In the latest part of our champion spotlight series, discover how John Lewis Partnership uses its historic wellbeing programme – and one adorable pet dog – to celebrate mental health at work
Ask 100 people what comes to mind when they think about John Lewis Partnership, and many will gush about the iconic, life-affirming Christmas ad campaign. Others will point out it’s the UK’s largest employee-owned business – with a workforce of 80,000+ partners.
Perhaps due to the sheer triumph of the two above points, not many of your 100 will talk about John Lewis Partnership’s internal wellbeing service. But they should. Launched in 1929, it predates the actual NHS, with over £20 million invested every single year.
Yet even the most expansive mental health programmes will hit a ceiling without the right employee leaders. And at John Lewis Partnership, that’s where Scott Sutherland comes in.
Scott is a Wellbeing Practitioner, which means taking calls from workmates in distress, and escalating case scenarios as needed. Ultimately, it’s his job to support his fellow partners – giving advice, recommendations, and signposting to expert help. Often, that’s Unmind.
Scott uses Unmind himself, and as part of his role to make authentic recommendations to each person he speaks to. This could be a specific Tool, a Series, or a Fireside chat.
The conversations Scott has are serious by nature. He has spoken to colleagues “about absolutely everything” – from self-esteem challenges to more specific, and acute, mental health conditions. Yet in terms of approach, it’s important to remember there’s a clear difference between ‘serious’ and ‘bleak’. And this is what makes Scott so effective.
Tasked with filming videos that highlight Unmind’s offering, Scott was determined to create something that was authentic and informative, but also fun to watch. The result is a vlog that’s packed with as much entertainment as it is info.
Scott will be the first to admit the real star is his dog, Floss, yet this only underlines the vlog’s power. For his fellow partners – who want to proactively manage their mental health – these bitesize clips are starting to rival the yearly John Lewis Christmas ad in terms of appointment viewing.
Champion insight: What Scott's learned, in his own words
“When speaking on the vlog, authenticity is really important for me, and I think it builds trust with anyone who watches. I will call a spade a spade – if I think something is a waste of time, I’ll say it.”
Make it fun for others, and yourself
“The aim is to hook into someone’s brain, so they’ll remember what we talked about. That’s why Floss always makes an appearance – people remember the video because my dog makes them laugh. For me, I’ve really been enjoying the process of making the vlog and getting to tap into my creative side.”
Talk about your own experience
“People have mentioned how the vlog really brings the Unmind resources to life. I think the quality of the product is outstanding, and I don’t want to just recommend that people download the app, I want to share really specific, bespoke recommendations of my own experiences.”
Like this post? Check out the first in the series, 'What are wellbeing champions, and why are they so important?' with BAE Systems.
Want to learn more about how wellbeing champions can help shift the culture in your organisation? Get in touch today.