Santander: keeping staff wellbeing at front of mind
COVID-19: Our members taking responsible business action
As part of efforts to tackle the potential psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its staff, Business in the Community member Santander is rapidly taking steps to support colleagues physical, mental, social and financial wellbeing:
“Supporting all our colleagues to achieve and maintain wellbeing has always been a priority, but never more so than during this challenging time. With so many of us now working from home for a sustained period, we’re working through the new environment we find ourselves in and are taking every step possible to place employee wellbeing at a premium and to limit potential burnout.”Damien Shieber, Head of Culture and Inclusion, Santander
Live chat with psychologists and expanded emergency support
Santander has given all colleagues free and immediate access to psychologists at the touch of a button through the Thrive: Mental Wellbeing app. This app makes it easier for colleagues to ask for and receive support.
The bank has also enhanced its emergency support offering so that its employee assistance provider can proactively contact colleagues who have been identified as in need of additional support, and virtual counselling for more complex cases.
Keeping up to date
A new coronavirus colleague communication hub has been created. This is accessible through personal devices to ensure colleagues can access the latest news, information and wellbeing support whenever and wherever they need it.
This central location has been accompanied by clear and timely communications, including information on how Santander is supporting colleagues through school closures, and identifying and supporting vulnerable colleagues or those with financial concerns.
Encouraging successful home working
Understandably, Santander is anticipating an increase in stress from a combination of isolation, change in how to manage people and personal difficulties linked to uncertainty and anxiety around COVID-19.
They have identified potential unhealthy “habits” of working at home. These include working longer hours, unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity and checking emails at night and weekends. The bank is taking steps to counteract these through new initiatives and an ongoing communications campaign to promote wellbeing.
Santander has recorded a suite of wellbeing webinars on key topics related to the coronavirus. Topics include, coping with social distancing, coping with adversity and switching off, building momentum and awareness. Alongside this, its wellbeing hub is constantly being updated with guidance for colleagues spending an increasing amount of time at home.
Staying connected… and disconnecting
Santander’s people networks have been integral in helping colleagues stay connected by hosting virtual tea and chat sessions. These provide colleagues with an opportunity to connect away from their normal work, sharing tips on how they are maintaining mental wellbeing and establishing healthy new routines at home. These sessions are being replicated by teams across the bank as they recognise these social connections are key to overall wellbeing.
Santander’s executive committee and senior leaders are leading from the front by promoting a Wellbeing Hour each day. This means not scheduling any meetings between 13:00 to 14:00 and encouraging all colleagues in non-customer facing roles to apply the same principle where possible. This is to help colleagues focus on their wellbeing away from their screens.
Ongoing risk assessment
Working throughout the pandemic can present personal challenges. In order to understand its workforce’s mental wellbeing, Santander it undertaking research to identify the stages and interventions it needs to go through to support colleagues at this time. As a significant amount of their workforce is now working from home, this modelling moves the majority of its workforce into “at risk”, with a higher number that may need complex support and interventions.
Damien Shieber, Head of Culture and Inclusion, Santander, said:
“Supporting all our colleagues to achieve and maintain wellbeing has always been a priority, but never more so than during this challenging time. With so many of us now working from home for a sustained period, we’re working through the new environment we find ourselves in and are taking every step possible to place employee wellbeing at a premium and to limit potential burnout.
“We’re aware that we can’t assume a one-size-fits-all approach to remote working, as each person’s circumstance is different, so throughout this time, we will continue to have in place a suite of communications, guidance documents, toolkits and access to learning (such as our wellbeing webinars) on our learning platform and coronavirus hub available to all.”
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