Financial & Professional Services

Wellness Wales – who are the Welsh companies ‘walking the walk’?


The launch of the Welsh Government’s Economic Action Plan (EAP) and the ongoing work of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act has pushed the theme of wellness and wellbeing to the top of the Welsh workplace agenda and has become a crucial element of the Welsh Government’s approach to governance.

The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act’s overarching intention is to create a Wales that we all want to live in now and in the future, and the EAP has used this theme to focus on interventions to equip people, businesses and places with the tools they need to shape their own futures.

The EAP has a bold vision of facilitating an economy that delivers sustainable and inclusive growth, opportunities for all and promotes individual and collective well-being. This vision underpins all seven well-being goals and is essential to the realisation of a prosperous Wales; a resilient Wales; a healthier Wales; and a more equal Wales.

So how does this plan translate to the average Welsh workplace? And who are the companies already representing this ethos and putting these values into practice?

We looked at two Welsh companies who are leading the way; Moneypenny in North Wales, whose offices have been designed with staff wellbeing and happiness firmly in mind and Admiral Group in South Wales, which has just been voted the third best big company to work for in the UK.

Wrexham-based Telephone answering service, Moneypenny, is one of the most sought-after employers in North Wales, with a staff absence rate that is 28 per cent lower than the national average. Its founders Ed Reeves and Rachel Clacher say the entire ethos of the company is to instil a sense of trust and wellbeing in both staff and clients.

Moneypenny has created a workspace that reflects this philosophy, with a new state-of-the-art HQ designed with specific features requested by its employees. The triple-height atrium is topped by a treehouse that is used as a meeting room and opens onto social spaces laid out like a village green.

All staff have access to a café offering free healthy breakfasts, coffee, subsidised home-cooked lunches, a sun deck with parasols and picnic blankets, and even an office pub appropriately called The Dog and Bone, with doors out to seven landscaped acres with a duck pond, wetlands and nature trails.

Incredible interiors aside, wellbeing runs through the heart of the company’s policies too – although there are no company ‘rules’ as such, apart from not eating lunch at your desk to encourage active and sociable breaks. Throughout the day there are the likes of pilates classes, life coaches, slimming clubs and craft workshops. Childcare support is offered in the form of vouchers and parents are able to organise their working hours flexibly around school pick-ups.

In South Wales, Admiral Group has just been recognised and awarded for its commitment to staff wellbeing for the 18th year in a row. The Cardiff-based insurance company has been named as one of the best companies in Britain to work at for the 17th year running by The Sunday Times and is the only UK company to make the list of best companies every year since it began in 2001.

The company offers its employees reward and recognition in the form of childcare vouchers, free gym membership, free fruit and free legal and mortgage planning advice.

Its popular Staff Share Scheme has also proven a draw for staff over the years. Each employee receives up to £3,600 worth of company shares every year and employees can sell their shares after three years; or keep them for five years and then sell them tax and NI free.

Training and professional development is also part of Admiral’s successful staff wellbeing approach, with all staff supported by dedicated trainers as well as managers.

Employees can request ‘on the job’ training through the Admiral Academy and access e-learning courses. The Admiral Academy is an accredited provider of ILM courses, giving its staff the chance to earn a nationally recognized qualification.

Admiral has been particularly praised for its approach to staff health and wellbeing, achieving the Gold Award in the Corporate Health Standard. The company runs a Ministry of Health with a focus on maintaining and promoting a high quality of health and wellbeing in the workplace. Admiral works closely with the likes of Stop Smoking Wales, NHS Direct, Sing and Inspire, and Stress in the Workplace to ensure staff’s physical and mental health is covered. The Ministry of Health also promotes Admiral’s free fruit programme, free gym passes, and health challenges, which hundreds of staff get involved with every week.

With profit, growth and expansion a constant for Admiral and Moneypenny, both companies are excellent role models and a showcase for the positive all-round benefits of putting wellbeing in the workplace straight to the top of the business to-do list here in Wales.

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