods.
External expertise also gives users the confidence that information is valid, accurate and impartial.
The final point to remember is that potential employees are now actively looking to work for organizations that offer wellness programs. So as well as clearly publicizing your program and what it offers, it needs to be built into the recruitment process.
Over the past 12 months SitelFit has been integrated into our initial employee proposition and is now an element of the onboarding and training process. Likewise, we have publically committed to doing even more for our people’s health and wellbeing by making employee welfare a central focus of our 2021 Corporate Social Responsibility strategy.