Ocado Group’s Global Head of Health & Wellbeing, Arti Kashyap-Aynsley, will be joining us at this year’s MADWorld Summit on 21st October as a judge for the TechTalk session. In this profile interview, she shares clear thinking on what organisations need to do to ensure mental health and wellbeing remain a priority and are embedded as business as usual post-COVID.
First, can you tell us a bit about your professional background at Ocado. How did you come into your role looking after workplace mental health and wellbeing?
Professional background wise, I recently joined Ocado in April of 2021, as their Global Head of Health & Wellbeing. Previous to this I have spent my entire career in the professional services environment, where I initially qualified as a Chartered Accountant that worked across the audit, advisory, tax and management consultancy professions all across the Globe.
For me Health and Wellbeing is something that has always been ingrained in all I do. Having grown up with my own personal health and wellbeing challenges, I was always quite linked to the industry as a personal interest and then as I started working and experiencing things like stress, burnout, anxiety, and so many other aspects that come with living a life of high pace, stress and volatility I recognised the impacts of not taking care of yourself and / or prioritising your health and wellbeing.
All of this combined really got me interested in understanding how we could influence and impact leaders and organisations to support the health and wellbeing of their people which is what really led me down this route a few years ago when I first took on the role as the Health & Wellbeing Leader for the Consulting Practice of Deloitte in the UK.
How long has Ocado had a support programme for staff mental health and wellbeing? Is this a national or international programme?
Historically Ocado has always focused on the health and wellbeing of their people whether through internal initiatives, reward & benefit and other things alike. However the pandemic mixed with the growth of the organisation have highlighted the importance of this agenda which resulted in hiring for my role and starting to look at global coverage vs. national.
What would you say has been the most important aspect of your workplace mental health and wellbeing programme (in general)?
For Ocado the most important aspect of a health and wellbeing programme has been providing support to employees whether through EAP services and / or Apps that we leverage such as Unmind. Our focus has been on ensuring our people feel supported and have the tools to get the support necessary.
Since COVID-19 what has been the most effective aspect of your workplace mental health and wellbeing programme?
Since having only joined in Ocado in April, my reflection on what I have seen and heard is that the most effective aspect of the approach to health and wellbeing has been the ability to have a dialogue through our engagement survey tool. This tool has enabled us to understand what the business is thinking and feeling and thereby allowed us to react / respond accordingly, which was so key during the pandemic.
The pandemic has forced mental and physical health to the top of organisations’ agendas. Our goal is to make sure it remains a priority and becomes embedded as business as usual post-COVID. What practical tips would you offer for people driving this agenda within their workplaces who are struggling to achieve this?
I could not agree more with this point of view and believe organisations will have to understand this as well. If you look at the changing needs / focuses of employees today, the generational shifts are only highlighting the value of agenda topics like this as people begin to make decisions about which employer to join based on topics across the ESG framework – and that is just one of many stakeholder groups that organisations have to manage. Therefore, for anyone roles like this the tips I would offer are the following:
– Understand the art of the possible – look at the maturity of where you are today and where you could go from a health and wellbeing perspective and link that vision to the overall organisational strategy to tell a story that allows stakeholders to also come along with you. Roles like ours are new, and so in many ways leaders and boards are looking to us for our point of view.
– Everyone talks about ROI and so as we get more mature in our offerings we will have the ability to really measure, so don’t be afraid to get into the data and link that data to the financial KPI’s of the business to tell a story
– Leverage leadership – once people join an organisation they grow based on following actions not words, so how can you really impact leadership behaviour and buy-in?
– Understand the industry, the trends, the hot topics, etc. Linking to the first tip listed, as the subject matter expert it is important to know the industry and to know the latest frameworks, policies, etc. to help drive the relevance of your strategy
– Understand your employee base. To design and develop initiatives it is important to really understand what it looks and feels like to be an employee in every aspect of your business, so spend time really getting to know what that looks and feels like.
– Join forces with the agenda’s that are so closely linked such as D&I, Corporate Responsibility and Health and Safety to really share a complete message, business case, etc.
What are you looking forward to most about the MADWorld Summit?
Honestly for me it is about being back in a room with such incredible people looking to have such a positive impact.
The MAD World Summit is on Thursday 21st October, in-person at 133 Houndsditch in Central London. The Summit is the go-to event for employers who want to Make A Difference to workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing. For more information visit the event agenda or to book visit the booking page.