Zarah, Project Manager, talks about her new responsibility as our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Wellbeing Lead
I’m Zarah and I’m a Project Manager & Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Wellbeing Lead at Finastra. When lockdown started in March 2020, I really felt the effects of not being active or exercising. I heard that one of the offices had virtual lunch HIIT classes, so got in touch with the CSR team to ask if Finastra could hold virtual wellbeing sessions for our employees across the world. To my surprise, I was asked if I wanted to set them up! I knew I wanted to do this, as I could help so many people across Finastra globally. It took a lot of hard work and planning to get us to a program of daily sessions, but has all been worthwhile to have this available to all employees.
We started with weekly Mindfulness, Pilates and daily Fitness Sessions. With the support of colleagues in Milan and Bucharest we added Partyrobics, Zumba, Functional Training and even Cooking Classes!
This is also ties in with Finastra’s initiative OPENworking initiative, that refreshed employees are more innovative, productive, and frankly - more fun to be around! Taking breaks throughout the day and setting boundaries are both essential in avoiding burnout and promoting digital balance.
Our classes have now grown into a full schedule with a variety of classes to support our colleagues around the world. This now includes FitVybe, YogaPilates with Anna Lovelock, Partyrobics with Body Expressive, Zumba with Micol Marzorati, Functional Training with Simona Ferioli, Qi Gong with Catherine Page, and Mindfulness with Vaneeta Mahatani. Through employee recommendations and research, we have onboarded these incredible facilitators, in turn giving back and supporting independent businesses who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
It is so important to make time for our mental health as well as physical health. Our weekly mindfulness sessions with Vaneeta provide tools to reduce stress, regulate behaviour, emotions, and develop a sense of purpose along the way. One of my favourites has been the eating meditation, I did this with a piece of dark chocolate - I can honestly say this was the best chocolate I have tasted! There are many different ways to be mindful, take a few minutes to focus on your breathing or try a guided meditation online.
However, meditation may not be for everyone, so we have also had regular sessions on Nutrition with advice for healthier choices and tips to boost your immune system. These actions all contribute to your wellbeing and to live a happier life which has been highlighted further during this difficult period.
The program has been successful in supporting many of our colleagues through this difficult time. We have had over 300 sessions to date and on average 125 participants every week. We will continue to be there for our people, providing access to wellbeing whilst adjusting to a hybrid approach. Those in the office will have in person sessions, whilst those working from home can continue to attend virtually.
I am proud that Finastra has prioritised employee wellbeing whilst supporting small businesses, and feel so lucky to be a part of this and to have made both a difference, and genuine friends along the way.