SuperWellness Case Study

Client Success Story: Loughborough University

Discover the inspiring success story of Occupational Health and Wellbeing Manager from Loughborough University Sarah Van Zoelen with SuperWellness.

Client Success Story: Loughborough University

Sarah Van-Zoelen, Specialist Occupational Health and Wellbeing Nurse Manager at Loughborough University, discusses the partnership with SuperWellness. She highlights the importance of empowerment, consistent messaging, and adapting resources for diverse teams.




My name is Sarah Van-Zoelen, I am the Occupational Health and Wellbeing Manager here at Loughborough University. We look after a cohort of somewhere between 4,000 full-time equivalents to 7,000 staff, including our casual staff, and my remit is to look after the occupational health function but also to create the wellbeing function for our staff. So, it’s a huge role of which SuperWellness helps me with.


How has your experience been with SuperWellness?

I’ve always really enjoyed SuperWellness as a company, so I am massively passionate about lifestyle medicine and empowering people on their health and wellbeing journey through diet, through exercise, through all of the pillars of health.

And I think if you can get the pillars of health right, it doesn’t matter what the diagnosis is per say, people’s health and wellbeing tend to improve. And I’ve always loved the visuals of SuperWellness. I used to follow them before I took over the manager role and really enjoyed them. And when we developed our wellbeing framework here at Loughborough, it just seems like an absolutely perfect kind of partnership, because the resources, the material, the ethos, the rationale behind how SuperWellness works just fitted beautifully with what we were hoping to get across here at Loughborough.


How do you feel the SuperChamps programme has benefited employee wellbeing?

So, the SuperChamps programme we use slightly differently to other organisations. So here at Loughborough we have a wellbeing framework, and we recruit, we’ve got approximately 50 wellbeing champions across campus. SuperWellness and the Wellbeing Champs Programme helps us provide our wellbeing champions with monthly resources so that they can keep their wellbeing offering to their local teams very fresh, very varied and from that perspective that’s amazing.

We use the SuperChamps, there are certain aspects of SuperChamps that we use in-house and by that I mean we’re a small team, we’re a very small team, there’s only four of us in the Occupational Health Function and we use the SuperChamps meetup to kind of use it as a bit of a touch point to see how other organisations are running their wellbeing function, to have a refresh about certain topics and just kind of to get ideas. So, we use it on a two-pronged approach which may be different to slightly smaller organisations but yeah really good, the resources are fabulous and it’s not the sort of thing, there’s a team of four that we could run the function and deliver all of that all at once. So yeah.


In what key areas does SuperWellness support you in your role?

Empowerment, for me that’s massively key. I don’t think anybody’s set out to be unwell, feel rubbish, not know how to manage health conditions, not know what to do for the best.

I’m very passionate about lifestyle medicine, very passionate, and I think gut health, I think nutrition is really key, but I also think there’s lots of mixed messages out there and I think you know, I live and breathe this world and I get very confused about what’s right? What’s wrong? What’s up? What’s down? One minute it’s terrible, the next minute it’s superfood.

You’ve got loads of influencers here, there and everywhere selling all sorts of crazy stuff and I think getting a consistent message out there is really important, really important and to show how that consistent message can help people on their health journey and by making small changes tends to mean people commit to it better and can see that development and start to feel better amongst themselves and all you want for people is to feel empowered and well, because if you’ve got a happy workforce, you’re on a winner.


How do you go about using the training, resources, and toolkits from SuperWellness?

So, we, as I say, we’ve got our Wellbeing Champions and every month we upload the different resources from SuperWellness, which is amazing. We really focus on the fact that because Loughborough is such a complex and huge organisation, every area manages things differently. Some people love printing it off and shoving posters up on the wall because that’s what they’ve got access to. Other areas like are all very laptop based and need access to email functions and you know other areas have don’t have either particularly and use it as part of that team leader updates for that for their group.

So again, the thing for us is the diversity that just allows people to communicate with our teams very specifically because they’re all so different. Loughborough University you always think of as academics, but a huge element of our population are our Estates and Facilities teams. They never look at a laptop. They’re never in the same place for very long. You know, how do you communicate with them? How do you communicate with the person that is cutting the grass for the cricket pitches for 12 hours a day in the summer never looks at a laptop. We need that ability to flex it and provide that offering.

So, the resources are brilliant for that, especially with the toolkits and things that come alongside it. That’s really helpful. And we’ve also linked that in, again, particularly for our Estates and Facilities teams. They do kind of monthly, I don’t even know what it’s called really, but monthly meetings where health and safety will deliver a bit of a health theme and they will use the toolkits alongside that, so that’s been really beneficial.


What wellbeing challenges did Loughborough encounter before working with SuperWellness?

So, when I joined, so I started at Loughborough not quite five years ago, and when I started there wasn’t really a wellbeing function for staff. We are a higher education institute, offering for students is spectacular but for me it’s about levelling that kind of weighted approach that actually if you don’t look after your staff, you’ve got nothing to offer your students and keeping that message alive and supporting the staff in their ultimate delivery. It’s also about providing information to our staff that they can use for that student population.

So, it needs to be relatively generic because if you are student facing and students come into you with these problems, the more knowledge you have behind you that’s consistent, generic, that you give yourself, it’s easier to impart. So that’s really key.


But as an employer, it is immensely diverse and one of the big challenges and I think a lot of organisations will find this but a lot of one of our big challenges is time, everybody loves to be busy, busy it seems to be a defining characteristic these days and fitting in wellbeing is tricky but for an organisation this size and with this diversity, communication to everybody is an ongoing challenge in getting that message across, which is why we try many, many various different options available to just try and share that message all of the time. It’s an ongoing challenge. I don’t think I’ll be out of a job just yet.


What has been your favourite SuperChamps meetup and why?

My favourite meetup was the sleep one. So, I absolutely loved that. The gentleman that ran the session, oh I’ve got such a lovely way about him, he was just fabulous, and I’m really passionate about health and wellbeing. Health and wellbeing, I live and breathe the research, I listen to loads of podcasts, I’m constantly trying to keep up to date with what’s coming in, and the lovely thing about it was I still learned something new and I really, really enjoyed it.

I really enjoyed how it was pitched, I enjoyed how you could incorporate the learnings in your own life as well as kind of talk about it in a slightly different fashion. Because I think the challenge with a repeated message is the repetition is good but sometimes you need a different voice for it to land. I really enjoyed that one personally, I thought that was fabulous.

About the Author

As the Creative Manager for SuperChamps, Ellie is committed to expanding and enhancing the SuperChamps programme while also crafting captivating social and marketing content to promote the message of SuperWellness.

During her free time, Ellie engages in various roles as a Personal Trainer, Dance Teacher, and Massage Therapist, demonstrating her passion and dedication to supporting clients in achieving optimal health and wellbeing.

View Ellie’s LinkedIn profile.


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