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The 2021 Wellbeing Wishlist: Part 2

In part 1 of The 2021 Wellbeing Wishlist, we captured the thoughts of our own RG People Team when it comes to improving their own and team wellbeing in and outside of work. 

Next, we’ll see how others are navigating their new world of wellbeing. Whether that’s looking at how to improve workplace wellbeing (wherever you might be calling 'work' nowadays) redefining work-life balance, or diving into a good book (or 10), our RG community of HR leaders had plenty to say: 

We asked the following people about their own wellbeing goals:

  • Tash Peddell, People Communications Manager at Checkatrade
  • Simon Birch, Head of Total Rewards at Accenture
  • Lois Mills, Vice-President/Chief People Officer at Otterbein SeniorLife
  • Pino Fratangelo, General Manager Human Resources at Fred IT Group
  • Lauren Herbers, Senior Director, Organisational Development & Communication at automotiveMastermind Inc.
  • Phil Burgess, Chief People Officer at C Space

What are some of the best things you’ve learnt about yourself and/or your people through 2020? 

tash-circle-headshotTash Peddell: 'People Matter' is one of our biggest values at Checkatrade. But this year, more than ever before, working through a global pandemic has taught me that not only do people matter, but people matter most.

The people at Checkatrade have taught me that when times are tough, we buckle up for the ride and we get through it, together. 

They’ve lifted me up when I’m down, and they’ve made me laugh when I’ve wanted to cry. I’ve also been incredibly inspired and learnt so much from our Women in Tech this year. They’ve shown me that there’s no one-size-fits-all way into the tech world – but with determination, an incredible work ethic and a sprinkling of resilience, you can make a difference with technical innovation. And that’s both powerful and makes me full of pride for our people.

simon-circle-headshotSimon Birch: Resilience & self care for yourself is as important as building it into your culture. Those companies with resilient workforces used to agile working seemed to be able to adapt much quicker to the events of 2020 than others.

Those organisations that were building change resilience & critical incident response plans into their teams over the last few years appeared to suffer less and bounce back quicker. 

Time will tell in this space with more data but it's clear that focussing on business continuity planning and employee mental health and wellbeing are business critical actions and need to be part of any HR strategy into the future.

lois-circle-headshotLois Mills: People are very resilient and compassionate. As a team we’ve met for many hours to address the pandemic, always trying to balance our responsibility to the residents we’re blessed to serve and to the partners (employees) who do the daily work. There have been heartbreaking moments when we see how many people are affected with COVID and the isolation it brings to our residents, tearful moments when we see a husband kissing his wife of 50 years through a window, joyful moments when we celebrate a resident coming out of a COVID unit, and the special times our teams just pull through because they are committed to each other and the residents.

pino-circle-headshotPino Fratangelo: Across our team it was really pleasing to see quick and effective responses to seemingly forever-changing circumstances and challenges. There was just so much focus and attention paid to ensuring the wellbeing at this time of ourselves, our families, our peers and our customers. We all talk resilience and agility and 'looking out for each other' but I can’t think of a time when these behaviours and traits were so relentlessly called for, and so consistently demonstrated.    

Learn more about how you can support your employees through times of change »

lauren-herbersLauren Herbers: One of the best things I learned about our team this year is that we will persevere through challenges. Where others wanted to wait until the storm passed, I’m so proud of how our team members refused to use COVID as an excuse. We took a 'can do' attitude across all areas of the business, whether it be client relations, product development, or people initiatives and we didn’t slow down. That’s truly something to recognise!

phil-circle-headshotPhil Burgess: This year has renewed my conviction in the importance of being kind to yourself and the people around you. In spite of everything the world has thrown at us, I’ve learnt that we are all more resilient and able to adapt to change than we ever thought possible.

We pivoted to become a remote organisation almost overnight, adapting our use of technology, rethinking how we structured meetings and worked with clients and dealt with the blended boundaries of 'work' and life outside. 

And while we’ve all adapted, it’s also been incredibly exhausting. We have all felt under pressure to drive growth for our business, to protect jobs, to go above and beyond to sustain client relationships with people facing their own personal and professional demands. There have been (many) moments when I (and everyone I work with) have felt overwhelmed, and I have learned how important it is to step back, to intentionally pause and regain perspective, to take a moment to remember what I am grateful for. 

