Improving health and happiness of Wunderers

Published: 31.1.2023
Author: Agnese Kocere, Head of Talent
Categories: Culture
Reading time: 9 min
Hand with wellbeing topics

In the first half of 2022, we implemented Wunder-wide wellbeing campaign to raise knowledge about important aspects of mental health, provide tools, and help to protect ourselves from getting into the danger zone of burnout. Now we are sharing how this campaign went, what we gained, and what we learned from it.

Wellbeing is most commonly defined as the state of feeling healthy and happy. Sounds simple and clear and not complex at all. Still, many of us are struggling with keeping up the positive energy and the past year’s global and political events haven’t been helpful at all.

According to OECD researchopens in a new tab done during the pandemic, one out of every four persons has been at risk of depression or anxiety, one out of five has reported feeling lonely, but one out of three has felt left out of society (where in 2016 there were one out of 13 persons reporting the same). And these data are gathered way before the war in Ukraine had started…

As in all situations, there are always two choices – to be the observers of the ongoing events and their effect on people OR to take action, no matter how big or small impact that would bring. We at Wunder chose the second approach. And I – the Head of the Wunder Talent Team – have the honor to introduce you to it.

High 5 for Wellbeing

As a company, we always have set the wellbeing of Wunderers as one of our top priorities. Still, until the last February, wellbeing topics in Wunder were tackled more at the individual level by local HR people and more as reacting to certain situations when help is needed. The solutions offered in those moments turned out to be tailored for each particular case, thus making us more reactive than proactive. Soon we understood that even though this approach solves the situation, it doesn’t fully support our idea of a unified employee experience and should and could be improved.

Already in 2021, we had started to think about company-wide activities on how to raise our people’s awareness on health and wellness topics and prevent them from “hitting bottom”. The very first activity we came up with was a seminar discussion called “Is it a burnout?”. The event was targeted to our Project and Account managers – the roles that are working in close cooperation with the majority of our employees on an everyday basis. With this workshop, we aimed to raise the discussion of the signs when one’s wellbeing has been affected negatively. As a result, we gathered insights on how to recognize and catch early signs of poor wellbeing.

During this fruitful discussion, Oksan, one of our Project Managers, shared an experience from her previous workspace and how the concept of the Hand of Mental Healthopens in a new tab was used. And right from this example, the idea of our 5-month-long wellbeing campaign was born. As the Hand of Mental Health defines 5 areas of mental health, we came up with the idea: each month would be dedicated to one of those important topics – sleeping, eating, speaking, moving, and relaxing. And as we truly believe that a very significant part of our wellbeing lies in our own hands; from this belief also grew the slogan “High 5 for wellbeing”.

Since the main goal of the campaign was to raise awareness, it was important for us to explain to our employees that we all are individuals with specific experiences and needs. Any opinion opened up during this initiative shouldn’t be taken as the one and only truth: more like a conversation opener for that particular subtopic under wellbeing. If someone was facing some health issues, special diets, adjusted workout plans, etc., they were reminded to consult with their healthcare provider or corresponding specialist.

"I started to digest the sleep topic more only because of Wellbeing campaign and need to say I really learned a lot and enjoyed this. The more I dig in, the more I feel interested, especially because sleep is something we have every day."


Campaign outline

The High 5 for Wellbeing -campaign was kickstarted on February 2022, and each month one of five important wellbeing topics was brought into the spotlight:

  • February – I sleep. Sleep and rest.
  • March – I eat. Eating habits and food.
  • April – I speak. Personal relationships and emotions.
  • May – I move. Exercise, shared activities, and mindfulness.
  • June – I relax. Creativity, pleasure, and hobbies.

Through informative content and various activities, we aimed to draw our employee’s attention to the importance of these specific areas and how they impact their life quality. Despite the seriousness of the themes, we wanted the campaign to bring a light and fun feeling, therefore we chose to use the gamification elements and offered smaller, but several activities thus getting the employees attention and willingness to participate. The events and activities prepared for each month (and for each topic) were:

  • External expert lecture and Q&A session. These online webinars were also available for IT professionals outside of our organization.
  • Good practice and valuable resource recommendations along with an invitation to share one’s own experience stories. As a result, we now have a database of videos, audio content, and books, as well as recommendations and reviews of applications and available technologies for each of the topics.
  • Fun survey to get to know ourselves better and see what habits Wunderers are holding.
  • Some fun activities, like Pyjama day, online workouts with physiotherapists, speed networking online activity, and others.
  • Challenging task with a chance to win a valuable prize. Like “Share your dream”, “Be active and walk or run 50+ km per month”, “Show your talents”, etc.
  • Innovation Chamomile Tea Time meetings with employees to come up with ideas on how the newly gained knowledge can be put into practice to improve our daily work.
  • Checklist of healthy habits – to easily assess and improve the desired areas.

