By Katie Miles •

Employee Wellbeing At Parallax

Employee wellbeing has always been more than just a tick box exercise at Parallax.

It’s true that a comprehensive wellbeing framework improves performance levels from staff, but, at Parallax, it goes way beyond that. As a forward-thinking agency, our staff members’ wellbeing is always at the forefront of our agenda.

At Parallax, we think differently

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when creating a health and wellbeing strategy. Everyone deals with their mental and physical wellbeing differently, and that’s why we take a proactive approach and listen to our colleagues.

Our wellbeing process is constantly being updated (more than ever since we were hurled into a worldwide pandemic). However, the ‘keep talking’ approach, collating ideas and welcoming regular feedback has undoubtedly helped us create a hub of fantastic resources that we believe maintains a happy, creative working culture.

We spend a considerable amount of time at work, and that is why it is important to us to make our time in and out of the office fun for everyone. Some of the ways in which we create a fun and rewarding atmosphere are:

Spin the wheel

For every team member’s birthday and work anniversary; they get to spin the Parallax Wheel of Fortune, which includes an array of prizes such as tickets to Leeds arena, half-day holiday, vouchers for spas and restaurants and the infamous ‘Box of Parallax’. We also throw in a birthday cake or some sweet treats for good measure to celebrate these occasions.

Team Activities

Pre-Covid, we always scheduled a quarterly team event to give team members the chance to relax and socialise. Events we have run in the past include: Escape rooms, go-karting, footgolf, in-office spa days, junkyard golf and bowling – just to name but a few! In addition, we’ve also surprised the company with spontaneous team lunches and held our annual summer and Christmas parties, which always go down a storm!

Fortnightly 1-1’s

Having frequent 1-1 sessions opens up the gateway to a conversation with managers more regularly, rather than waiting months or sometimes quarterly for catch-ups. This way, any concerns can be raised and dealt with quickly and efficiently.

Flexible Working Hours

We operate a flexible working policy for all team members to help them manage their work-life balance.

Annual Headspace Subscription

To help team members practice mindfulness and to help relax and unwind.

At the start of 2020, Covid-19 hit and, like many other businesses, our whole way of working completely changed. As our team’s safety is paramount, we took an early decision to close the office and shift everyone to remote working.

Health and Wellbeing During a Pandemic

We were well aware that the uncertainty around the pandemic and the country being in lockdown would have some severe repercussions regarding our general wellbeing. From self-isolation, anxiety around the virus, the barrage of media stories with the rising numbers of cases and fatalities, and worries around finance and home security, it was vital that we kept in constant communication with our team members. We did this by regular updates regarding Covid-19, and how we were putting measures in place to make the office Covid-safe for when we could eventually return to work. We also created a collaborative document with various ideas and suggestions on how to keep occupied during the lockdown and furloughed periods. We organised a team running club and also decided, as well as 1-1’s, to run regular wellbeing catch-ups, and involved everyone in ideas for raising morale within the team and virtual events that we could do together.

Over this last year, we have introduced many wellbeing initiatives to keep all of our employees engaged and well connected, reassuring that we are always here if they need support in any capacity.

We have run Halloween pumpkin carving and Christmas jumper competitions, Jackbox Games/Quiz nights, Friday night takeaway and drinks over Zoom. We have sent out a wellbeing/self-care hamper to everyone at Christmas, including items such as: Vitamin D supplements, herbal tea, hand sanitiser and water bottles to help keep track of our water intake.

Our Christmas party last year involved sending out a three-course meal for our staff and partners to enjoy, plus a virtual Christmas quiz.

More recently, we have introduced: Virtual coffee mornings, daily self-care tips that are posted into our team Slack channel, collaborative Spotify playlists (we have discovered quite a few guilty pleasures from this one)!

Like everyone, we’re starting to feel a little Zoomed out recently, so we’re now focusing on team events that don’t always involve constantly sitting in front of our screens. We have tried our hand at pizza making, by sending out boxes of ingredients. This month, we have introduced our brand new initiative, ‘Give a gift’, where each member of the team is given a budget so they can purchase a surprise gift for another Parallax team member, and also a gift for someone outside of Parallax, who may have helped or supported them throughout the pandemic. The idea behind this is to brighten someone’s day and lift spirits whilst still in lockdown.

As a company, we are heavily invested in our staff’s wellbeing and are always looking at ways to continue improving. Looking ahead, we are training members of our team to become mental health first aiders, as well as planning more virtual team events for the near future, including a step count challenge. We are currently in talks with all team members regarding returning to the office and preferences around office/remote working as restrictions gradually ease throughout the UK.

As Office Manager, I am super proud of all of our team members, who have coped brilliantly throughout the several lockdown periods and taken everything in their stride; they have been open and honest regarding feelings around the pandemic. We don’t have a magic formula when it comes to employee wellbeing, however, we do have directors and managers who genuinely care about their employees, and the most significant investment has been ‘time’. Time to listen to what our team needs, what support they would like to see in place and tools and resources to help navigate our way through such a precarious time and beyond.

We’re more than just an agency or a team; we’re friends, we support each other, and that has been our driving force around employee wellbeing.