I’ve learnt that even when I am stressed beyond measure, I have to do what sometimes feels counterintuitive and step away, so I can then show up the way I need to for the people I work with. And this year, while we’ve had more insight into the homes and lives of the people we work with, I’ve also learnt that you can’t ever make assumptions around how others are experiencing things. It’s easier to have empathy when you know what people are dealing with, but important to also remember to be kind and that people are dealing with things you might not be aware of.

Are there any positive initiatives or habits you’ve introduced for yourself or your team that you would definitely like to continue into 2021? 

tash-circle-headshotTash Peddell: As a self-confessed bibliophile, I set myself a target to read 100 books this year. But when the first lockdown took hold, I found it hard to focus on the pages of my beloved books. It sounds corny, but by injecting audiobooks and podcasts into my reading repertoire, I’ve instilled a positive habit that I’m keen to continue into 2021. I absolutely love my job, but sometimes I need to quiet my buzzing brain, and the soothing sounds of Stephen Fry reading the Harry Potter series before bed has worked wonders for my wellbeing.

I’ve also taken things back to basics when it comes to self-care. A daily walk, lots of water, and a bedtime routine with no tech after 10 has really helped me this year.

Communicating and connecting with colleagues is my bread and butter – and as the CSR lead for the business, I had to find alternative ways to fundraise this year that went beyond the bake sale. As a business, we’ve managed to raise over $5,000 for Samaritans in just a few months with a variety of online charity challenges including Checkatrek (a socially distanced step challenge), Checkasweat (working out to help out) and Grovember for November – where our Leadership Team took on a battle of the beards!

Learn more about how to improve connections during the pandemic »

simon-circle-headshotSimon Birch: I have a toddler and we had a new baby in October so I must admit being home so much has been amazing. I would say that being compassionate with myself was something I developed more this year. There was a lot more taming of that inner voice to cut myself some slack when it was OK to say 'we did the best we could in the time we had.'

Prior to COVID I saw working from home only as a nice perk, now it’s driven me to really think about how I spend my time and being very decisive about where NOT to spend my time. We all tend to say 'Yes' a lot and I think this year has built a few skills for me to say no to things that aren’t mission critical.

lois-circle-headshotLois Mills: In an odd way the pandemic has given me more time – since I don’t run to various events and meetings, though I work long hours, when I’m home, I’m home. My husband and I have had more time to just sit on the porch talking or playing cards. 

I‘m more intentional about my self-care – taking time just to be by myself reading or playing music, and more intentional about daily (well almost daily) spiritual time. 

I’ve continued to prioritise exercising more at home but some in the gym because it would be easy to eat away the stress and then the waistline.

The members of the Executive Team still go to the office daily except for Fridays when we work at home. I do then on Fridays take time to walk and even walk sometimes when I’m on a conference call.

I certainly have become very adept at using Zoom – it’s now a love/hate relationship – love that you can see people, show documents so you’re all looking at the same thing so can be very productive, hate because it keeps me glued to a chair looking only at a screen for hours and then trying to adjust the light so you can see people clearer, etc.

Technology overall though has definitely made a positive difference that I can’t imagine what it would have been like without it.

pino-circle-headshotPino Fratangelo: I suspect we are far from unique in this, but the need to up the frequency and method of communication across our teams quickly became apparent. Daily one-on-one and team video meetings became the norm, relevant communication and collaboration tools and technologies were applied, very regular all-of-company video meetings were organised, and on-line team members, support, development, reward and recognition platforms put in place. And of course, across the business we worked hard to increase the speed with which we brought much required eHealth solutions to the marketplace such as ePrescriptions, helping to keep people safe during this period.   

lauren-herbersLauren Herbers: We realised without the office or travel, we lacked some of what made us great, our family-like environment. While we tried many different events or activities, we’ve had the most success with a Slack integration that pairs people up monthly to connect. The rules are simple, find time during that month to connect and talk about anything but work. Through this we’ve made many new connections and friendships and highly recommend this to anyone looking to find ways to connect their team members.

phil-circle-headshotPhil Burgess: This year, conscious of how challenging it was for people to 'switch off,' particularly in the early months of the pandemic, we introduced the idea of Half Day Fridays to our team at C Space. We blocked out Friday afternoons in the corporate calendar so that people could stop work at lunchtime, and take a longer weekend, which we continued into the summer if people were able to make up hours earlier in the week. 

