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Wellbeing at Unboxed

Vicky Peel, Aug. 13, 2019

Over the last few months, wellbeing at work has been a hot topic of conversation across the Unboxed team, prompted by discussion during our March company-wide retrospective.

Wellbeing in the workplace is increasingly recognised as a key factor in employee retention, attraction and engagement strategies for organisations of all sizes. Fostering wellbeing is positive for people, it’s positive for the organisation they work for and it’s positive for the customers they work with. After all, we spend a great deal of time at work and, as in the rest of our lives, at work we want to feel that we are productive and valued, that we can thrive and feel we belong.

Company retrospective

July's company day.

It can be challenging to navigate through the wealth of statistics and information that’s available to understand what is appropriate for your workplace. But there are common themes that, if considered, really do go a long way in promoting wellbeing in the workplace and hopefully therefore attracting new people and keeping those you have.

Promoting a good work-life balance, having open and effective communication, flexible working practices and positive working relationships all show the highest value for happiness and development. This can sometimes be challenging for SMEs, however, the advantage of being a smaller business is that you are more likely to know your people, what works, what doesn’t work and how people feel, therefore being increasingly responsive to those needs.

Company discussion

Discussing wellbeing as a team.

Following from our company-wide retrospective, we took the opportunity to open the wider conversation on wellbeing across the team, reflect on how people feel, what we currently do, and what else we could be doing to create a vision of wellbeing as an integral part of the culture at Unboxed, as opposed to just being something that could be considered “nice-to-have”.


To begin, we worked on forming a vision:

  • A positive and inclusive workplace culture and environment that promotes the physical and mental wellbeing of all, where everyone can thrive both in and out of work
  • A culture of openness, promoting a positive work-life balance, being transparent and open in communication, creating positive working relationships and encouraging diversity of thought and behaviour

People want to feel respected, be involved, be heard, be well-led and valued.

With this in mind, it’s important to take stock. At June’s company day, we ran a dot voting activity to begin understanding what is contributing to wellbeing at Unboxed, what isn’t and what else people would like to see in place.

Dot voting

Dot voting on wellbeing initiatives.

While not an exact science or entirely representative, this process has been helpful in highlighting that there is already a positive number of things in place to support wellbeing in the organisational culture of Unboxed, with the highest-value areas pointing out flexible working practices and good, open communication.

There were also some surprises. So the session was then followed up with an initial feedback session to dig a little deeper with the aim of keeping wellbeing as part of our everyday conversation.

Implementing wellbeing at Unboxed

There are small things that can be done to make a big impact on wellbeing in the workplace.

Wellbeing at Unboxed

Discussing what wellbeing means at Unboxed.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development: “Work should do more than meet our basic financial means, and contribute to our economic growth; it should also improve the quality of our lives, by giving us meaning and purpose and contributing to our overall wellbeing”.

The five ways to wellbeing (researched and developed by the New Economics Foundation) sets out five steps that can help improve mental wellbeing: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Learn and Give.

We looked at the ‘Five ways’ as a useful framework in which to think about wellbeing both in and out of the workplace, how better to look after ourselves and build our resilience; we all sometimes need a reminder to practice self-care.

The five ways to wellbeing

Exploring the five ways to wellbeing.

While there is a culture of open and effective communication at Unboxed, connection was one of the things we talked about that could do with some further consideration.

There are a number of long-established opportunities in place for people to get together: monthly team lunches, end of the week Whines & Cheers (our weekly team retrospective at 5pm on a Friday), the amazing weekly internal newsletter (the “Unboxed Goss”), and Linkers & Thinkers lunches (monthly linking lunches), to name a few.

But connecting on a day-to-day basis is perhaps more subtle, maybe even described as something softer. Good communication is about connecting and engaging. It affects whether people feel they belong and whether they feel valued. In the workplace, this is important as it’s entirely possible to feel lonely or disconnected at work even when surrounded by your colleagues. And loneliness or isolation is a significant factor for people’s mental health and engagement.

Everybody needs something slightly different to help them connect, but one thing we all agreed on was such a simple thing when it was pointed out — saying hello!

In open plan offices with hot desking, headphones and flexible working hours, people can come and go sometimes without acknowledgement. It’s undoubtedly unconscious and unintentional, but when it was raised as something to ‘notice’, most of us recognised that it had an affect, particularly if you are new to a company and finding your feet, or if you are having a challenging time. It’s a small thing that makes a difference, so we are all making a conscious effort to say “hello!”.

We now have a designated wellbeing person as part of our team, an evolving role that means we keep the wellbeing of everyone at Unboxed on the agenda, to make sure that we are doing the best we can to make people feel they belong, feel they are supported and feel they can thrive.

We also have a #wellbeing Slack channel and on the agenda for further conversations is the office space i.e. the arrangement of desks (always a hot topic), ensuring a diversity of social activities and opportunities to talk. However, the workplace is a community, and as such, it is also the responsibility of everyone in it to take care of both themselves and take care of their colleagues.

We have started the wellbeing conversation and we are all on board with wanting to keep Unboxed a great place to work.