With the help of our Marketing team, we walked the extra mile and turned the expert lectures into a public Wunder Wellbeing Webinar series specially tailored for all IT professionals. The webinar recordings and takeaways (for the sessions where recordings are no longer public) are still available, so feel free to check them out.

Measures and gains

At Wunder, we nurture an open and accepting culture, which also interprets in people’s openness to new ideas and initiatives. Even more, the wellbeing topic as such was brought up by the employees themselves – during the second year of the pandemic wellbeing had become one of the most discussed topics in our everyday life. Therefore, we didn’t doubt that such a campaign will be noticed and appreciated. And as we strongly believe that sharing is caring, making the webinars public and available to all IT professionals was only a logical step on our part.

We are optimists, but we are also realists; therefore we didn’t expect 60% of employee engagement, which would be considered a very high engagement level. Considering all the background and workload during that particular period, our expectations were as high as 20-30% of employee engagement, and that’s exactly what we reached. The highest interest was for fun poll activities (at the beginning of each month) and webinars hosted by experts in the particular field. In some months the involvement in these two activities reached even 40%.

Worthy to emphasize that in our case the goal was not quantity. As I already mentioned, in terms of work, the first half of the previous year was a very busy time for most of the Wunderers. Therefore we provided several non-time-consuming activities, so everyone could have the opportunity to participate or just take a moment to think about the monthly wellbeing topic. And if thinking from this perspective, here again, we hit the target as our employees’ overall rating for the campaign is 7.5 (on a scale of 1-10). Which for such an initiative is a very good score.

In addition, we thought as far-reaching as possible – we wanted the benefit from this campaign to be long-lasting. Almost all of the campaign materials are still available and can be used by every Wunderer – those who could not participate while the campaign was ongoing, the ones who want to re-visit and review the topics as well as the new employees. The topic of wellbeing will never diminish, and its importance in the future will only increase.

"I honestly found myself too busy with work to participate in most of the wellbeing workshops however the coloring kits we were given have been very therapeutic for me."


Looking back

The campaign period was quite long, therefore the campaign core team experienced some changes in staff and had to adjust to the situations (also the global ones) fairly quickly. At the end of the campaign, as it is usually done at Wunder, we had a retrospective to discuss the things that went well and learn from those that could be improved.

The main things that let us succeed with this Wellbeing campaign were the close collaboration between Marketing and Talent Teams that ensured an aligned vision on both internal and external events along with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. A nice way to raise awareness among employees was to ask some of them to become the ambassadors of the month and share their personal stories on the monthly topic.

Also, the challenging task activity with a chance to win a valuable prize turned out to be really fun, entertaining, and even eye-opening. As mainly the tasks were about sharing something more personal like one’s dreams, talents, unusual food combinations, etc, it was a chance to get to know each other better. And in the (still) pandemic times, it also created a feeling of togetherness.

And if we would decide to implement a similar initiative again, then we definitely would go for a 3-month campaign instead of a 5-month one. Mostly due to the fact that both for organizers and also for participants the enthusiasm decreased significantly, especially in the last couple of months. And another not fully used opportunity was a higher involvement of Wunderers already before the campaign. Instead of guessing what would be the best topics or experts to bring up each month, we could have asked them to make sure we are offering activities that they would appreciate and benefit from the most.

My personal favorite quote is an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” And if I need to summarize all of the findings and highlight the key to the success of the campaign, I would say that a motivated core team and well-structured teamwork are one of the most important things to succeed. And I feel honored that I had the privilege to work with an excellent team to make this idea of wellbeing campaign become a reality.

"If with this campaign we can help even a handful of Wunderers not "to hit the red line", this campaign is a success."

Agnese Kocere, Head of Talent, Wunder

Looking forward

With this campaign we have done a tremendous job by collecting insights – suggestions from our employees, the newest findings gathered from speakers, and discussions we had with our people after webinars. Wellbeing isn’t something that one can ever have enough of; therefore this year we will continue to improve our processes and environment to aim for an even more supportive environment for our employees both collectively and individually.

Looking back to the point where we were before the campaign, I can say that in a way we have returned to the starting point, yet we are much more experienced and much better equipped. The questions related to wellbeing topics remain the same – how to spot early signs indicating that the level of wellbeing is falling, what tools to offer to employees, and what support systems to activate at the relevant moments. Those are our answers that differ.

And as I mentioned earlier – the relevance of this topic will only increase. Because more and more people are starting to realize what impact our wellbeing makes on our productivity and our standard of living. And if you haven’t raised the question already, this might be a good moment to ask yourself – what do I do to improve my wellbeing?

Wellbeing is not a destination, it is a journey and we would be happy to take our next steps of a sustainable growth path together with you!

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