Vitality in the (virtual) workplace: this is how I-Interim Rijk does it!
By Kirsten van Enk | 21/06/2021
At the beginning of 2020, we came face to face with the Covid-19 pandemic. Compulsory working from home proved to be a challenge. This was also the case at I-Interim Rijk (IIR), a Dutch government agency, where they decided to turn vitality in the workplace into a continuous program: 'IIR Vitaal'. Corien Brouwer, talent manager, and Helen Sie, coach and supervisor, say: “Vitality has been on the agenda for some time, but corona has accelerated it.”
Before the Covid-19 crisis started, IIR already made various tools available to employees to maintain their vitality and mental health. For example, there was already a 'vitality toolbox', which contained useful information about various vitality-related topics. But Corien and Helen thought it was time to pay more attention to it. For this they use the 2DAYSMOOD tool (amongst other things), with which they ask weekly how employees are doing. The tool also allows them to ask specific questions about vitality in the (virtual) workplace.
The start of the program
When four vitality measurements were taken at the end of 2020, the results of which were cause for concern, Corien and Helen decided to focus more on vitality in the workplace. “We invited employees to join a meeting. Here, four people made themselves powerfully vulnerable by telling what effects Covid-19 had on them and their work. That has led to very nice conversations about this subject,” says Corien. “There was someone who felt guilty for not being able to work as focused as usual with two small children at home. And someone who got up in the morning with little energy, something she didn't recognize from herself. By making the conversation open, employees see that they are not alone with these kinds of feelings and it allowed them to share their own story about it.”
These meetings are now organized every week to create connection. “It's completely non-binding, but it's very much appreciated,” says Corien. In addition, they also have a kind of digital canteen (Wonder.me) that anyone can access if they feel like an informal chat. “If you work in the office, you talk at the coffee machine,” Helen says. “But that is no longer the case. Now you can virtually 'walk around' to talk to each other that way.”
Themes and workshops: healthy eating and sleeping
Not only these meetings and spontaneous coffee moments provide more vitality in the workplace. In addition, IIR Vitaal has a different theme every month to which extra attention is paid. In the month of May this was 'healthy sleeping', in April 'the healthy brain'.
“We have a colleague who is a mindfulness trainer, she gives a mindfulness session every week. Another colleague is a trainer in chair yoga, and we also did that with a group,” says Corien. "We mainly try to look internally at what our own people have to offer." In addition, they also organize lectures, to which external speakers are invited. For example, a behavioral scientist from the University of Groningen who talks about behavioral change. And a story of the brain foundation (Hersenstichting) about the healthy brain and healthy sleep. There is so much to offer.
You can tackle high workload yourself
In between, the common thread of the 2DAYSMOOD measurements runs constantly. They use these to measure the emotions of employees every week and to ask an open question about the monthly theme. In June, for example, on the theme of 'healthy eating', they asked the question: 'What behavioral change would help me eat healthy?' With the answers to this question, the word cloud below was generated.
“2DAYSMOOD's word clouds are fantastic. We gain a lot of insight into the range of answers very quickly,” says Helen. “But sometimes it is also difficult, because very honest but anonymous answers are given. And then you don't know what you can do to help."
For this they have created an extensive file, which contains all kinds of different tools such as webinars and workshops. “You want to offer a solution, but sometimes employees have to get to work themselves,” says Corien. “Many of our colleagues have a high workload. We certainly want to help tackle this, but they will largely have to do that themselves.”
That is why Helen and Corien try to stimulate the use of the personal dashboard. Here you can see as an employee what answers and moods you have entered. This way you can also keep track of your own employee happiness trend and ask for help early if things don't go too well. “They can recognize and break the pattern a bit more,” Helen says.
Vitality in the workplace is sustainable
Although the vitality program is going very well within IIR, they sometimes run into challenges. For example, they sometimes find it difficult to follow up on the data. “The most important thing is that our colleagues become aware of their own vitality in the workplace,” says Corien. “Sometimes they don't really know what to do about it. But for this we have developed handy conversation cards, such as the 'Working and living during corona' and the 'Healthy living during corona' conversation cards, and the vitality toolbox."
Helen adds: “We are at home right now, whether we like it or not. Keep checking with yourself how your energy is. Do you take breaks on time? Are you moving enough? If things aren't going well, make a cup of coffee or walk the dog.” If employees take care of themselves in this way, they will continue to enjoy their work in the long term. And sustainable employability benefits the organization, but certainly also employees themselves.
This is how you do it
At IIR they do not have a standard office: their employees are spread over various government agencies. Because they see each other less often in the office, it is extra important to start the conversation, says Corien: “Because all our colleagues work at different locations, that is sometimes an extra challenge. But we still really try to maintain that connection between colleagues.” So start facilitating open conversations and ask the right questions. The openness of conversations where employees can be vulnerable is the key to connectedness. “Employees like to hear that they are not alone.”
Do you also want more vitality in the workplace, but you don't know where to start? “Don't be afraid to just ask for help,” Corien says. “We have had many discussions with other organizations that were already working on vitality. Exchanging tips is very valuable!” And there were no huge budgets there either, but the important thing is that you just start.
And so Corien shares a few more tips: make sure you create ambassadors for the program, so that it really becomes something of employees and not something from management. Start small, and find people around you who share the same passion and want to join you. Together you can achieve vitality in the workplace!
Do you also want to get started with quick insights into the vitality of your employees? This is possible with the fast, easy and fun measuring method of 2DAYSMOOD!
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How? Our measuring method is the renewed employee survey, because it’s faster, easier and science based. A continuous source of data with which you can improve your (team) culture step-by-step and increase employee happiness. In short, that is profitable for your organization!
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