When Covid-19 caused the widespread closure of workplaces in March, many employees were left struggling to deal with the psychological impact of working from home. Within weeks, research showed that most were worrying more, sleeping less and, not surprisingly, feeling more tired. But management and employees at Wrkit, the employee wellness software specialists, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, knew exactly what to do.
Within six weeks of the global lockdown, Wrkit had rolled out an updated version of its employee wellbeing POWR app to more than 60 companies, providing more than 100,000 employees globally with access to much needed mental health support.
“Amid the chaos of the shutdown and with minimal demand on client time, energy or technical infrastructure, we made the POWR app available to employees working remotely, supporting and enabling them to stay engaged, motivated and, most importantly, stay physically and psychologically well,” explains Jason Brennan, Wrkit Director of Wellbeing and Leadership.
In addition to the scientifically and clinically based support tools available in the POWR app, the Wrkit team quickly developed a dedicated ‘Coping with COVID-19’ section. This provides staff with essential information, ongoing advice and motivational exercises both for them and their families.
Perhaps the best test of the power of POWR is how useful staff at the British Medical Association and many NHS (National Health Servce) Trusts have found it. Many of these people have been working tirelessly since the COVID 19 crisis hit.
“Our staff have found really beneficial, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. The exercises, tools and challenges are very flexible and guide people to develop and improve their own wellbeing – and being available 24 hours a day on a variety of platforms makes it ideal for our workforce,” says David Bell, HR Manager at NHS Central Northwest London.
POWR, which stands for Positive Occupational and Wellness Resource, was first launched in 2018 but was upgraded in January of this year. It was developed over several years in partnership with Imagine Health Ireland which provides clinical support to all Google Ireland staff. The POWR app is based on real clinical interactions and interventions and provides each user with a personalised wellbeing experience. It encourages employees to monitor and manage their own health and wellbeing development. It offers professional advice on psychological health; emotional wellbeing; physical and nutritional needs; personal and relationship development as well as working habits and professional growth.
POWR measures a person’s overall health and wellbeing and creates personalised health plans using push technology to maintain motivation over time. It is continually updated with clinically developed plans by a team of psychologists. New articles, blogs and videos are added weekly.
The latest version, POWR Version 6, includes substantial improvements to the mobile interface and the addition of clinically based meditations, interactive breathing exercises and reflective practices. POWR Version 6 is also easier for organisations to launch to staff working remotely.
‘The POWR tool is designed to help people get the most out of everything they do,” says Wrkit Clinical Director Dr. Ian Gargan. “It educates and makes recommendations about how to improve overall wellbeing. It also tells users what they are already doing well, to encourage and reinforce good habits.”
For employees working at home, the POWR app is proving invaluable. Just two weeks into the lockdown, research showed that 60 per cent of employees were exercising less and feeling more fatigued. Some 64 per cent reported that worry was interfering with their sleeping patterns. After six weeks, 44 per cent of employees said they were working longer hours. Nearly 80 per cent were missing their work routines and a staggering 89 per cent missed socialising with work colleagues.
The Covid update to the POWR app includes newly designed interactive daily practises to reduce stress and anxiety, increase positive feelings and help develop an optimistic mindset. There are also a variety of challenges focused on mental, physical and nutritional health. POWR also allows workforces to stay connected and socialising together on a regular basis.
Aside from the benefits for employees the POWR app also gives organisation’s an overview of employee wellbeing, highlighting issues and enabling them to enhance employee wellness. This helps reduce health risks, enhance personal and team resilience, and affirms a healthy work-place philosophy,” says Peter Jenkinson, CEO of Wrkit.
Wrkit was founded in 2000 and has been providing employee engagement software supports to organisations for over 20 years. Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, Wrkit has an office in London serving more than 200 multinational and local clients. It is currently collaborating with Enterprise Ireland to launch POWR to businesses in Australia and New Zealand.