Feelings Matter

Tackle Your Feelings seeks to emphasise the importance of preventative measures in maintaining good mental wellbeing, writes Richard McElwee from Rugby Players Ireland. He speaks to Elaine Hayes from Zurich's People Development team about the impact of Tackle Your Feelings in Zurich Ireland.

With a long-standing presence in Ireland of over 30 years, Zurich is one of the country's leading insurance companies, and provides a wide range of general insurance and life insurance products and services to customers. As a significant local employer, Zurich employs over 1,000 people in jobs across locations in Dublin and Wexford. "At Zurich, we've always prided ourselves on our commitment to making a difference in the local communities in which we operate, supporting a number of important causes across the country," Elaine Hayes, CR spokesperson for Zurich Insurance says. "We've proudly contributed to charities such as Aware, Pieta House and the Windmill Therapeutic Unit in Wexford over the past number of years, through a series of fundraising and volunteering initiatives."

Through the global Z Zurich Foundation, a long-term cooperative approach is taken to support Zurich companies worldwide develop meaningful responses to challenges in the local communities. The Foundation makes a valuable contribution to sustainable social and economic development with initiatives such as its wellbeing agenda in Ireland, combining Zurich's global experience with non-profit organisations' local knowledge and development expertise.

Wellbeing Agenda

A key focus for Zurich over the last couple of years, both amongst employees and in local communities, has been to continuously drive a wellbeing agenda. The goals for its Wellbeing Matters programme are guided by the Zurich People Vision which states an ambition to create a culture whereby people "show compassion and care and make a difference to those around them," and to create a workplace that "brings out the best in everyone".

This is something that has great resonance with Elaine Hayes. "With CSR becoming increasingly important, we not only demonstrate our compassion and care to our colleagues, but we firmly believe in the resulting operational benefits. Whether this is achieved through awareness of an active lifestyle or the benefits of healthy eating, each of our initiatives focuses on both our responsibilities as an employer and as a corporation."

Prioritising our People

"Our Wellbeing Matters programme is a holistic, people focused, employee wellbeing programme, incorporating fitness, nutrition, personal budgeting and mental health," Hayes continues. "It takes a three-pronged approach to supporting the wellbeing of employees, providing them with the knowledge, resources and opportunities to make positive changes in their lives, influencing their physical and mental health and wellbeing."

While keeping the employee experience at its core and making wellbeing engaging and fun, the programme also has a serious impact in bettering the lives of Zurich employees. According to Hayes: "We have made employee wellbeing into a way of working with effective wellbeing campaigns and by embedding wellbeing into Zurich's DNA to enable a truly compassionate environment; one that achieves business goals by helping people to be at their best. Through our work, we've become increasingly conscious of mental health. Although an increasingly prevalent issue in Ireland, mental health issues can be positively managed with the right support. Taking our internal learnings in the area, we partnered with Rugby Players Ireland (RPI) to establish Tackle Your Feelings."

The Business Case

So how did the relationship with Tackle Your Feelings materialise? Hayes explains: "When Rugby Players Ireland came to us with the Tackle Your Feelings initiative we felt it was the perfect campaign for us to get involved with. In line with our commitment to employee wellbeing, Tackle Your Feelings has allowed us to find new ways to strengthen the mental health supports for employees across Ireland, while impacting change on a national level."

Through its internal rollout, the campaign is being used to facilitate discussion around mental health, educating employees and driving positive change in their lives. "The benefits of the campaign not only extend to our employees and local communities here in Ireland, but also contribute to the performance of the Zurich business. Internally, wellbeing initiatives such as this see a direct impact on business performance drivers such as employee engagement levels. From an external perspective, investing in your employee wellbeing serves to enhance the company's employer brand, which is key to attracting and retaining great people."

A Healthy Future

Although it has only entered into year two of the campaign, Tackle Your Feelings is already seeing a significant positive impact in Ireland. While it has helped to facilitate open narratives about mental health, the wider discussion has only begun. With a number of exciting new initiatives planned for the remainder of 2017 and with sporting ambassadors regularly driving debate, Tackle Your Feelings is set to positively impact mental health in Ireland over the coming years. Zurich's wellbeing agenda will continue to drive positive change in local communities across Ireland.

About: Rugby Players Ireland (RPI)

Richard McElwee is the Media and Communications Manager at Rugby Players Ireland and also manages the PR and communicative aspects of the Tackle Your Feelings campaign. An accredited journalist, he is a regular contributor to several sporting websites and publications.

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