11 June 2021 Company News, Employee Spotlight

Month-long wellbeing initiative promotes fitness and raises funds for charity

SMS Distance Challenge

COVID-19 – and the many unique personal and professional challenges that have come with it – has highlighted the need to carefully look after our physical and mental wellbeing more so than ever before.

And so inspired by our core values of ‘Safety’ and ‘Sustainability’ – and propelled by the pandemic and mass transition to temporary full-time homeworking – the last 18 months has seen SMS embark on a coordinated internal wellbeing programme aimed at promoting good health across our organisation.

The effective integration of our Human Resources strategy, coupled with support from our Health & Safety and Marketing & Communications teams, has led to the launch of a dedicated Employee Wellbeing intranet resource (offering a whole range of exclusive and curated wellness and health resources), the training of Mental Health First Aiders across our workforce, and various other regular wellbeing promotions and initiatives.

It has even been responsible for numerous award nominations in 2020 (including for Utility Week’s Employer of the Year) and also played a key role in SMS achieving its recent ISO 45001 and Best Companies accreditations.

The Distance Challenge  ‍♀️

So, this Spring, we wanted to do something that would take our employee wellbeing programme up yet another notch. Enter our Distance Challenge, which ran through the whole month of May.

The initiative – which came in the wake of eased restrictions enabling full enjoyment of the great outdoors once again following months of lockdown – challenged employees to set themselves a personal distance target (either 100km, 200km, or 300km+) and reach it by whatever means of exercise possible (walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc.) within 31 days.

Our objective was to encourage people to get out and about and into a routine of regular exercise no matter their level of fitness, whilst generally promoting good physical and mental wellbeing in line with the Government’s On Your Feet Britain Campaign. The challenge also coincided with Mental Health Week 2021, with SMS donating to our charity partner, Mind, for every employee that signed up.

Though posed as a completely optional activity for employees, we were absolutely swamped with eager participants – each of whom would be sent a refillable, thermal SMS water bottle in the post to help hydrate them through their personal challenge.

In short, the response and engagement with our Distance Challenge was incredible, with hundreds of people taking part up and down the UK, as well as at our locations in Ireland. This was not just in terms of physical participation in reaching the distance targets, but the great sense of community that was fostered through the initiative’s dedicated Employee Resource Group on Microsoft Teams, where our challengers supported each other daily through inspiring messages and photos of their adventures (see the video collage below).

All in all, combined with SMS’s donation to Mind, the incredible efforts of our employees – who themselves chose other charities close to their hearts as part of their individual challenges – the initiative was successful in fundraising thousands of pounds for good causes.

And for the total distance reached by our participating employees? Well, they covered a mind-blowing 24,000km in one month – longer than the entire Great Wall of China!