When we got to September, based on feedback from our people, we decided to evolve it to 'Focus Fridays.' We still block out everyone’s diaries from 12:30pm. 

People can take the time off if they’ve completed their work for the week, or use the time for focussed activity (deep-thinking work, wrapping up the week, planning for the week ahead). 

We strive not to book internal or client meetings during that time and people have appreciated some sacred meeting-free time (in a world where they are spending a lot of time on video calls)! We’ll be continuing it indefinitely and are now exploring other ways to help unlock time in people’s weeks as we think about how to shape the future of work at C Space.

In terms of my own wellbeing, my family and I have tried to get outside whenever we can. We started a family project at the start of the year called #just1bag2020, aiming to inspire others to pick up a bag of litter when they’re out and about. When we started it, it was just a fun project. We never knew how much we would come to rely on our litter-picking walks to help us feel physically and mentally healthy. There have been so many moments in 2020 when I have not known what to do or how to have an impact on everything going on in the world. Getting outside for a walk or a run and collecting a bag of litter en route has become a small habit and a way of helping me 'control the controllables' and make a small positive difference. 

What are you most excited about for 2021? 

tash-circle-headshotTash Peddell: I’m excited to take employee engagement to the next level in 2021. We’ve already started generating ideas for some creative campaigns which will launch early on in the year, and some will have longevity for the whole calendar year (no spoilers!). I’m also excited to get going with my passion project. One of our People Business Partners, Laura Minker has just started coaching sessions with me and we’ve been setting strategies to take both my professional and personal goals from ideas to real action. Because of her, I’ve started writing a book – so watch this space!

simon-circle-headshotSimon Birch: I’m most excited about delivering on the promise of technology and human ingenuity. The world faces many challenges and I think sometimes as humans we get too comfortable with the status quo. We need a shake up every now and again to really take the big issues on and deal with them.

Technology and 2020 combined to show us that a new way of working is possible and my hope is that we don’t go back to the way things were but continue to build a better work environment for people to thrive.

lois-circle-headshotLois Mills: Most excited would be to see my extended family in person and to hopefully see my son graduate and accept his commission to the Army in person. Oh, and my oldest son leaving my basement to move to his job in another city so he can get his independent life started. Overall excited about the vaccine and thus the potential for our residents to stop being so isolated and our caregivers not wearing PPE and able to give and receive hugs from each other.

lauren-herbersLauren Herbers: With a new year comes a fresh start! With all the challenges that 2020 has brought to the world, I look forward to a fresh perspective and newfound excitement. So much of 2020 was clouded by uncertainty and change and our team has done a tremendous job embracing the change and this new normal. I look forward to tackling anything 2021 sends our way!

phil-circle-headshotPhil Burgess: Many are excited about drawing a line under 2020, and I have to admit, I am, too. But despite the hardship and tragedy many have experienced (or perhaps because of this), it is not a year we should try to forget. Rather, it is a year to remember for all it has taught us about ourselves as employers, employees and, frankly, as people. At work, I am excited about applying lessons from 2020 as we shape our culture at C Space. We’ve learnt about the importance of building relationships and connections, that relationships ARE the source of results, that we must be more fluid in the way we work with one another and build teams and career paths. At C Space, we’re focussed on making business more human, and I’m excited in 2021 to really double down on what this means for us as a business and employer.

Being human is messy – being human means being kind, growing, learning, being vulnerable, being resilient, building relationships, doing things together no one thought you were capable of… 

Who knows what 2021 will throw at us, but I am confident that our experiences of 2020 will help us shape an incredible 2021.


We hope that as we continue on throughout 2021, you’ll follow in the footsteps of our contributors and make sure to put your own wellbeing first, alongside that of your people and your business as a whole. Stay safe and well - we’re here to help you take on 2021 by storm! 

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Chloe Thompson

Chloe is the Head of Content Strategy at Reward Gateway. She has a strong penchant for great food, better wine (especially if it sits alongside a cheese plate) and dancing around her kitchen to musical theatre tunes.

Head of Content Strategy

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