Anne-Marie Russell, ACCA

Anne-Marie Russell, ACCA

Wellbeing Consultant

We were absolutely thrilled to welcome Anne-Marie Russell to talk about wellbeing at the Benefex Forum. Anne-Marie spearheaded an all-encompassing employee wellbeing programme at global professional accountancy body, ACCA, and she shared their inspirational story with us – a story that picked up two employee wellbeing awards along the way.

Following her fascinating presentation, our delegates had a few questions for Anne-Marie, and we’re pleased to say she’s been able to share her insights with us:

Anne-Marie – one of the stand-out elements of your scheme is the training programme that you’ve put together for managers and employees. How did you ensure high take-up of this training?

The key was initially involving managers and key stakeholders in the insights with our wellbeing provider Let’s Get Healthy and allowing them to contribute to the content. We also asked their advice on how we should communicate the training programme and the best times in the year for us to run the workshops based on us avoiding business critical times.

We then ran a pilot and asked those who attended to go back to their colleagues and share some of the learnings. We ran a campaign using our intranet site, our digital screens, leaflets and a pop-up banner. After each workshop I published an article on our intranet site sharing some of the photographs of activities and testimonials. We also asked those who attended the training to talk about their learnings at team meetings. We launched the wellbeing toolkits whilst the workshops were still being rolled out and published these on our intranet site with a video.

You mentioned that it was a long-term plan which wouldn’t see its most impactful results for a couple of years. How did you get buy-in from the board for this approach, knowing you wouldn’t necessarily prove that there would be immediate ROI and wellbeing improvement?

This can definitely be a challenge but the key is to engage with your stakeholders from the outset. I set out the plans, why I felt this was the best approach for us to take, and talked about what I believed the differences would be to the business. I was able to stress that it wasn’t something that would happen overnight, and also used an example of a similar organisation to ours with a similar programme and shared the improvements they’d made. I attended leadership team meetings on a regular basis to talk through progress and was able to show quite quickly the positive impact in some areas but still stressing that it would be long term before we would see the full impact. It can be difficult to measure wellbeing but one of the most powerful tools I used was testimonials from employees.

With this long-term strategy (you mentioned a three-year plan), is the ideal goal for your wellbeing plan to be something that’s so embedded, employees don’t necessarily notice it, it’s just part of work? How do you maintain engagement with the initiatives?

When I started on this journey one of my objectives was for wellbeing to become part of our DNA; I didn’t want it to be seen as something we do for a period of time, tick a box and move on. It has to be something that is embedded within the culture the same as you would implement and embed other processes in your business.

Whilst we want it to be embedded and be part of who we are, it is also important to maintain engagement so it doesn’t get lost. You need to refresh your initiatives, make sure you’re looking at different topics, training etc. and not just continually rolling out the same programme. It’s about thinking about doing things differently so that it feels like something new.

Have you managed to embed your wellbeing strategy as part of your onboarding for new starters?

We are not at this stage yet. The ideal for any organisation is to have a three-year wellbeing strategy with year one being the pilot year and the next two years building on this and tailoring it dependant on business needs. The longer-term goal should be to have wellbeing embedded into the employee journey from the point of applying for a role, it being part of their induction through building into training programmes for people managers and the wider employee population. This comes back to it being part of the DNA of the organisation.

My ACCA Benefits

If you would like to find out more about ACCA’s award-winning wellbeing scheme – including all of the initiatives for their culture, their benefits, and their people strategy, you can read their full case study here.

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Anne-Marie Russell, ACCA

Anne-Marie Russell, ACCA

Wellbeing Consultant

Anne-Marie Russell is a Wellbeing Consultant at ACCA.