Wellbeing at Splash Damage
January 25, 2022
Splash Damage hosted our first-ever Wellbeing Week back in 2019. It included a series of events, workshops, and sessions focusing on some of our benefits, how staff could get the most out of them. The goal was to encourage more conversations about our own wellbeing.
We said at the time: “The biggest takeaway [we’d] like to see is us talking about mental health more openly. [We] want to make it far more commonplace.”
Well, four short months later we all started working from home, and we had to get very good at discussing our wellbeing, very quickly.
STRESS AND UNCERTAINTY
“We had no idea what was going to happen,” said Emily, our HR Advisor. “Everyone, including our HR team, was so uncertain. Everything felt confusing, new, and high stress.” With news stories about COVID-19, press conferences from world leaders, and new restrictions being imposed we were in a constant state of flux.
Jana from Luminate, our mental health partner, explains, “We saw major changes to every aspect of our lives. It was constant shock and fear, and we all internalised that made it ‘normal.’ That’s hugely damaging to our wellbeing, and people needed reassurance and new kinds of support.”
But how do you provide that reassurance? Well, before the pandemic, we offered some mental wellbeing services but one thing became clear; it wasn’t robust enough to support our staff through this time. “Splash Damage offered Mental Health Training for line managers, and trained a few Mental Health First Aiders,” said Becky, our HR Manager. “But we realised that that wasn’t enough. The training is now far more effective at dealing with the stresses we’ve seen over the past two years and our staff are better equipped to have conversations about them.”
Those conversations are crucial to fostering a culture of openness about our wellbeing. We talk a lot about how to have effective conversations at work, but suddenly, we were communicating remotely. That comes with its own difficulties.
THE START OF REMOTE WORKING
“The early days had some unique challenges,” said Becky. “People had no webcams, poor connection quality, and were sitting on dodgy furniture. It wasn’t conducive to good working practices, let alone good mental health!” Aside from providing our staff with the physical resources they needed to make their home workspaces better, we began to introduce new policies and practices to ensure our staff were taking their wellbeing seriously, and, crucially, talking about it.
“We’ve always had monthly conversations with our line managers at Splash Damage,” continued Emily. “We talk about career progression, we set goals, and we work together to ensure everything in our professional lives is going well. But that was the entire focus: our professional lives.”
So, in 2020, we changed it. We introduced more formal ‘Wellbeing Check-ins.’ “We know how difficult it can be to have these kinds of conversations,” said Becky. “We hoped that by introducing a more formal structure we could encourage people to be a little more open about how they’re feeling.”
And it worked.
A SHIFT IN CULTURE
“People started to be honest and vulnerable with their line managers,” said Emily. “Splash Damage started having conversations about mental health and wellbeing that were unimaginable just a couple of years before.” The shift in wellbeing at Splash Damage wasn’t just confined to these check-ins, though. Jana explains: “I noticed just how much more educated people were about wellbeing. Before the pandemic, a lot of what we were teaching in our wellbeing sessions with Splash Damage felt new to the attendees. However, we’ve had to change the content of our training to reflect that deeper understanding.”
Having these conversations isn’t just as simple as just scheduling them in, though. “No one at Splash Damage is a trained counsellor,” explained Becky. “When we introduced these check-ins, we had to work closely with Luminate to ensure our line managers knew how to set boundaries, when to escalate issues, when to pass something to HR etc. We didn’t want to expose them to lots of intense feelings and situations with no support.”
“The Line Manager Mental Health training is the most popular training we offer, across all clients and all sectors,” continued Jana. “There’s a desire, not just from organisations, but from individuals to be as supportive as they can be for their reports and colleagues. We’re seeing a real need to understand the difficulties that happened over the past two years.”
Splash Damage committed in 2019 that the Line Manager Mental Health Training wouldn’t be a one-off. Not only because new people become line managers all the time, but because it’s an extremely valuable resource for our staff to refresh their knowledge, and to learn new things.
AN ONGOING COMMITMENT
Line Manager Mental Health training wasn’t our only focus, though. We also revisited a lot of our other benefits and evaluated how useful they were in these new, challenging times. “Splash Damage had private medical insurance,” explained Becky, “but we started to look at that through the lens of wellbeing, too. We decided to shift to a more holistic approach.”
Now we encourage staff to explore the benefits more fully. “We have staff who love all kinds of activities, whether it’s dancing, climbing, running, the gym etc. However. we also wanted to make sure our benefits weren’t just for people who love cardio,” said Becky. “Now we encourage people to look after themselves fully. To look after their mental health, to quit smoking, to go to the dentist, it’s a much more comprehensive approach to wellbeing.”
The past two years have been challenging. Despite that, it’s given us an opportunity to re-assess the way we do things. Not only around wellbeing but also our working practices, which will be an ongoing process throughout 2022 and beyond.
“We’re big believers in having a physical office as the creative hub of our studio,” explained Steve Hessel, VP of People. “Building relationships and feeling connected to each other is much harder when people are working remotely, and we’ve seen that affect both mental health and job satisfaction. At the same time, we’ve all experienced the advantages of working from home as well – having more time with family, more flexibility, and avoiding commutes. It would be foolish of us to bring everyone back to the office full-time once we can safely reopen. Instead, we will be offering hybrid working for most roles, allowing people to divide their time between the office and their home in a way that suits them.”
“We’ve come a long way since we started putting a greater focus on wellbeing and belonging, but this isn’t the time to rest. This is now an integral part of who we are as a studio, and we’re already looking at how we can make this part of Splash Damage even better.”
WHERE TO FIND US
To keep up to date with all things Splash Damage, learn more about working here or apply for one of our open roles be sure to check out the links below: