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Oracle boosts employee wellbeing through resilience

Oracle boosts employee wellbeing through resilience

“After completing the workshops, employees feel empowered to make profound changes to their lives to increase their emotional health.” 

Michelle Bradshaw, Compensation and Benefits Director for Oracle UK Ltd 

The challenge 

As a global organisation at the forefront of revolutionising the technology industry, Oracle is also pioneering ways to support its workforce to cope with the new challenges and pressures associated with working in an increasingly connected world. 

Michelle Bradshaw, Compensation and Benefits Director for Oracle UK, explains: “The business world is changing dramatically with new technologies changing the way in which our people work. Increased globalisation means working across different time zones, while new cloud technologies are allowing more and more people to work from home, transforming boundaries between work and life.” 

She adds, “We wanted our employees to embrace all the good things new ways of working have to offer but recognised this was already causing some of our employees to suffer from stress. In response we were keen to find a way of helping them to proactively manage their wellbeing so they could make healthy choices about the levels of pressure they were putting themselves under. The overall goal being to increase their ability to stay physically and emotionally healthy.” 

The approach 

When it came to devising an overarching wellbeing strategy, Bradshaw recognised the importance of underpinning Oracle’s entire approach on a mental health foundation, “Mental health affects our ability to motivate ourselves, eat well, exercise and sleep well. If someone suffers from insomnia or eats too much junk, they may well have an issue with sleep or food, but the chances are there’s also a deeper problem around anxiety, depression, or another mental health difficulty that must be addressed for any physical wellbeing initiative to succeed.” 

She adds, “Research shows that wellbeing initiatives based on a mental health strategy generate 300% more ROI than those that don’t, so we appointed Validium, the psychological health experts, to help us better understand the emotional needs of our workforce. The objective was to create a resilience workshop for employees to learn how to proactively manage their mental health to stay healthy under pressure. 

Once that foundation was in place, a ‘Healthy Together’ initiative was planned to further both physical and mental health. For example by offering free fruit, not to be eaten at a desk in isolation, but with a colleague to also encourage proper breaks and social interaction.” 

The solution 

“To get the mental health foundation in place, we used focus group research to understand the emotional needs of employees,” says Michelle. “This revealed that they wanted to know how they could manage their time better, reduce stress levels, improve their physical health and connect more with the community at work.” 

A key challenge faced by Oracle was improving the health of its large community of home workers. “50% of our workforce works from home, which, interestingly, puts them at increased risk of poor health as they’re less likely to take breaks and lack social support,” says Michelle. “Far from using the autonomy they have to slack off, the international nature of our business meant some people were getting up at 5am to talk to Asia, dealing with the UK all day, then America until 11pm. You might be able to do that occasionally, but if you do it several times a week, you’re going to start feeling anxious and depressed.” 

She adds, “The number of people with ‘low mood’ and stress related issues was very high, but people still weren’t making the connection between how they were feeling and how they were behaving.” 

In response, Validium devised a 3-hour resilience workshop to be delivered to 20 employees at a time. A key focus was teaching everyone to listen to their bodies and recognise warning signs: “The workshop was very action-based, looking at all the specific actions employees could take to proactively increase their resilience. That meant everyone attending went away with a clear understanding of tasks they could do to protect their mental health, be it saying no to setting up calls with both sides of the world on the same day, taking a break to explore their local area at lunch or drawing a clear line between work and life so they could play with their children or talk to their partner in the evenings.” 

The results 

“There’s been a huge appetite for the resilience workshops,” says Michelle. “Of the 600 people who’ve already taken part, over 90% said they would recommend it to a colleague. Employees say they feel empowered and excited to make profound changes to their life. By helping them to see the importance of looking after themselves and their mental health, they finally understand the link between their performance and their wellbeing and are highly motivated to take part in the other physical wellbeing initiatives now being launched.” 

She concludes, “The way in which Validium tailored the resilience training to the exact needs of our organisation was outstanding. It’s helped us to reduce absence and improve productivity. Employees feel very positively that Oracle is an employer that really cares about them and wants to look after them. It’s empowered our highly driven workforce to listen to their bodies, take proper breaks and draw a proper line between work and life.” 

“There’s been a huge appetite for the resilience workshops. Of the 600 people who’ve already taken part, over 90% said they would recommend it to a colleage.”

Michelle Bradshaw, Compensation and Benefits Director for Oracle UK Ltd