Embedding a culture of wellbeing at TELUS International

September 26, 2023

Eileen Hannon, Occupational Health Advisor at TELUS International Ireland reflects on their recent accreditation.

TELUS International Ireland is honoured to be named recipients of the Ibec KeepWell Mark this year, an evidence-based accreditation that recognises and celebrates organisations that put the wellbeing of employees at the forefront of company policy. We’re so grateful to be recognised for our efforts to embrace corporate wellness for each of our employees. As an Occupational Health Advisor, ensuring team members are happy, healthy and thriving is a top priority and receiving the KeepWell Mark solidifies the efforts made by our team to maintain employee wellbeing.

With more than 20 years experience working in the Occupational Health sector, I truly believe that the first step to workplace wellbeing is building a good foundation, with a focus on preparation and prevention. We have five pillars of wellness at TELUS International Ireland – nutrition, exercise, mental health, sleep and having fun. To promote these, we launched a Wellness Team in 2016 made up of volunteering team members, which has grown steadily over time. Having a team that understands, through first-hand experience, the issues that can potentially arise with regards to our own workplace wellbeing has been incredibly beneficial while creating initiatives that help inform our team members.

Nutrition and physical activity as cornerstones of health

A key element in the promotion of employee wellbeing and one that I have seen get overlooked by many organisations through the years is nutrition. Healthy eating goes hand in hand with workplace wellbeing. As with any aspect of the workplace wellbeing programme, we strive to approach nutrition in a way that considers preferences, allergies, special dietary needs and ethical food choices. To earn the KeepWell Mark, it was important to us that menus and signage promoting healthier food choices were prevalent throughout designated areas. To ensure our team remains informed with up-to-date information, e-learning resources on healthy eating are available to team members as well as the Eat Smart App from Brook Foods that allows employees full control over their own nutrition and lifestyle. In addition to this, the introduction of our onsite juice stations, which have proven to be very popular and the integration of healthier snack options in our vending machines is a fun way to ensure that our team members have not only what they want, but what they need – a wide variety of food options.

In my experience, one of the simplest but most effective ways to improve wellbeing within the workplace is by encouraging and promoting exercise and physical activity. It’s no secret, creating an environment that supports and encourages physical activity offers numerous benefits for individuals and organisations alike but it can also be fun. We all encounter daily stresses and problems at work that can take their toll on our bodies. However, exercise and physical activity can be used to balance stress and improve mental health as it reduces cortisol levels while also releasing endorphins that help to relax the mind. We focus on embracing this concept and utilise our resources as much as possible. Our Worktime Workout initiative encourages team members to increase their step count on their breaks by using the specially created walking routes at both our Cork and Dublin sites. Each week we issue a weekly wellness article internally to reiterate the importance of physical activity.

Our onsite gym offers the perfect space for team members to release some built up energy or just have some fun with their co-workers with a variety of fitness classes. As well as this, there is a range of clubs and sports societies that we encourage team members to engage with. Exercise is a lot more fun when you have someone to enjoy it with. Our Sports and Social Golf Society, 6-a-side football team and running club are just a few named groups within the organisation that have proven to benefit team members in a number of ways. While they promote a healthier lifestyle, they also allow team members to get to know one another in a more social setting, away from their desks.

A culture which embraces mental health

When it comes to employee wellbeing, maintaining physical health is only half the battle. Mental Health is so important and no matter what profession you are in, looking after your mental health is crucial. The important thing to bear in mind here is that mental health does not discriminate and it can affect all of us. Research shows that regardless of the size of your company, 20% of employees will have a mental health issue at some point. For us, there is only one place to start with mental health, and that is awareness. This is why we ensure that all TELUS International Ireland team members know what resources are available to them at all times. Our Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) team is a group of volunteers that take part in MHFA Ireland training annually. The group provides a 1-2-1 confidential chat service to anyone that may be experiencing issues with their mental health. They are also proactive in organising initiatives in line with specific awareness days like R U OKAY Days while also hosting “Let’s Talk…” events that work towards addressing and destigmatising issues like suicide, addiction, financial stress etc.

Implementing positive workplace wellbeing has incredible implications on your employees’ professional and personal lives, and as a result, directly impacts an organisation’s corporate objectives. There is a direct link between wellbeing in the workplace and employee performance. Ensuring that your team is mentally and physically well will come to light in your organisation's overall performance. Initiatives such as The KeepWell Mark have been proven to reduce staff absenteeism, improve employee retention and have a significant impact on increasing morale within the workplace in general, providing us with a valuable framework to build best practices and benchmark our own progress areas for improvement. We are so glad that we got to take part in the programme, and so pleased that we had the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to our employee’s wellbeing.