As the industry marks mental health awareness week, Pure Planet’s co-founder Steven Day tells Utility Week how his company was set up with the importance of its employees’ mental health in mind – from an unlimited holiday allowance to virtual wine and cheese clubs.

“Mental health awareness is something that we accommodate already in the general ethos of working practice at Pure Planet,” Steven Day tells Utility Week.

Day, one of three founders of the app-based challenger brand, says his company dislikes the dualism of the phrase “work/life balance”. While he does not dismiss the concept completely, he firmly believes his staff should not be over burdened with work at the expense other things in life.

“You will often hear some people say ‘work/life balance’, it’s been a buzzword for years, it immediately sets up this dichotomy between the two. You are still the same person when you go to work, you are not another character that walks in the office door and then changes persona when you walk out. It’s just us, and we need to be recognised for what we are, for our strengths and weaknesses, success and failings,” he adds.

Steven Day, co-founder of Pure Planet

Pure Planet’s staff were already allowed to work from home whenever they wanted and to take unlimited amounts of holiday, all paid, provided they give their team enough notice. To date, not a single member of staff has abused that position, Day says.

“Legally we have to state in people’s contracts that they have a required minimum to take. They are free and able to take as much holiday as they need, over and above that, people are quite controlled about it.”

Day adds that one employee felt comfortable enough to give a talk to his colleagues about his own struggles with mental health, after using the supplier’s flexible approach to working to take an afternoon off every week to seek professional counselling.

“That was a really well attended talk, it was an example of airing it. He said he would tell everyone and share because he had a lot of benefit from the treatment and support he got – to pass on that it’s ok, there’s no social stigma, that it could affect anyone.”

Furthermore, the company’s ‘Pure Me’ programme allows employees of the Bath-based retailer an opportunity to go into the surrounding countryside for a five mile ‘walk and talk session’ with colleagues. Day says it’s about self-development and self-reflection outdoors, as opposed to sitting inside and watching power point presentations.

Copyright: Pure Planet 2020

“We wanted to spend time thinking about how we can advance as individuals, in all aspects of our lives, not just at work”, he adds.

In addition to the above initiatives, the lockdown has resulted in some of the company’s employee activities  being forced online. Using internal comms system Slack, Pure Planet’s staff have created breakaway groups such as virtual wine and cheese clubs, as well as a book club.

He continues: “One that’s become very popular in the last few months because of Covid is the Pure Kids channel, as we call it. All the parents are in there swapping notes about all the strife and all the things that have been going on with kids at home, with home teaching and juggling work and family, there has been a lot of support shared on that.”

You can read Utility Week’s recent interview with Pure Planet’s three co-founders here.

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