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Many employers understand the relationship between the health of their employees and the health of their business. Globally, almost two-thirds of companies with effective health and productivity programmes believe they perform better than their competitors. Many CGF members know that when they focus on mitigating the impact of things like Non-Communicable Diseases and stress, and make it easier for their employees to pursue healthier lifestyle choices, the company does well while the employees live better lives.
 
The importance of employee health and wellness for CGF members was highlighted in 2014, when the implementation of such programmes was turned into a public commitment with a 2016 end date.  Since then, we’ve heard a number of great stories from our members on how they are meeting this commitment, and data in our annual survey shows that progress is indeed being made. 
 
UK retailer Asda, for example, takes employee health and wellness to heart. In July this year, health and wellness was at the centre of week-long event at its headquarters at Asda House, culminating in the opening of its new Wellness Hub – a safe space solely for colleague use. 
 
It was with delight, therefore, that I recently caught up with Asda’s Damian Kitson and Paul Dover to learn more about the Wellbeing Hub and Asda’s Wellbeing Week.
 

Me: Who are you and what's your role at Asda?Asda Wellbeing Hub - Dave Kitson, Paul Dover
 
Damian: I am a qualified accountant and have been with Asda for 16 years, holding various roles across the Finance team. I have also been the Chair of the Disability and Mental Health Steering group for the last four years.
 
Paul: I have held several Commercial positions at Asda over nearly 10 years – from Customer Planning, Buying and Marketing. I am currently the Local Marketing Manager. 
 
Me: How would you describe employee health and wellness at Asda?
 
Damian: Asda’s culture is very much built on family roots. Whilst retail is a tough environment, and can be hard work at times, teams certainly find the time to break from routine and make sure that we have downtime.
 
Paul: Retail is tough and the UK market is the toughest in the world - but Asda has an amazing, unique culture that shines through despite the retail market challenges. 
 
In both stores and offices, Asda has a great deal of colleague support in place - however colleagues and Managers are not always aware of what’s available, therefore support can be inconsistent and/or be reliant on a Manager’s empathy and experience.
 
Me: What is "Colleague Wellbeing Week" and how did you guys celebrate it?
 
Damian: The Wellbeing Week was the idea of one of our colleagues. She brought a group of people together to really drive home the importance of colleague wellbeing. It was a week-long event with lots going on, but the main aim was to show colleagues what wellbeing can be, share tips, tools and even some more physical techniques which can help to calm the mind. These included exercise, yoga, meditation, physiotherapy and acupuncture.
 
Paul: It was an event to raise awareness of colleague’s Wellness across the business, the support available to them and to contribute to the aim of stopping the stigma attached to Mental Health.
 
Me: Can you explain what the Asda Wellbeing Hub is?
 
Damian: The Hub is a space in the Home Office building of Asda House, where colleagues can find solace in moments where a break from the hard routine of a day at work is needed. It is a tranquil space where there is supportive information to help colleagues, both internal support and external providers of wellbeing support, and most importantly it is a message for colleagues in the Home Office building which shows we care. The room is a very private space which will also be used for many wellbeing related activities.
 
Paul: Asda has dedicated this space to the Wellness of all Colleagues, emphasising Mental Health wellbeing. The Hub -
  • is a peaceful space for calm reflection
  • is a reference point where managers and colleagues can access the tools to keep them safe and supported
  • will educate colleagues on the different types of mental health problems we face
  • offers privacy for supportive and sensitive discussions
  • facilitates a programme of activities and therapy sessions
  • will be instantly accessible for the immediate support for colleagues
  • is not a bookable room for business meetings - we trust its used solely for colleague Wellbeing

Catch Part Two of this interview next week, when I’ll be asking about how the Wellbeing Hub has helped, what’s next for employee health and wellness at Asda, and what advice they have for other companies looking to kick-start employee health and wellness programmes.
 
Thanks.
 

Sharon Bligh, Director, Health & Wellness, The Consumer Goods ForumThis post was written and contributed by:
 
Sharon Bligh
Director, Health & Wellness
The Consumer Goods Forum 
 
 
 
Sustainable Retail Summit, The Consumer Goods Forum
 

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