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How Asda has supported colleagues and their mental health through COVID-19

By Katie Wynn

May 22, 2020 10:08am
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Like all supermarkets, we have been impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak and I am really proud of how we as individuals and Asda as a company have responded in these extremely testing times.

It feels appropriate that the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness, after seeing so many examples of our colleagues doing just that – from helping local food banks or going that extra mile for customers, the kindness they have shown to each other and communities has made a real difference.

Those working across the business will be spending more time at home and often without the regular human contact they would normally have with friends, family and those they work with, so it is more important than ever that we do all we can do to help.

We recognised the need to launch a wellbeing site early on in the pandemic and to make this accessible to all colleagues, covering key areas of emotional, physical, social and financial wellbeing. The site is packed with ideas on how those around the business can support their own wellbeing and help others, especially for those who are missing the contact they would usually have with colleagues.

It’s really important to us that we continually offer support and let colleagues know we care for them during these unprecedented times. We have sent regular wellbeing updates, including information around our assistance programme, which provides a free 24/7 phone line to help colleagues with their mental health and have removed the financial worry for the 12,000 colleagues who needed to self-isolate by paying them 12 weeks wages in full.

For our operational colleagues isolating at home, we wanted to keep everyone connected and have produced two booklets to explain what is going on across the business, including a wellbeing section, to help them stay safe and well. For those continuing to work we have run mindfulness and fitness sessions over platforms such as Zoom, and recorded them so that retail and distribution colleagues are able to watch at a time that suits them.

Wellbeing and mental health has been a focus at Asda for quite some time, and we have had a wellbeing colleague network for a number of years. Using the tagline #whatstigma, our ambition is to talk openly and eliminate the stigma associated with this subject. To help to do that, we have worked with Rethink Mental illness, to roll out training sessions across our Home Office and Distribution centres. The next step will be to take this out to our retail colleagues too, so they can also benefit.

Our whole approach to wellbeing is about enabling people to be themselves through the 'Being You' at Asda initiative. We want to create the right environment so everyone can be their true and best self every day and feel comfortable to talk. The last few months have shown this approach is more important now than ever before.

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