Kennedys introduces ‘wellbeing’ day to encourage colleagues to look after their mental health

We are delighted to be giving colleagues an annual ‘wellbeing day’ as part of a series of initiatives encouraging them to look after their mental health.

People can take their day’s leave at any point and can also now carry over up to six days of their holiday allowance to use throughout the following year.

Previously, this was limited to five days which had to be taken before the end of April – traditionally one of the busiest periods for law firms – and many were missing out. 

The increased flexibility – coupled with events such as online art and yoga classes, and a series of webinars on everything from healthy eating to managing your finances – aim to recognise the pressures of the last 18 months and help keep the firm’s 2,300 colleagues connected.

Caroline Wilson, global HR director at Kennedys, said: “As anyone working in law firms will know, the end of the financial year can be one of its busiest times and we were finding that people were losing their holiday because they didn’t want to take the time off."

“We didn’t want anyone to miss out or be caused unnecessary stress because of that so we’ve relaxed that rule and now colleagues can book the time off when it suits them."

Similarly, the wellbeing day is a bonus, but by calling it that we’ve found that it’s encouraging people to think differently and use it to do something for themselves. Over 600 people have already requested their wellbeing day so far.

Caroline Wilson, Global HR Director

The announcements come during the firm’s annual wellbeing month, spearheaded by our global head of healthcare and strategy board member, Christopher Malla.

One of the biggest successes this year has been a series of art classes, run live across three different time zones, with more than 100 people around the world taking part.

Christopher said: “The response was absolutely amazing. People only needed a pencil and a piece of paper, and I think that simplicity made it work.

“We had so many lovely emails afterwards from people saying they couldn’t believe how relaxing it had been, just to do something different and to turn off from work for an hour.

“Judging by the standard of pictures we received, many people also found their inner artist!”

Colleagues have also been encouraged to post videos on the intranet, sharing three things that they do to keep well.

It follows the firm’s ‘Let’s Start the Conversation’ series of webinars, designed to inspire and inform, which were launched shortly after the first lockdown in June 2020. Guest speakers included Alex Manners, a presenter, author and Asperger’s champion who talked about Asperger’s in the workplace, mental health blogger and domestic abuse survivor Anneli Roberts, and Will Watt, co-founder of ‘State of Life’ who helps businesses to measure their social impact.

The firm is currently trialling hybrid working, enabling people to split their working week between their home and the office, but is also in the middle of a consultation programme, starting in London, asking colleagues what they want their workplace to look like in the future.

Suzanne Liversidge, Global Managing Partner said: “While home working has been popular, the number one reason we’re hearing from people for coming back into the office is the social interaction. 

“The pandemic really forced us to stretch our thinking about how best we could look after everyone.

“We can’t promise the rooftop pool, but we do want to create an environment that is as welcoming and supportive as possible, and we want to hear people’s views on what that looks like.”

Our continued investment in our people was shown in a record round of promotions announced earlier this year, which saw 86 associates become senior associates and made more than 40 ‘legal directors’ – a new role aimed at creating a stronger career structure for senior lawyers at the firm.