Westfield Health’s director of HR, Fiona Lowe, explains why Westfield House is not just an office, but the hub for health and wellbeing in their very own business.
Describe your business in no more than 100 words
Established in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, almost a century ago, Westfield Health is a national health and wellbeing company. Since 1919 the organisation has been committed to helping people improve their quality of life, offering award-winning health cash plans, hospital treatment insurance and wellbeing services to support the nation in leading healthier, happier and independent lives.
Westfield Health has won praise and accolades for its customer service, and, as an Investors in People organisation (IIP Standard with Silver level award reflecting the very best in people management excellence) – is committed to staff development.
As a not for profit company, Westfield Health has donated nearly £15 million to medically related charities and local communities across the UK.
What kind of workplace do you have?
Westfield House, the home of Westfield Health, is a nine-story building but far from being just an office block. We have redeveloped the building into a hub for health and wellbeing in the heart of Sheffield.
We moved into our new headquarters in August 2016 – cementing our commitment to Sheffield’s emerging new-look city centre and kicking off the start of a new era for our staff, putting health and wellbeing at the centre of what we do.
Westfield Health’s redevelopment of the building includes a spacious new Customer Hub with iPads for self-service options, a roof terrace with 360-degree views overlooking the city, and business enterprise hubs to support the growth of health and wellbeing start-ups.
What makes your workplace special?
Our new office has been designed as a state-of-the-art building with health and wellbeing at the core. It’s helping us to be at the forefront of our sector and to support not just our team and our customers, but also the wider community, thanks to our new strategy embracing developing markets in health, wellbeing and care.
Our staff have access to a free onsite gym and exercise classes, a staff relaxation room with a 24-hour counselling helpline service, mindfulness and resilience training, free fruit basket deliveries and access to our sleep education programme.
The staff room, also known as the ‘playzone’ offers leisure activities including a jukebox and table football. Doodle artist Geo Law - who’s been commissioned by the likes of Facebook, Converse and Microsoft – created a mural in the playzone containing quirky aspects of Sheffield culture and the city’s industrial past, incorporating a strong focus on the concept of wellbeing.
A Sleep Ambassador, James Wilson, also known as ‘The Sleep Geek’, has been appointed and works at the company’s Sheffield headquarters to offer employees a range of group and one-to-one sleep coaching sessions to help them improve their quality of sleep and to improve their productivity and motivation at work.
Westfield House was recognised at the Celebrating Construction in South Yorkshire Awards 2016 after coming out on top in the Project of the Year Over £5m category.
Having such an advanced and wellbeing centric building enables our staff to live and breathe the Westfield Health offering – so when customers ask them how it could help – they’ve got first-hand experience of the benefits.
Who is responsible for making your workplace brilliant?
Commercial Director David Capper takes the lead but is supported by a collaborative approach from the whole team at Westfield Health.
For our new Westfield House development, we asked staff what we could do to make their workplace an inspiring place to be. We had their views in mind as we developed our new headquarters.
David is also leading on a variety of new strategic partnerships we’ve been working on with organisations including Sheffield Hallam University (SHU). We’re a partner of SHU’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) at the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park – recognised by many as the most advanced research centre in the world for physical activity and wellbeing. The AWRC are working to improve the wellbeing of the population by creating innovations that help people move, taking learnings from elite sport to combat our nation’s sedentary lifestyles. From this, we’re confident that we can help our customers improve their quality of life by focusing on ‘what works’ because our approach is grounded on insight, evaluation and fact.
Dave has also taken the lead on our collaboration with Seven Hills Fitness- a health, wellbeing and fitness company offering corporate on-site health and exercise classes and digital health and fitness solutions. We’re working to offer a varied and challenging exercise class programme designed to suit and motivate staff across the country. Experts hold classes on site around working hours for employees of all fitness abilities to raise productivity levels, reduce absenteeism and create a unique opportunity to build stronger relationships across teams and hierarchies, increasing employee engagement and team cohesion.
Working with The Sleep Geek, we’ve developed Sleep Well Work Well, a global sleep education programme which helps staff to understand their sleep habits and achieve better quality rest at night so they feel more alert, motivated and productive at work. We’re currently trialling this programme within a wide range of working environments. We’re also working with James to find and develop other ways of improving our existing health and wellbeing propositions for our workplace and workplaces across the UK.
What made you want to deviate from the standard ‘desk, chair, kettle’ office setup?
In a typical working day, staff across the UK can spend up to 75% of their time sitting at desks which can cause muscular and skeletal problems, so we wanted to create a space that challenged this and encouraged our staff to be more active.
We’ve long known that happy and healthy staff equal a happy and healthy business – it’s something that we pride ourselves in, in our own business - so when it came to creating a new workspace we knew feedback and contributions from our team would be key.
We wanted a building and office set-up that reinforced our organisation’s brand and values and we knew that improving employee satisfaction would help us to further enhance our staff’s strong work ethic. From the fantastic views over the city of Sheffield, to the light and airy workspaces with an extra stair case running through all floors for staff to get those extra steps in, Westfield House isn’t your average office.
Initiatives we’ve developed like the Walking Lunch campaign are a natural extension of our culture - getting businesses to encourage staff to spend their lunch breaks getting active and out of the office. We know that 60% of workers in the UK hardly move from their desks and walking 20 minutes a day can boost physical and mental health. We invited people to get out walking for 20 minutes a day to win prizes in national competition, which logged 69 million steps overall – which is more than the circumference of the Earth.
How does this affect morale, productivity, staff retention?
Westfield Health’s plans and products have been introduced by businesses across the UK as a valuable benefit that improves staff morale, motivation and productivity. By offering these wellbeing services to our own staff, we’re helping employees feel valued and are encouraging them to think proactively about their health and wellbeing.
It only makes sense for us to practice what we preach and ensure our own team members feel just as valued, giving them a workplace that features a gym for them to work out in, a playzone to take a break at, and a roof top terrace to relax on.
Sleep Ambassador James has been at Westfield Health for just a year, but we’ve already seen how much he can help people - his tailored approach works wonders for improving the sleep environment and boosting wellbeing. With so much experience in the field, a number of staff have already benefited from his expertise, by making positive changes to their sleep preparation and routines which enhances their quality of sleep.
What kind of reaction do you get from visitors and clients when they see how you work?
We’ve had nothing but praise and positive feedback from visitors, clients and customers who visit our new HQ – and a fair few comments about ‘office envy’, too!
We recently invited members of the local business community to an official opening event which highlighted the health and wellbeing benefits of the building. We received lots of positive comments, feedback and tweets about our new HQ including from Steve Chu, CEO of Age UK Sheffield and entrepreneur and business champion Jill White.
The move to our new home signifies the start of a new era for Westfield Health, and so we were also thrilled to welcome a visit from the His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester recently who met with representatives from four charities we actively support, before being given a tour of our new HQ, and enjoying lunch on the roof terrace with 360-degree views overlooking the city.
And we’re very proud to say that when local magazine Vibe joined us to see Geo Law ‘doodle’ his mural they even described our playzone as ‘the best staff room ever’!
What other plans do you have to make your workplace even better?
We’re constantly evolving and developing new ideas, offerings and products for our customers and staff, so watch this space for the next health and wellbeing innovation we offer our own staff, and businesses across the UK.
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