Cornerstone finalist for Most Innovative Response to COVID Award

Cornerstone finalist for Most Innovative Response to COVID Award

Friday, 12 November 2021

Our wellbeing programme needed re-energising, after being established several years ago. For FY20/21, our objective was to rip up the rulebook and create a market-leading wellbeing programme that supports our people to develop while enhancing our overall Employee Value Proposition. We wanted to remove the stigma around mental health and raise awareness of the support available to any one of our people who needed it. We consider ourselves as 'The Cornerstone Family' and believe no one should struggle alone.

We planned our programme with passion and care, aligning it to topics that were trending nationally throughout the year. We were on the cusp of launching our calendar when March 2021 knocked on our door, and a turn in the external environment no one expected confronted us all – COVID-19.

With our entire workforce mandated to work from home for personal safety, we knew we had to act fast and pull our Cornerstone family in close. We had to be creative, and we had to give our wellbeing programme our all. It was time to step up and demonstrate that we could live up to our core values of 'Inspiring Transformation, Delivering Excellence, Stronger Connections and Sharper Solutions'.


We needed to be innovative in our approach, given the global changes we were all facing and the new normal of working from home. We used our experience working with Reward Gateway over the past four years to build the foundations for our refreshed programme. We had to be slick and seamless in our delivery and demonstrate our readiness, openness and ability to support our people.

So in March 2020, we created a team of wellbeing warriors tasked to devise a refined wellbeing strategy. It needed to be flexible in its approach and accommodate the natural ebbs and flows we would all experience over the coming year. Meanwhile, striving towards our overall objective to improve our employee engagement score.

We began by catering to the physical needs of our workforce, offering to supply ergonomic chairs and IT setups to all of our people.

Across the year, the team delivered 36 events. These ranged from webinars to support our people in maintaining their wellbeing in isolation; workshops for working parents; guided meditations; yoga; active challenges; masterclasses in nutrition; and even magic shows to entertain young and not so young families! We rounded the year off with a jam-packed 'Wellbeing week'. Feedback from quarterly pulse and our leaders’ annual engagement surveys helped align each event with the organisation’s needs and coordinated against the national mental health awareness calendar. We aspired to deliver at least one item of wellbeing education per month to our people to maintain a consistent approach and cement wellbeing as one of our cultural bedrocks.

We trained eight employees to become fully accredited Mental Health First Aiders, which has since grown to 10. Forty-two of our leaders have also completed Mental Health Aware accreditations.

We continued to drive our financial wellbeing incentives with Reward Gateway, seeing savings across the platform. We had an active user base of 96%, with four supermarkets appearing within our top 10 retailers showing that we supported our people where they needed it the most.

To bolster our ethos of the 'Cornerstone Family', we gifted our workforce five days additional annual leave. In addition to our holiday trading programme, this gift ensured that our people could take time out to care for their families if they needed it. We mobilised internal resources to make regular personal wellbeing check-in calls to keep in touch with our people. We also created a 'Remote Working Playbook' to support our leaders in effectively managing the wellbeing and engagement of their remote teams.


Wellbeing is notoriously difficult to measure, and we chose to assess the success of our programme based on the engagement scores received against our 'pride' and 'positive recommendation' elements. We believe these best reflect how our people felt towards Cornerstone during one of the most challenging times in recent history. If people felt proud to work for us and would positively recommend us as a place to work, we would take that as a win!

As a result of our wellbeing programme and efforts across 2020/21, we saw:

  • an overall increase in our engagement survey participation by 23%
  • an increase in our engagement for 'I am proud to work for Cornerstone' by 6%
  • an increase in 'I would positively recommend Cornerstone as a great place to work' by 17%.

A fantastic achievement and something we are proud of as an organisation!

To ensure we kept our finger on the pulse with our programme, we conducted a wellbeing survey in February 2021 where 91% of respondents rated their feelings as positive or neutral.

We have begun to see an uptick in the support offered by our Mental Health First Aiders, which is due to the increased awareness of mental health raised through our programme and in breaking down stigmas.

Transforming quickly to provide the most comprehensive wellbeing agenda the organisation has delivered to date is a fantastic example of team agility to deliver excellence aligned to our company values.

Wellbeing is now firmly cemented as part of Cornerstone's culture, along with ample ongoing, open support provided throughout the year to all of our employees. Continuous evaluation will be critical to the continued success of our wellbeing programme and our future engagement scores.

Even though we did not win the category, we felt like we had won because of all that we have achieved together. Lisa Turner, one of Cornerstone's colleagues who attended the event, summed it up perfectly by saying:

"I left the evening feeling that this was one of my proudest moments and so happy to be part of a team that cares for its people. Thank you, Cornerstone."