In Conversation With...William Hill

20 Aug 2019

William Hill on how they are empowering their employees to proactively improve their mental wellbeing


‍What does it mean to flourish at work?

A healthy mind is the most powerful factor in fulfilling our potential. It equips us to decipher complex problems, dream up new ideas, deal with setbacks and stresses and determine the best way forward.

We spend somewhere in the region of 84,000 hours over the course of our lifetimes in the workplace and so our ability to flourish there can have a significant impact on both our professional and personal lives. Several factors can influence our wellbeing in the workplace, including environment, culture, emotions and relationships, to name a few. Appreciating what these factors might be and then taking a proactive approach to look after our mental wellbeing can enable everyone to grow and thrive. 

When it comes to our mental wellbeing, there is a growing acknowledgement that we all have mental health all of the time, and that, just like our physical health, prevention is better than cure. According to the latest research from AON Employee Benefits, two out of five organisations have a formal mental wellbeing strategy in place and, over the next year, 80% of employers will be looking to improve education, awareness and prevention on health and wellbeing programmes.

The case for investing in a proactive mental wellbeing strategy stacks up. A Deloitte study, published alongside the Stevenson Farmer Thriving at Work Review, estimated that 'mental health awareness' and 'proactive interventions' can result in an ROI of up to £8.40 for every £1 spent. 'Reactive support' can result in an ROI of up to £5.10 for every £1 spent. 

The evidence suggests that providing a holistic approach is not only good for the mental wellbeing of the workforce; it's also good for business. So how do we begin to compliment reactive support with proactive initiatives, and in turn deliver a mental health and wellbeing strategy that enables all employees to flourish in the workplace?

Mental Health as a strategic driver at William Hill

William Hill's Reward Business Partner, Sam Watson, talks to Unmind about how mental health and wellbeing is being used as a strategic driver within William Hill and how through the introduction of Unmind, they are empowering all of their employees to proactively improve their mental wellbeing.

1. Sam, tell us about all things mental health and wellbeing at William Hill? 

Wellbeing is something that we’re really focussing on at William Hill. In May we ran a whole month of campaigns focussed on colleague wellbeing, and in particular mental health. One of our key campaigns was the launch of Unmind for all of our colleagues globally, but alongside that we also talked about financial wellbeing, the support we offer to families, and the work we do in the communities we’re part of. We’re really passionate about giving our people the support and tools they need to understand and improve their wellbeing. 

2. Why is mental health in the workplace becoming so important for the business? 

It’s estimated that around 1 in 4 adults experience a mental health problem in any given year, which for William Hill translates to around 4,000 colleagues. Here at William Hill, we recognise the resultant business benefits, where improving colleagues’ understanding of mental health and wellbeing has been shown to boost productivity, and reduce absenteeism and presenteeism. Our ambition is to make William Hill a great place to work, so clearly any issue which impacts such a large number of people is one that’s really important to us. We want mental health and wellbeing to be part of our day-to-day conversation, helping all of our colleagues– whether they’re experiencing a problem or not – to thrive.

We also recognise the importance of mental health to the wider wellbeing of our colleagues. We’re partnering with Unmind on their Q3 campaign that focuses on how diet and nutrition impacts our mental health. We’re also making sure that our colleagues can access our other wellbeing tools through Unmind. 

3. How do you measure ROI and the impact of mental health and wellbeing initiatives?

In the past, our main method of measuring our colleagues’ wellbeing would be through an annual engagement survey. Although this is really useful it only gives a snapshot once a year, so we’re now doing more regular pulse checks which gives us insights into how our overall strategy is going. Then, with the launch of Unmind, we’ve got access to real-time analytics about how our colleagues are engaging with the app. Being able to see which Series and Tools they’re interacting with gives us great insight into how they’re feeling, and what we can do to support them. We can also see the impact of specific initiatives through the different categories that form the Unmind Index. 

