Campus Society founder Rashid Ajami talks us through the health and wellbeing schemes in place to support the employees at his business.
London-based Campus Society is a platform designed to globalise knowledge from students around the world. It aims to remove borders between universities and offer students a way to collaborate. The business officially launched in July last year, and already boasts a 35-strong team.
“Campus Society is all about ideas, not personal profiles. It’s structured by ‘channels’ of interest – there are already over 18,000 existing channels that cover individual universities or subjects and a further 12,000 user generated channels,” explained founder, Rashid Ajami.
The stresses of the job
Ajami takes a very pragmatic view of the stresses of running a young, but growing business.
“As a startup, there will always be new challenges and you have to accept that very early on. It can be stressful, especially when you have multiple tasks and challenges coming at you from all angles,” he said.
“You can feel like there is a lot of weight on your shoulders. Having said that, I do have many ways to deal with stress.”
Ajami is keen to highlight that, when he thinks about investing in health and wellbeing, mental health is an important consideration. He believes that having a healthy mental state allows everyone to be more productive, think more clearly and be more positive.
“Putting employees in an environment they need to thrive makes them feel more at home at the company. They instantly become more committed, passionate and have more buy-in to what the business is aiming to achieve,” he explained.
Putting your money where your mouth is
There are some health and wellbeing procedures in place at Campus Society that can be done on a budget.
For example, open communication and weekly check-ins, from both a personal and a business level, have been established to help mitigate risk.
In addition, the business organises team lunches, yoga and mindfulness sessions, company runs and fresh fruit. It also supports flexible working options to cater to its employees’ wellbeing.
“As much as possible I encourage everyone to use the standing desks. We have weekly cooldowns – where we talk about each area of the team, what they’re doing and what they have coming up. We provide snacks and drinks and it’s a chance to wind down and catch up as a team, he said.
“I have a friend whose business employs one person whose job is to help with any problems in the company – someone employees can go to for a chat, voice any concerns, almost like therapy. I’d love to employ someone who focuses solely on that.”
The payoff of a health and wellbeing scheme
The particular wellbeing risks involved with being part of a small or medium-sized company (SME) can include high levels of stress.
“Smaller businesses have more risk, more unknowns, more responsibility perhaps, different types of work – all of which can cause more stress,” said Ajani.
However, he is also of the mindset that smaller companies tend to have a family-style atmosphere, bringing employees closer together – which is central to wellbeing. In larger organisations employees can seem like small fish in a big pond.
To really achieve this culture, he added, a business has to dedicate some time to developing a health and wellbeing structure.
“There’s no reason why a small business can’t cultivate the same type of environment as a large, corporate organisation and show its focus towards managing health and wellbeing in the workplace.”
“High employee morale is the most important part of a business. A business is its people and should always be a priority. I’ve seen the difference it makes to both creativity and productivity – which are the most important parts of any growing, agile business.”