Me: How has the new Asda Wellbeing Hub helped?

Last week, Part One of my interview with Damian Kitson and Paul Dover, from UK retailer Asda, looked at the role of employee health and wellness at Asda, what Asda’s Wellbeing Week is all about and what’s behind the newly-launched Wellbeing Hub.
You can read Part One here. We hope you enjoy Part Two below.
And, to learn more about our Employee Health & Wellness Commitment and how to get started, visit our online toolkit, which has a chapter dedicated to this commitment. If you’re already implementing employee health and wellness programmes, but haven’t taken part in our annual survey, do so now. The deadline is 16th September! We need your help to showcase how our industry is supporting its employees and taking positive actions to empower people around the world to adopt healthier diets and lifestyles.

Damian: I have had a number of colleagues who have said ‘wow – I just needed to get away from my desk to clear my head and it really helped’. There is also a wellness buddy system in place based in the room where colleagues, who are there to listen, are on hand if colleagues just need a friendly ear. The uptake of this and the feedback I have personally received has proven to me the value of the space as part of a fast paced organisation like Asda.
Paul: We are ‘manning’ the Hub with drop in sessions hosted by colleagues on the Disability and Mental Health Steering Group. Anecdotal feedback has been amazing with colleagues discussing issues with us and their Managers on bipolar, ante-natal, anxiety, depression and bereavement. There was no appropriately calming and private location for such discussions before the Hub.
It has provided a place for discussion between Colleagues and Managers and as a totem it has stimulated a debate regarding wellness in the Asda Workplace. 
We are waiting on some formal insight from an online survey of all Asda House Colleagues.
Me: What’s next for employee health and wellness at Asda?
Damian: Over the last four years we have created a strong foundation, a voice for Physical and Mental disabilities. The colleagues are really engaged in the agenda and we now need to reach out to the operational teams and continue to support them in the same way.
I personally have now moved over to the US to start a two year assignment. The group now have new leadership, who I know will take the agenda onto bigger and better things.
Paul: We will be hosting events for Colleagues on World Mental Health Day on 10th October and other home offices will open their own Hubs, which is fantastic.  
We are working on policy changes, that embed good practice and improves the consistency of support on offer and 2017 will see us take the Hub idea and land a variant to the 170,000 colleagues who are not based in Asda House but in stores and depots across the UK. 
Me: What’s your advice for other companies looking to implement an employee health and wellness programme?
Damian: Keep it simple and care for your colleagues. Give Line Managers the tools to support colleagues and give colleagues easy access to the support available in your organisation. 
The biggest win has been to engage the wider company through storytelling – people who are brave enough to share their journey and then to pay forward their time to support others. 
Allow the momentum to grow organically within a framework and your colleagues will guide you as to what they want, rather than you giving them what you think they need.
Paul: Senior stakeholder engagement, via a major Exec Sponsor(s), is really important. Be bold, brave and challenge the business to ‘do the right thing’.
Harness the power of volunteers as once it begins good people step up and stay in sight of the long term goal as the pace may be slower than you would like. It’s important to understand and react knowing that embedding true behavioural change has a pace of its own.

Many thanks to the Asda team, and Damian and Paul, in particular, for taking the time to speak to us about employee health and wellness at Asda. There is some great advice here for other companies looking to implement such programmes and, if you have any questions or want to learn more about the CGF’s Employee Health & Wellness Commitment, contact the CGF Health & Wellness team at
Until next time…

CGF-Sharon-Bligh-BWThis post was written and contributed by:
Sharon Bligh
Director, Health & Wellness
The Consumer Goods Forum