Rosie Birchenough

In the first blog of our series, we explored risks to if wellbeing was not proactively managed and integrated into business strategy. What does good look like? Who’s doing it well and what can we learn from them? Watch the full event here and check out series 1 and 2 of the Wellbeing blogs.

Rosie Birchenough and Rebecca McEwan, Co-Chairs of the dentsu Wellbeing Committee, showcased the strategy and presented the Committee’s plans for 2021 and beyond.

The strategy focuses on educating, supporting, and empowering each person to look after their mental health and that of their colleagues and involves a consistent programme of weekly, monthly, and quarterly events, from mindfulness to desk yoga, podcasts to panels with psychologists, coaches, and experts. The Committee brings together our people to connect and learn – and importantly, reduce the stigma of talking about mental health.

Mental health is something we all have - our ambition is to normalise talking about it in the workplace, with our leadership speaking out to create the psychological safety that invites their teams to also be open and share. With a robust network of Wellbeing Ambassadors across all areas of the business, the Committee is close to the everyday experiences of our people.

Surinder Simmons, Chief People Officer for Hearst Europe shared how their wellbeing strategy aims to create parity between physical and mental health in terms of the support available and to open up the conversation around mental health.

Hearst trained up Mental Health First Aiders who support 1-2-1 with people who are struggling and created a forum for MHFAs to meet monthly with a Senior Leadership Team sponsor to bring feedback from their teams and discuss everything from ideas for policy change to the planning of initiatives and events.

Additional plans for 2021 include:

    • Rolling out more manager training – in-depth sessions which will be an essential part of the standard management training programme
    • New benefits launch – six free private therapy sessions each year for all people, including CBT and bereavement counselling
    • Relaunching sickness policy– to be more inclusive of mental health sick days and incorporating MHFA recommendations

As Hearst and other businesses look ahead to the Future of Work, insights from employees showed 3 main areas of focus:

Flexibility and Time Off

It is proving tough to switch off through the day, and working hours have taken on a whole new meaning, so Hearst invited people to flex their working hours to support their wellbeing, from caring responsibilities through to maximising daylight hours through winter. Hearst proactively held an ‘Invitation to take a break’ - in everyone’s diaries from 12.30 – 2pm. This is optional and allows people to flex where needed but gives tangible permission and encourages taking time out.

Upskilling and Empowering Managers

Hearst ensured all managers arranged 121 support conversations with their team, with focus on any flexibility in work or in role they needed during this time. Hearst held Mental Health Awareness sessions for all managers, provided additional recourses, with a focus on managing and supporting remotely, and updated the Manager’s Mandate to ensure expectations were 100% clear. Hearst continued with the regularly scheduled Career Conversations, but added extra focus and consideration for the different and challenging year

Support for Home Schoolers

Hearst recognised that the national lockdown leaves parents with no choice but to home-school, whatever their circumstances. Hearst created a forum to share recommendations from our working parents and offered additional leave.

Hearst continues to survey the business to learn more about employee priorities in future of work and what support looks like for them. This includes everything from equipment requirements to maintaining culture as we move to a more remote working model, and reviewing policies to bring them up to date with the new ways of working.


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