4. Why Unmind and why a digital approach to mental health and wellbeing? 

The traditional approach to wellbeing has typically been focussed on reactive care. We have a really strong Employee Assistance Programme which offers counselling and advice to colleagues and their families, but usage is much lower than the 1 in 4 statistic we talked about earlier. Unmind is designed to be used regularly to proactively manage your mental health and wellbeing. The fact it’s available on all devices makes it really accessible for our colleagues, and you can get a lot of benefit from only a few minutes every day.

People expect to be able to access products and services at any time wherever they are – a wellbeing strategy that doesn’t meet these expectations is just not going to work in a digital world.

Ed Airey, Group Reward Director at William Hill 


To meet the ever-rising demands of the workplace, employees often feel they need to work better, faster, longer and give more of themselves. This onerous approach can have a negative impact on our physical, emotional, mental and relational energy that drives us. Here at Unmind, we are at the forefront of digital mental health provision ensuring that our clients including William Hill have the tools they need to flourish at work. 

So what does ‘Flourishing at Work’ really mean…

Flourishing at work centres around the four key sources of energy available to us and how we utilise these to be able to flourish. These different types of energy ultimately act as the totality of energy we store and expend in our everyday life. 

So, let’s look at the four different types of energy in a bit more detail. Each one is closely linked and inter-relational with the others, and when we get the balance right, we create the recipe for flourishing at work. ‍‍

Physical Energy

This includes eating well, getting enough sleep and exercise, how we can build our physical energy so that we can perform at our best and take care of ourselves. Whether that’s travelling far and wide across the country for work, long-distance commutes or running from meeting to meeting we can often underestimate the day to day workplace physical stressors.

Emotional Energy

The second energy area is our emotional energy.  Our emotions can fuel us or drain us depending on what we’re experiencing and how our bodies and minds are responding to our experiences. When we have more emotional energy at work, we tend to be more engaged in the work we’re doing, and consequently perform better. Our workplace journey is full of highs and lows and being able to cope with those with sufficient energy stores is key.

Mental Energy

The third source of energy is our mental energy. How we use our minds to focus our attention without cognitively exhausting our reserves is always a challenge. Whilst managing multitasking versus mono-tasking, we are constantly stretching our mental reserves to unpick the quickest and most efficient to go about our everyday life.

Relational Energy

The fourth and final source of energy, is our relational energy. That’s the energy we get, and can give, to others. We are social creatures, wired for connection, and our relationships can be a fantastic source of fuel for us. Positive interactions with others can lift us up and keep us working hard towards goals together. But we also have the power to lift others up and be a source of fuel for them. We spend 80% of our life at work, and our relational energy can ebb and flow both inside and outside the workplace; building positive, nutritional relationships can be the fuel you need to thrive. 

‍An advocate of workplace energy management is Geoff McDonald, ex Unilever VP, Co-Founder of Minds@Work and Unmind collaborator. Here, Geoff talks about his diagnosis of anxiety-fuelled depression and some of the warning signs he was given before his crucible moment; touching on how we address energy management and managing recovery. 

The Art of Recovery

If you feel like you need to recharge your batteries and refuel, it’s important to take the time to notice when you’re feeling drained, and the activities, people, emotions and moments in your life that deplete you. By understanding this, you’ll have the power to make changes and craft the life that brings out the best in you – not just for yourself, but for your friends, colleagues and family too. You can make choices that will shape how much energy you bring to your work. But it’s important to emphasise that this doesn’t necessarily mean doing more; it means doing things differently. 

Here at Unmind, we are passionate about giving our clients and their employees the tools to be able to flourish at work. Whether that’s through industry-leading evidence-based content and assessments, confidential access and data reporting or AI and innovation through our chatbot Zeno, we put the user at the heart of their mental health. 

With the release of the Unmind Series ‘Flourishing at Work’, created by Dr Hazel Harrison and brought to life by the personal stories of Geoff McDonald, we are bringing employees one step closer to bringing their whole self to work. This series is now available on the Unmind platform alongside our suite of existing content. 

Thanks Sam, we are looking forward to the next stage of our journey with William Hill and helping their employees on their journey to better mental health. 

If you want to find out more about Unmind, get in touch -

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