If you’re reading this on the day it was published, happy World Health Day (and thanks for keeping such close tabs on the magazine). If you’re reading it on any other day, don’t worry – the content is just as relevant.
That’s because health is an ongoing thing. It’s not really so much something you achieve, as something you maintain. And that can happen in an infinite number of ways – from the big commitments, to the little things that may not seem so important, but have a real impact all the same.
After all, absolutely everything we do impacts our wellbeing in some way or other. It might be to do with fitness or diet. But it could also be emotional, financial, or something else altogether. The point is, it’s all health. If that sounds vague, woolly or a little too far reaching, it’s worth remembering that WHO (the World Health Organization) define health as: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” And they would know, right?
To make healthy choices, you need to have a choice.
At By Miles, we’re always thinking about how we create an environment and culture that gives our people every opportunity to be healthy in the holistic way that WHO definition suggests. Through Spill, any of our team can access mental health support (anonymously) whenever they feel they need it – or, if they prefer, chat with one of our internal mental health first aiders. As part of our wellbeing pledge, we encourage each other to always put wellness before work. That includes taking sick days whenever they’re needed – regardless of whether the need is mental or physical. We also offer monthly 1:1 coaching to employees, because helping them uncover their potential and reach their goals is also key to wellbeing and overall health.
Another really important tool for us is the flexible benefits package we offer through our partner, Thanks Ben.
While we offer some specific health-oriented benefits, like our Cycle to Work scheme, that makes buying a bike more affordable, we’re conscious of not wanting to push people down any one path to wellness. So rather than the limited scope of a typical health-based benefits package (think local gym membership discounts), we offer a solution that’s as open ended and all-encompassing as the idea of health itself.
Every month, everyone gets access to £62 through Thanks Ben which they can spend on literally anything they feel will improve their overall wellness. It’s not a case of ‘use it or lose it’ either. The funds accumulate month on month. So they can be put toward a regular expense, or saved up for something special. We also all get £150 a year, to put towards learning and development expenses – such as books or courses. This can be topped up using the monthly benefit if wanted. After all, for many, learning is a big part both of understanding wellness and of being well.
People across our teams have used their benefits for such diverse ends as: pet food subscriptions, skateboard supplies, language lessons, vacuum cleaners, travel cards, energy bills and all other kinds of things. Below, Dora, our People and Culture Specialist, and Lloyd, our Senior Communications Manager, share just two examples of how our people use these benefits to help maintain the various different sides of health.
“Last year our Chief People Officer, AJ, posted a blog on LinkedIn (it’s called ‘Diversity & Inclusion is over. Stop assuming people’s identities and start cultivating intersectional inclusion.’ and it’s well worth a read once you’re done here). Reading that is where my By Miles mental health journey really begins. I cried, and then I cried some more and then I started researching.
“Reading is one of my favourite things to do, so I started looking for books and used my Thanks Ben Learning and Development budget to buy two amazing books, one from Alice Wong called ‘Disability Visibility’ and Eric Garcia’s ‘We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation’.
“I’ve also used Spill recently. The conversations I’ve had through that service has really helped me – especially in terms of finding new ways to interact with my colleagues. Looking back from where I’m standing now – at the very beginning of a new chapter in my life – both of these things have played a big role in helping me get to where I am now, and to start to feel ‘okay’ with who I am.”
“I’m the kind of person who will only go to the gym if it’s absolutely impossible to find an excuse. So a gym membership wouldn’t be much use to me. To be honest, if my employer were subsidising one, I’d probably be even less motivated to use it, as it wouldn’t feel like so much of a waste. Sure, if the health club is on the end of my road, the weather is just right and I’m not too hungry or too full – I’ll give it a go. But, otherwise, probably not.
“Knowing all this, I recently used my Thanks Ben allowance to call my own bluff. The flexible nature of the benefit allowed me to buy an exercise bench and a few (small) weights to lift. I’ll be sticking this equipment in my garage and trying to commit to working out a few times a week (wish me luck!).
“In an effort to broaden my horizons, I’ve also used some of my allowance for a subscription to The Economist. It’s a weekly dose of business critique that I don’t get elsewhere, and serves as a productive way to pass the time if I want to cheat on my other subscription (that’d be Netflix).
“Looking ahead, I was able to use my Thanks Ben allowance to contribute to a hotel booking in Prague as well. A friend of mine moved out there a few years ago and I’ve struggled to get to see him, so this helped with the cost of catching-up, which is something I’m really looking forward to.”
Flexible benefits are just one of the things that make By Miles a healthy place to work (and when we say place, we don’t mean in the physical sense. Our commitment to flexible working means you can always work from a location that works for you, whether that’s our office or not). So if you’re interested in working for a fairer kind of employer, keep an eye on our careers page.