Champion Spotlight: Tea, talks and moments of sunshine with Centrica
Next up in our Champion Spotlight series, learn how a British energy giant uses ‘moments of sunshine’ to fuel employee wellbeing.
Centrica is the single largest gas supplier to UK customers, and one of our biggest electricity providers, too. So it’s quite fitting that the multinational company supports the mental health of its people with daily doses of ‘sunshine’.
The person behind Centrica’s sunny scheme is Sherena Masharani – a Process Manager and aspiring lawyer. Since joining the firm in October 2019, Sherena has worked a host of placements – between the call centre and legal department – before landing in her current role. In each job, one thing remained constant: Sherena’s commitment to wellbeing, as well as diversity and inclusion.
Last year, amid the mass shift from office to homework, Sherena was alive to the potential loss of communication and spirit among her team. So, to foster a remote culture of conversation – especially around mental health – she asked herself two questions:
- “How can I help my team to feel fulfilled when we’re going through this change?”
- “How can I keep that steady drumbeat of community spirit going and make sure people feel supported?”
The answer, in both cases, was a wellbeing-centred email and podcast.
‘A Moment of Sunshine’, Sherena says, is a daily “good news story, and a place for everyone to come together for a few minutes each day”. Penned by Sherena, the mailout was at first sent to her team alone, yet word-of-mouth has seen interest skyrocket. Today, A Moment of Sunshine’s distribution list extends to Centrica’s field staff, leadership team, and the CEO.
Filled with fun facts, recipes, trivia and celebrations – as well as key mental health information and resources – Sherena’s daily dispatch aims to break up the normal flow of emails, invite people to take a brief respite from their workday, reflect on how they’re feeling, and seek support when needed.
Meanwhile, Sherena also runs an internal podcast: ‘Tea & Talks’. This seeks to underline what makes Centrica great: its people.
The pod, Sherena says, “showcases the people behind Centrica, from Managing Directors to the CEO, and creates a space for fun and opportunities to talk about important topics – like mental health.”
Light-hearted by nature, the podcast is a space for people to tune out from work, while also acting as a space to discuss key matters of wellbeing, and guide listeners to the support that’s available.
Sherena says: “If one person listens to the podcast and finds the resources helpful, that’s a job well done in my eyes.”
Power to the people: Centrica’s staff feedback about the scheme
“I just wanted to say thanks for the daily positive emails you do. It always makes me smile so I thought you should know it does make a difference.”
“Thank you for your daily positivity messages. They have really helped brighten up a difficult time for us all!”
“Getting a daily positivity message is a huge boost every day.......and the ‘tea with’ podcasts are brilliant. Connecting people in a positive way is so important, and having it driven by colleagues demonstrates the empowerment we need to succeed as a business. So I wanted to say thanks.”
“I just wanted to say thanks for these newsletters; they really are something that makes me stop and gather perspective on what is going on.”
Champion insight: What Sherena’s learned, in her own words
Keep it simple, and accessible
“I’ve been reading Atomic Habits by James Clear, and really believe in the ‘accumulation of 1%’ theory. I try to move the dial by 1%, as opposed to trying to jump into a huge campaign or task. Little things can make a big difference. The Moment of Sunshine email is a small thing that grew organically, and provides a little pick-me-up for everyone.”
I try to do what I'd do in-person
“Change is hard for everyone, and we were going through a lot of change. I wanted to help people feel comfortable and supported during this shift, and so I tried to mimic some of the fun, community activities we’d do during a normal day in the office. I wanted to continue to promote wellbeing in a fun, engaging way.”
Mental health can affect anyone at any time
“We need to keep talking about mental health and the resources that are available. While I started these initiatives as a result of the pandemic, I want to keep them going, and keep that conversation open through the platforms that we have.”
Like this post? Check out the last instalment – ‘Vlogs, dogs and mental health with John Lewis Partnership’ – here.
Want to learn more about how wellbeing champions can help shift the culture in your organisation? Get in touch today.