We spoke to Becky Broughall, Colleague Experience & Wellbeing Lead at Pets at Home, for the latest in our employee wellbeing insights series. This series sees us interviewing those at the heart of this increasingly important area and here, Becky takes us through how supportive Pets at Home is to its staff through a number of wellbeing related initiatives. 


SWW: Can you describe any initiatives Pets at Home is running to boost colleague wellbeing? 

Becky Broughall: We split our wellbeing offering into four key areas – mental health, financial wellbeing, social wellbeing and physical and nutritional wellbeing. The initiatives we are currently focused on are mental health training and financial wellbeing as those are the two most prevalent areas our colleagues raised in our 2020 listening survey. We’ve recently held our 2022 listening survey and will be aligning our strategy to those results over the coming weeks and months.

In relation to mental health, we’ve set ourselves the target of training one colleague in each of our vet practices as a Mental Health First Aider, along with our Distribution Centre shift managers. Every store manager and first line manager in our Distribution Centres are currently receiving Line Managers Mental Health Training and we are about to launch this to our Support Office line managers too. We’re committed to providing training to our colleagues on mental health, and to increasing their knowledge and awareness so they can support both colleagues in their teams, as well as recognising their own mental health and wellbeing needs along with those in their personal lives too. So far, we’ve trained 660 colleagues as Mental Health First Aiders and 265 in Line Managers Mental Health – and that number is only going to increase. 

We also have a big focus on financial wellbeing at the moment.  Our Reward team have put together an incredible internal directory highlighting all of the different financial aid and advice that’s available to colleagues – from our own Pets at Home support to programmes offered by the government, so everything colleagues may need is in one easy to access place. 


employee wellbeing insights

Are the wellbeing programmes available to colleagues in Stores and Groom Rooms, Vets4Pets, or Distribution Centres different to those offered to Support Office colleagues? If so, could you tell us how they differ?

BB: Our wellbeing strategy covers all corners of the business with different tailoring depending on the needs of each business area. Our Mental Health training programme spans every area of the business with different levels of training depending on the role of the colleague. For our recently launched Wellbeing Handbook, we developed different versions for different colleague groups to help tailor the information and make it as relevant as possible, but the information is accessible to all. The same goes for the information available on our reward and benefits platform – this is accessible to all colleagues, all the time. 

We have launched an initiative called Coffee Roulette in our Support Office which was an idea from one of our colleagues. It was introduced pre-pandemic and then re-launched in the new virtual world! Colleagues are matched at random with another colleague every two weeks and they can put 15 minutes in to get to know each other. We have over 1,000 colleagues across our Support Offices, and with many colleagues adopting hybrid working this has been a great initiative to meet colleagues you wouldn’t normally work with. We have also just launched Coffee Roulette to the Partners of our vet practices, so they can get to know other Partners, build relationships and create social connections. With our vet practices being spread across the entire country this is another great way to keep in touch!


Since being part of the wellbeing team what has given you the most satisfaction?

BB: For me it’s increasing our wellbeing index year on year. Last year we indexed at 77% and this year we’ve seen an increase of 5% taking us to 82%. This score is extremely positive and allows me and the team to know the measures we’re putting in place are having a positive impact. We still have a lot of work to do but it’s really reassuring to know we’re on the right track!


We see you started a Colleague Hardship Fund at the start of the pandemic, how has this impacted colleague wellbeing?

BB: We launched our Hardship fund, known as Caring4Colleagues before the pandemic but in March 2020, we injected £1m into the fund to help our colleagues at a time when they needed it most. We didn’t put any colleagues on furlough, but colleagues were facing a lot of uncertainty and we wanted to support them in the best way possible. Since 2020, we’ve awarded 1038 grants, which is 85% of all applications, totalling £1.3m. The average amount awarded to each colleague that applies is £1,300 – which supports colleagues with situations including outstanding debt and 1st months’ rent and deposit to help them secure a new place to live.


When it comes to your own wellbeing, what are your non-negotiables / must do activities that you turn to to maintain your wellbeing?

BB: For me, my non-negotiables are the basics – ensuring I have a lunch break and eat something healthy(ish!) If I can get a lunchtime walk in that’s even better but if not, switching off at 5pm and heading out for a wander really helps. In the winter, a lunchtime walk is a must to get some daylight. Being organised is also key to my wellbeing – making sure I’m on top of my workload and meetings, keeping my diary free enough to get work done, that kind of thing.


How do these activities make you feel?

BB: I definitely notice the difference if I don’t do them. It’s really easy to get lost in work and storm through without taking a break, but it doesn’t do me any favours so making myself stop and have a breather is really important. I have a tendency to do lots of tasks at once so taking a moment to stop and breathe helps me reset my focus!


Finally, if you had to give one piece of advice to someone who wants to get involved in colleague wellbeing at work, what would it be?

BB: There are so many events, articles and webinars out there focused on wellbeing so my advice would be to attend, watch and read whenever you can. We all learn from each other and our goal of improving the lives of our colleagues is shared – and you can never learn enough from others in the industry.


For more employee wellbeing insights, visit our blog and read our previous Q&As with those overseeing wellbeing at their companies.