Supporting intern wellbeing with WellTrack
This summer we had the pleasure of trialling a cool new tool for tracking workplace wellbeing. It’s been very rewarding working with the WellTrack team, and we wanted to share some stories and celebrate the supportive work environments that our summer interns have been lucky enough to experience.
Wellbeing is more than a buzzword. There’s more background on the business case for wellbeing on their website, here.
Our wellbeing and hauora directly affect our ability to do our jobs, maintain healthy relationships and cope with stressful situations.
Having a proper strategy towards workplace wellbeing, accompanied with the right tools to implement it is the first step in moving from rhetoric to reality.
At Summer of Tech we have always worked extremely hard to select & onboard employers & mentors who are new to our programmes, to ensure they understand the responsibility they’re taking on when hiring summer interns. The majority of this work sits with the team, mentor, buddy & manager in the company. In the past, we’ve been available to support internships, but have rarely been called on to provide support in the moment, often hearing about stress in the workplace long after it’s occurred.
This year we wanted to take our support the next level, to proactively check in with interns in the first week, the mid-point, and at the end of their internship. Instead of waiting until the end of summer, we invited them to tell us how they were feeling, and to offer support from our team, as a neutral party, if they were experiencing stress during their internships.
With WellTrack’s help, we set up a quick survey that would be delivered to interns via SMS message. No more than 10 questions. Entirely anonymous, unless they wanted to ask for a follow-up call, in which case their contact info would be shared with our team. We had 214 interns working in different organisations throughout NZ, across our Summer of Tech, Summer of Biz and Tupu Tek programmes. They all received the WellTrack SMS invitation in December and January, and the final one is being sent out today.
Our 1st survey went out in December, we had a 59% response rate, and were stoked to see overall engagement in the high 90% range:
3 interns asked for a follow-up call, and the feedback from those who were missing some support, not feeling valued or engaged was as follows:
Our mid-summer survey had a 61% response rate, and the numbers were consistent in terms of engagement (Note: there was variation in the numbers with the regional breakdowns, this is not a copy/paste error!):
5 interns asked for a follow-up call this time round, and although 2 of them wanted to tell us personally how awesome the experience had been, we did monitor the “stressed out” factors closely. In all cases where a student requested follow up, the most common solution was to act as a sounding board and coach them on the best way for them to raise the issue with their manager.
What we learned
This was a hugely insightful process for us to go through, and we want to thank ALL the interns who responded to the survey. We also want to thank the overwhelming majority of employers who supported interns to have a fulfilling experience! There will always be life & personality & business factors that challenge our wellbeing, and we have been hugely impressed with the employers who have responded to our gentle reminders and direct feedback to improve the situation for interns where they could.
The reasons given for a lack of wellbeing during internships were varied, but for future employers, here are the red flags:
- employer preparation: do you have a plan for your intern? enough work? the right work? the right support structure in place before they start?
- real work: do you have meaningful, engaging work for them to do, as part of a team.
- access to a buddy, mentor, manager: approachable, supportive people they can go to with “the silly questions”,culture questions, work questions, what next questions as they find their feet
- regular check ins with your intern regarding how they’re feeling about the workload and tasks they’re doing.
- training resources/support: places for them to go to learn
A HUGE thank you to the WellTrack team!! We love your values, you’ve gone above & beyond the call of duty to help us make this work for a large/varied pool of interns. We definitely want to continue to measure intern wellbeing and provide a support, feedback & fix it loop for interns & their employers throughout our programmes.