A guest post written by Alexa Stewart, Associate Director of Cirkle
This is something I am pretty passionate about and why I was keen to get involved in the ongoing evolution of Cirkle’s wellbeing programme – ‘Wellbeing in the round’. Cirkle, if you don’t know it, is a majority employee-owned PR & Digital agency, with clients including PepsiCo, Birds Eye, Ferrero, GSK, Pernod Ricard, Morrisons, Bosch Smart Home and Energizer.
Approximately one in four people will experience a mental health problem in the UK each year, but what you may not know is that within the comms sector, that figure rises to one in three. I have been at Cirkle for over six years and so far, I am one of the lucky two out of three who haven’t struggled with their mental health, but that still leaves one in three, that do.
We feel strongly that Cirkle has a role to play in supporting our teams through any period of difficulty and that’s where I think we can harness positive change.
Creating a supportive environment has always been part of our DNA culture at Cirkle, but our enhanced Wellbeing in the Round programme earlier this year has helped cement a framework which every single one of our team can access. We want our teams to be as happy and healthy as possible and our bespoke suite of mind, body & soul initiatives has been well received. Activities include a series of wellbeing days as well as talks from mental health charity Mind, mindfulness sessions, resilience workshops, an Employee Assistance Programme and free bi-weekly exercise classes. Our most recent wellbeing team day ran in October, and as well as specific training workshops from experts in their fields including a mindfulness session from a ‘Monk on a Motorbike’, we were also treated to manicures, pedicures and massages throughout the day – and a salad bar!
I am a firm believer that it’s also the little things that can make the world of difference. I am not sure how many other companies have a dedicated room in their office – ‘The Lounge’, where individuals are encouraged to take some time out if they need it. The room is complete with comfy sofas, candles, stress balls, mindfulness colouring books and an array of useful guides and books – we call it the ‘wellbeing toolbox’ – it definitely trumps Bob the Builder’s! More often than not it’s just a quiet space to problem-solve, be an ear to a colleague you think could do with a chat, and generally put the world to rights.
Our commitment to tackling mental health head on ramped up earlier this Autumn when we joined over 800 organisations, to sign the Time to Change Pledge. Time to Change is the social movement run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness charities which support people in opening up to talk about mental health problems. By signing the pledge, as a business we have made a series of commitments to our employees to roll-out over the course of next year. We hope this move continues to build and help change the way our teams think and act about mental health in the workplace.
Alexa Stewart is an Associate Director at Cirkle and has been at the company for over six years, specialising in trade and foodservice communications. Alexa was a volunteer listener for the Samaritans for nearly two years, which spurred her interest in mental health, which she champions at Cirkle through a role as a ‘Wellbeing Warrior. The ‘warriors’ are a group of individuals at Cirkle who drive the company’s mental health agenda and are accessible to anyone within the agency that require support.