In this unprecedented year, employers have had to protect their employees more than ever before.
Throughout March 2021, Springwise will be exploring the five themes of B Corp Month, starting with how to be a better employer. Springwise, and our partners at Re_Set, are both proud Certified B Corporations.
In a year where the majority of us have been working in drastically altered circumstances, companies have had adapt quickly to preserve the wellbeing of their employees, whether that be mental, physical or financial.
Indeed, although at the beginning of the pandemic the majority of us found the prospect of no more commutes and comfortable working clothes an inviting one, by now the negative aspects of working from home have become clear. Whether this is a sense of loneliness, lack of drive, inability to separate home and work life, or just missing work drinks at the end of the day, many people are now wishing themselves back in the office, at least for part of the time. Employers have found themselves changing protocol and introducing innovative new wellness methods to protect their employees.
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the only aspect of workforce wellness that employers must look out for. Whether it’s the environmental impact of the company or the diversity of the workforce, these are other pressing issues of the day that employers are working hard to address. Here, with B Corp Month in mind, Springwise covers seven of the most creative solutions we’ve seen in recent months.
1. WELLBEING APP ALLOWS COMPANIES TO MONITOR AND SUPPORT EMPLOYEE MENTAL HEALTH
Wellness company Living Ashram’s wellbeing app uses a “whole human approach” which guides users through specially-designed practices including mindful breathing, forgiveness, gratitude and “Deeds of Appreciation”. The daily practices can be completed in 2-15 minutes. The company told Springwise the app has been designed to create “engaged, motivated, thriving teams”.
Users of the app also have access to curated resources with additional information, articles and videos. The goal is to help employees to regain a feeling of purpose, to counter feelings of disconnection and isolation and to help them connect with other employees. Through the app, businesses can also review analytical reports detailing the use and impact of the programme and access customised workshops on areas of particular interest.
2. EMPLOYEE EXERCISE LEADS TO PLANTED TREES THROUGH AN APP
In previous years, German heating, industrial and refrigeration manufacturer Viessmann offered to plant one tree every time one of its employees engaged in a short period of exercise, such as walking 1 km, doing 12 minutes of Pilates, or doing 20 minutes of downhill skiing. A total of 5,000 employees participated in the programme, called #ViMove for Climate, leading to the planting of 150,000 trees. Now, Viessmann has started the program again, only this time it is open to anyone.
The programme uses an app, the ViMove app, that lets participants enter how many kilometres they have covered or how many minutes they have exercised. Users can either connect the app to a fitness tracker or upload screenshots of exercise data collected using other apps – or even a photo of the exercise equipment’s display screen. The app will show users their total activity, as well as how many trees will be planted and how much CO2 they have offset.
3. GREEN ENERGY AS A COMPANY PERK FOR REMOTE WORKERS
Spotted: As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the benefits of working remotely are clear – no commute, more time with family, cheaper living locations. But there are also a few downsides, one of which is a higher energy bill from being home during the day. Now, energy company Arcadia is offering the opportunity for customers to reduce their energy bills and increase the use of renewable energy at the same time.
Arcadia works by matching residential customers with clean energy suppliers. Customers connect their utility accounts to Arcadia, then the company monitors the market and automatically secures the lowest rates for clean energy. Now, Arcadia is offering businesses the chance to offer Arcadia’s services as a perk, replacing the free juice and coffee with cheaper clean energy.
4. A ‘GLASSDOOR’ FOR THE MINORITY WORKFORCE
Spotted: The Dyversifi career reviews platform allows BAME and other underrepresented minority employees, including the disabled and military veterans, to share what it is like at their place of work and also read the stories of what others have experienced. As its Co-Founder Toby Egbuna puts it, it is a “Glassdoor but for minorities.”
Users start by creating a “portrait” — an anonymous profile that contains key demographic information, such as race, age and gender. Dyversifi says this helps others with similar portraits identify with stories that will be relevant to them.
5. APP BUILDS PROFILES BASED ON MUTUAL COMPLIMENTS FROM COLLEAGUES
Spotted: Toulouse-based company ListenLéon has developed an app for work-colleagues and friends to send anonymous compliments, mapping each other’s strengths.
By leaving anonymous positive reviews on each other’s profiles, visible only to the profile owner, ListenLéon aims to foster a movement of viral goodness. There are no likes, no public recognition, no kudos, no fake praise, just pure altruism. In the future, ListenLéon hopes the app can be used in high schools and broader social networks.
Once reviews are left, the artificial intelligence solution collects and analyses the information to create a profile based on the user’s strengths. The idea is that by mapping qualities and being able to anonymously see those of your colleagues, people can ask each other for help. The startup plans to monetise this second step, whilst keeping the review process free.
6. OFFICE DRINKS HELD VIA VIRTUAL REALITY
Spotted: Like many people around the world, employees at the Amsterdam-based creative agency Achtung! have been working remotely over the last year. While workers have been attending meetings via webcam, many have also missed having actual contact with their colleagues. In response, the company have created a virtual reality version of their office and invited all their employees to a drinks party.
The virtual office was built using Mozilla hubs. This is an open-source platform that allows users to share videos and talk to each other in virtual reality. Unlike many VR systems, Mozilla Hubs is accessible from a web browser, as well as being compatible with different VR platforms. It is also relatively easy to use – Achtung! designed its model office in just one week.
7. RESEARCHERS CREATE CUBES TO MONITOR WORKERS’ WELLBEING
Spotted: Researchers at Australia’s Deakin University have created a smart cube that monitors workers’ wellbeing. Cube Comfort Monitors (also known as ‘Baby Cubes’ due to their size) contain sensors that measure conditions in the workplace.
The cubes are small enough to sit on a standard desk. Data on room temperature, humidity, light intensity, light temperature, sound levels and air quality indicators like CO2 and volatile organic compounds, is transmitted to a cloud-based server in real-time. The information is then analysed to reveal problem areas within the room. Office managers can use the information to adjust the room temperature or other issues based on workers’ needs.
Written By: Holly Hamilton
3rd March 2021