Working together for wellness at work

We like to look after our staff in IT Services. For the last two years we have been running a 'Working Together' initiative within the department; embedding a set of behaviours and attributes that support everyone working towards a cohesive culture. Our vision is:

'To cultivate a department in which working together is the norm.  A department in which staff at all levels are open and accountable, colleagues provide constructive challenges and feedback, and learning from the past is embedded so these behaviours become the norm.  By consistently supporting, respecting and collaborating with each other, staff are motivated to provide input, value the contribution of others and recognise knowledge and expertise.  This all helps to ensure that staff have a sense of belonging, making IT Services a great place to work and great to work with.'

As part of this initiative, our staff had the opportunity to explore their inner artist with our Artist in Residence programme last summer. This year, the 'in Residence' programme focussed on promoting wellness of the body and mind.

Driven by Denise Conway, our Director of Business Management, a full programme of wellness activities has been running since May. The lunchtime sessions have included Mindfulness in the Workplace, Yoga, Tai Chi, Stretch at your Desk; seminars on nutrition, and the health risks of sitting; and for those who wanted to really raise their heart rate, a series of fitness boot camps.

Feedback from staff has been very positive:

'I've found them physically and mentally beneficial and have also appreciated getting to meet new colleagues and spend time with existing ones in a non-work non-pub setting'

'I've found it really beneficial to get out of the office for an hour and come back feeling de-stressed and energised for the afternoon. I do the fitness boot camp and always feel much more energised and stay more focused when I return to work for the afternoon. Often by mid-afternoon I start to slump and loose concentration so boot camp really helps. It also has a really positive effect on my mood.'

'I do the Yoga course. It's improved my posture and alleviated muscle soreness associated with sitting all day. My job involves a lot of planning, analysis and problem-solving. I find I am more effective following sessions because I am less wired and able to think clearly.'

'I feel generally feel stronger and more resilient than before, I think this is a combined effect of the yoga and boot camp. In addition, I've felt more alert in the afternoons following the sessions. The intangible psychological benefit of having boot camp on a Monday lunchtime helps to reintroduce us back into the working week quite nicely. Makes you look forward to Monday's in a different way I guess.'

'It has been fantastic so far and really helped to loosen my back and shoulders from sitting at a desk all day. It has also been good to do something different at lunch and meet some new colleagues.'

All too often we sit at our desks over lunch or skip taking any break at all. Offering these sessions as an alternative to a lunch tied to your desk has proven a great investment for everyone involved. Being healthy in body and mind is crucial to our well-being; promoting these activities is just another way that we make IT Services 'a great place to work'.

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