The adoption of remote working due to the pandemic imbued business leaders with a new challenge: protecting employee wellbeing from afar. Good wellbeing is essential to overall health, and promoting this in employees is considered a true pillar of HR.

In an interview with WhyiGaming, Marie Theobald, Chief People Officer at Hero Gaming, shed light on how the industry tackled this challenge, affirming that “as an industry, we have always been at the forefront of giving employee wellness its priority. When COVID-19 hit last year, we really came together as an industry to discuss employee wellness and to share ideas and initiatives.”

Admitting that while remote working certainly has its benefits, Ms Theobald says it also came with challenges. “One of the most important things that we addressed when we started working remotely was checking in more frequently with employees,” she says, emphasising that while health checks and surveys are useful, “the reality is that sometimes, you need to connect with somebody on a personal level to see if they’re OK.”

Sharing that employees generally adapted really well to remote working initially, the Chief People Officer reveals that “people adjusted and adapted within a few days,” yet with a small caveat: everyone thought it would be a short-term scenario.

“Towards the end of the summer, we were seeing people find it challenging to get into the right mood for work,” Ms Theobald describes, venturing that “mentally it had started taking its toll”, referencing the lack of interaction with people, as well as the realisation of “going into a long, lonely winter” for some.

It was extremely challenging, she recalls, revealing that for this reason, Hero Gaming never completely closed its offices. “We were mindful of the fact that a lot of people live alone, and we still wanted to give them the option to come into the office, in a safe environment, if they wanted to just interact with some people,” she explains, adding “people wanted that interaction, and nothing beats that physical interaction.”

Delving into some of the initiatives that the company implemented to champion the wellbeing of their employees during this difficult time, she references an employee assistance programme, explaining that while most companies in the industry partnered up with organisations which offer therapy to employees, Hero went a step further by reimbursing therapy costs for employees who choose to see a private therapist.   

And the latest project the company embarked on in this regard, she says, is the launch of a wellness app which synch to employees’ watches and monitors activity. “We’ve been creating these step challenges internally which have got people moving! We wanted to enable people to start getting active again,” she says, which is particularly timely after the initial excitement of home workouts at the start of the pandemic had died down.  

“It has created a sense of fun in combination with taking care of the physical aspect,” she affirms, noting that while historically the primary focus of wellbeing was the mental aspect, the two are linked, and “exercise has a positive effect on our mental wellbeing as well.”

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