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Northumbrian Water: Mental Health Champions


It's all too easy to prioritise work over your health needs. But the pandemic forced us to give mental and physical health the attention it deserves. Recognition in this area is absolutely vital, which is why UK EXA '22 will have a Health & Wellbeing category.

Since we always want our guests to learn from quality initiatives, our Business Writer, Tom Fairbairn, has compiled four outstanding entries together into a brilliant Case Study. You can download it here for free.

One of these entries is especially strong on Mental Wellbeing: this blog will give you a preview of its best elements.

Northumbrian Water: Caring For State of Mind

Northumbrian Water provides water and sewerage services to 2.7 million people located in the North East of England. With 3000 employees, who are mostly male, they work diligently to secure clean and safe drinking water is accessible to millions of UK residents.

Northumbrian Water wanted to avoid an impersonal, tick-box approach to mental health, choosing instead to focus on developing a natural and convenient platform for their people to use. So how did they do it?

By Building an Online Wellbeing Hub

The central point was implementing 'hygge', a Danish approach to design and living that emphasises the little things we can do to improve our state of mind. In their entry, this was described as adopting a "simpler and sensory style approach, with visual and audio forms of content used rather than large volumes of text."

Northumbrian Water's "Living Well" (the name of their wellbeing hub) incorporates these ideas. They designed lots of minimalistic, soothing images to help their employees stay calm and get the feeling that any problem is solvable. They just need to break it down into smaller chunks to make things less stressful.

In this imagery, they left out all company branding - genuinely focusing on offering general health and wellbeing advice. As they say in their entry: "We wanted to create a site that felt accessible outside of work, which male employees would engage with and access to improve their own wellbeing. The choice to theme the site around the concept of hygge highlighted how well we knew the demographics of our staff with men feeding back that they loved the hygge feel and creating their own hygge setup at home."

What Else Did They Do?

Designing an intuitive, accessible platform was just one part of their mental health strategy. Other policies included:

* Their CEO started doing "Heidi Live" weekly Q&A sessions
* Managers were dedicated to helping employees get the most out of the platform
* A series of wellbeing champions throughout the business

Completing their mental health strategy, Northumbrian Water offer mental resilience assistance, an EAP support line, a Mental Health First Aid Service, plus Financial Wellness sessions and support.

All these actions were taken on a platform that employees saw as engaging: they used it off work hours too, because it was a genuinely useful resource with a great user experience. This combination of digital simplicity and wide-ranging support is what made this such an outstanding initiative.

The Results

77% of Northumbrian Water workers use this platform on a daily basis; yes, every single day! Session attendance rates also went from 95.4 to 96.3% - astounding levels of engagement during the pandemic.

This project absolutely astounded the judging panel in 2021, and Northumbrian Water emerged as Gold Winners in the Health & Wellbeing category. Furthermore, the initiative inspired many other companies to implement similar actions - many of their representatives inquired about the hygge approach!

This is just one of four thought-provoking and impressive success stories covered in the Case Study. Download it now and draw inspiration for your own future projects.

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