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A healthy approach to sustainable competition

How can we make sure peak performance goes hand-in-hand with health and wellbeing?

Health and wellbeing is the one pillar of McLaren Racing’s sustainability strategy that might be considered both an outcome of sustainability and a driver for it as well.

When we work towards economic, environmental and social sustainability, we’re more likely to build healthy and happy communities, living with less uncertainty and disruption and with a more positive outlook. Equally, when we prioritise our long-term health over short-term gains, we work better, smarter and more creatively, so we can support each other in finding solutions that help us forge a sustainable future.

Organisations are only as healthy as their people, and over the last decade, we’ve seen a welcome cultural shift towards promoting physical and mental fitness as a non-negotiable foundation for workplace productivity. 

However, as a sports team, when we add in that important layer of competition, we have to work even harder to ensure we find and maintain an optimal balance between peak performance and health. This takes dedication from our people to strive for results, but it also requires a long-term commitment to human-centred health and wellbeing strategies that treat everyone as individuals with a range of different needs.

In our first-ever sustainability report, published in June 2022, we address the ways that we at McLaren are working to support health and wellbeing – from positive steps in our own working environments to fundraising for good causes and building partnerships that help us unlock new possibilities for promoting both performance and 360-degree fitness.


Cultivating a healthy working environment

“Health and wellbeing is more than a benefits package or set of values; it is a critical component of both our on-track performance and wider operational efficiency.”

It’s clear from our sustainability report that creating a positive, nurturing working environment is at the heart of our health and wellbeing pillar, and there are several key ways we’re working to develop this.

The first is the introduction of our Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs). We’re clear that mental conditioning is just as important as physical conditioning, and in 2021, we trained more than 30 MHFAs, who are on-hand to offer mental health support across all shift patterns and departments. Our team of MHFAs are visible on our Mental Health online hub, and are easily identifiable by the MHFA logos in their email signatures. MHFAs act as a point of contact for team members who might be experiencing mental health issues or emotional distress. They’re not therapists or psychiatrists, but they can give initial support and signpost help and guidance. Whether people need an MHFA or not, their presence alone promotes a positive culture and can counter feelings of shame that people might feel when dealing with mental health issues.

As well as our 24/7 MTC Fitness and Wellbeing Centre, we also have an internal health and wellbeing hub, which is a one-stop shop for a range of resources and employee benefits, including a 24/7 Virtual GP, private medical insurance and a range of wellbeing tools. To enhance the hub’s on-demand health and wellbeing library, we worked with performance psychologists at Cognacity to deliver webinars and talks on topics such as sleep, resilience and health and nutrition.

Opening up

For many, 2022 was a year of recovery from a tumultuous time. In our report, we talk about the unprecedented toll the pandemic took on our collective health, but how it was also a time for bold steps, with more people speaking publicly about how they handled seismic changes. A powerful example of this was the recorded conversation between four McLaren Racing engineers as they reflected on their experiences of hotel quarantine in Australia in 2020. 

Lando Norris’s blog about his own mental health journey also sent a clear message to younger audiences that drive, competition and fearlessness can go hand-in-hand with authenticity and vulnerability, and in 2021 we extended our partnership with Mind to raise awareness of mental health and support, raising £435,000 through fundraising initiatives included a helmet auction, our Stream for Mind gaming tournament and raffle, and a competition to win t-shirts designed by our F1 drivers. 


Charitable fundraising in the community 

“Our objective is to positively impact the communities where we work and race through charitable initiatives, fundraising and volunteering.”

Our fundraising and community initiatives continue to drive our social impact, and over 2021 we worked to raise money and awareness for important causes. On a local level, this included the Change a Life Challenge with White Lodge and a sponsored nature trail for Woking and Sam Beare Hospice. Nationally we also took part again in the Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge for BBC Children in Need, for which our engineers designed a rickshaw that enabled five inspirational young people to each cycle a leg of a 150-mile route, raising funds for 2,500 local projects in communities across the UK. 

Looking ahead

A clear theme throughout our sustainability report is data, and it’s vital that we measure and report on results where possible. This not only helps us improve, but gives context to our strategies and shows how we’re contributing to a global mission. This is why we’re finding ways to validate and benchmark our health and wellbeing offering through accreditation or an external accredited reporting framework, and we have committed to Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index.

Our health and wellbeing roadmaps have a strong focus on internal communications and resources that promote organisation-wide health and wellbeing, but we have to recognise the unique demands placed on our race team, especially as our F1 race calendar grows. We’re continuing to look at how to support optimal health and performance through tailored coaching as well as trialling new technologies that can also give us insights and data that inform our strategy.

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