WPP Health staff hook up to health-tech firm to monitor for stress and anxiety

A groundbreaking partnership between WPP Health Practice and health-tech company BioBeats aims to recruit 100 agency staff to volunteer for a major initiative to understand and improve stress and anxiety at work.

WPP Health staff will be monitored for signs of stress and anxiety at work and elsewhere

The announcement, made today to coincide with World Mental Health Day, is WPP Health’s latest initiative to improve workplace wellbeing.

Those taking part in the three-month trial, which will involve staff in London, Milan and Sydney, will be given a wearable monitor that will collect data such as heart-rate variability, respiration, number of steps taken and the amount of sleep.

Health tech

They will use an app to track and input their levels of anxiety, not only during working hours but also during weekends and evenings.

The app uses AI to provide personalised insights and solutions to reduce stress and improve wellbeing.

BioBeats will provide aggregated and anonymised data to WPP Health, with the results helping to determine areas in which the company can invest to further develop mental-health support for its staff.

Wider context

This comes amid mounting concern over mental health, with new research released by Public Health England (PHE) this week revealing that more than eight in 10 Britons (83 per cent) have experienced symptoms of poor mental health in the past year.

Earlier this year a PRWeek-PRCA study found that 60 per cent of PR professionals said they have suffered or been diagnosed with mental ill-health.

And new research released today by the PRCA and Optimum revealed that nine of out 10 PR professionals are "struggling with mental wellbeing".

This week PHE, in partnership with the NHS, launched 'Every Mind Matters'. Backed by the royal family and a host of businesses and organisations, it is the first government-led national campaign intended to help prevent people from developing long-term mental-health problems.

Investing in wellbeing

The new partnership with BioBeats is the latest phase in what is a priority area for WPP Health – the wellbeing of its staff.

Last year it launched a Wellness Lab at its London headquarters, which it describes as "a living laboratory where new products and services are prototyped with a workforce of almost 400, translating guidelines and recommendations into behaviours".

Staff are supported with weekly breathing classes to help combat stress and boost psychological health, as well as Mind Matters workshops, one-to-one counselling sessions and regular yoga classes.

Claire Gillis, international chief executive of WPP Health Practice, said: "This partnership allows us to apply evidence-based behavioural science to an increasingly critical area for any agency or company – mental health. We've been successfully operating wellbeing pilots around our networks and are keen to combine these initiatives with the latest health-tech solutions."

She added: "Importantly for an international group, this project offers the potential for us to roll out more personalised mental-health support at scale. It also gives us insight into how we can make further improvements. As the lines between work and our personal lives continue to blur, I have no doubt that health-tech corporate platforms such as BioBeats will change the way we invest in workplace wellbeing."

David Plans, founder and chief executive of BioBeats, commented: "WPP Health Practice has already started to roll out developed initiatives to workplace wellbeing and will be able to use BioBeats data to further prioritise its resources to target meaningful areas. As we all move towards the future, and the definition of what it means to 'work' evolves, data on employee mental health and wellbeing will form an integral part of any successful corporate strategy."

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