PODCAST

That Wellbeing @ Work Show

Chris Taylor

Join us, That Wellbeing @ Work Show, as we discuss the explosion of the employee wellbeing industry which has taken place in the last three years. Employee wellbeing no longer means having a healthy option in the canteen, a subsidy at the local gym and a cycle to work tax-break. Mental health, work life balance, flexible working and the 4 day week have all shot up the agenda. But like any area that has grown so quickly, wellbeing often lacks science; is subject to faddery; taken over by jargon; isn’t measured properly; is over-complicated; and the employee ends up getting bombarded with a lot of stuff that they don’t want and isn’t used. Yet wellbeing is important, and it stands to reason that people who are happy and healthy will have better lives at home and perform better in the workplace. Or does it?At buddyboost, we believe that it is true. That’s why we’ve sponsored That Wellbeing @ Work Show. We’re bringing together HR professionals, wellbeing experts and CEO’s and asking the tough questions on how and what we should be doing for our people, what we’ve got right and what we can learn from after all the role of our personnel departments have changed dramatically have our thought processes kept up?

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Being Kind Is Not Being Soft
Jun 22 2022
Being Kind Is Not Being Soft
In the first season of That Wellbeing @ Work Show we’ve heard from some of the world’s leading experts in the employee wellbeing space.  So I thought it was time to hear from an organisation whose commitment to creating a happy, inclusive, caring and high-performing culture is lived and breathed from bottom to top! Janet Leighton is the superbly titled Director of Happiness at the Timpson Group one of the UK and Ireland’s leading retailers with over 2000 stores and 5000 colleagues. This is a fascinating insight into a business who really do put the wellbeing of their employees front and centre yet at the same time instil a high-performance culture that delivers bottom line success.A very diverse workforce [2:36]The Timpson Group are one of the largest employers of ex-offenders.  Janet explains that although employing people with a previously troubled background does sometimes come with challenges, the rewards of helping people to turn their lives around is extremely valuable.Communication is the foundation of our culture [3:34]Timpson prides itself on having a listing and open communication culture.  Employees are encouraged to share their feelings, emotions and issues.  As Janet explains, the firm may not always be able to solver employee's issues but they will always listen.Autonomy is key to wellbeing and engagement [5:18]Janet explains the latitude that employees are given such as setting store opening times and determining prices.  This she argues leads to greater employee engagement and allows the employee to flourish.Technology to support wellbeing [6:44]Janet reveals that technology in terms of a branch dashboard is used to 'take the temperature' of how employees are feeling.  Scores (particularly low ones) are fed back to regional management who contact the individual to try and resolve any issues.  As Janet explains the issues often relate to a problems in an individual's personal life that the firm is always happen to help with.The importance of financial wellbeing [8:10]Timpson have a substantial wellbeing fund deployed to help employees in financial distress and how important this has become because of the cost of living crisis. Janet explains that supporting employees financially is a win for the firm as happier employees feed directly to the bottom line.Being kind isn't being softFew organisations display the level of kindness to their employees to the same degree as Timpson. Janet argues that kindness is being soft. Timpson expect great things from their employees and kindness is the best motivator.What makes an attractive employer? [12:09]Flexibility is key says Janet.  The pandemic has led many employees to re-evaluate their priorities and employers that offer flexibility and autonomy will attract better talent.Timpson's wellbeing initiatives [13:36]Janet outlines some of the firms other wellbeing initiatives such as time away for the death of a pet or an additional day off for a child's first day at school or nursery.Wellbeing starts at the interview [19:14]Janet explains that their focus on wellbeing and culture begins at the interview by carefully outlining the values of the business and stressing the importance of the behaviours they expect and what the employee can expect in return.The Timpson University [21:43]Janet reveals that the company have created a dedicated learning facility whereby colleagues from across the business are encouraged to undertake 13 months of learning in Timpson's philosophy of 'Upside Down Management'.Resources
Being Kind Is Not Being Soft
Jun 22 2022
Being Kind Is Not Being Soft
In the first season of That Wellbeing @ Work Show we’ve heard from some of the world’s leading experts in the employee wellbeing space.  So I thought it was time to hear from an organisation whose commitment to creating a happy, inclusive, caring and high-performing culture is lived and breathed from bottom to top! Janet Leighton is the superbly titled Director of Happiness at the Timpson Group one of the UK and Ireland’s leading retailers with over 2000 stores and 5000 colleagues. This is a fascinating insight into a business who really do put the wellbeing of their employees front and centre yet at the same time instil a high-performance culture that delivers bottom line success.A very diverse workforce [2:36]The Timpson Group are one of the largest employers of ex-offenders.  Janet explains that although employing people with a previously troubled background does sometimes come with challenges, the rewards of helping people to turn their lives around is extremely valuable.Communication is the foundation of our culture [3:34]Timpson prides itself on having a listing and open communication culture.  Employees are encouraged to share their feelings, emotions and issues.  As Janet explains, the firm may not always be able to solver employee's issues but they will always listen.Autonomy is key to wellbeing and engagement [5:18]Janet explains the latitude that employees are given such as setting store opening times and determining prices.  This she argues leads to greater employee engagement and allows the employee to flourish.Technology to support wellbeing [6:44]Janet reveals that technology in terms of a branch dashboard is used to 'take the temperature' of how employees are feeling.  Scores (particularly low ones) are fed back to regional management who contact the individual to try and resolve any issues.  As Janet explains the issues often relate to a problems in an individual's personal life that the firm is always happen to help with.The importance of financial wellbeing [8:10]Timpson have a substantial wellbeing fund deployed to help employees in financial distress and how important this has become because of the cost of living crisis. Janet explains that supporting employees financially is a win for the firm as happier employees feed directly to the bottom line.Being kind isn't being softFew organisations display the level of kindness to their employees to the same degree as Timpson. Janet argues that kindness is being soft. Timpson expect great things from their employees and kindness is the best motivator.What makes an attractive employer? [12:09]Flexibility is key says Janet.  The pandemic has led many employees to re-evaluate their priorities and employers that offer flexibility and autonomy will attract better talent.Timpson's wellbeing initiatives [13:36]Janet outlines some of the firms other wellbeing initiatives such as time away for the death of a pet or an additional day off for a child's first day at school or nursery.Wellbeing starts at the interview [19:14]Janet explains that their focus on wellbeing and culture begins at the interview by carefully outlining the values of the business and stressing the importance of the behaviours they expect and what the employee can expect in return.The Timpson University [21:43]Janet reveals that the company have created a dedicated learning facility whereby colleagues from across the business are encouraged to undertake 13 months of learning in Timpson's philosophy of 'Upside Down Management'.Resources
Wellbeing is not about bean bags!
May 5 2022
Wellbeing is not about bean bags!
Welcome to that Wellbeing @ Work ShowThe world of work has never been so volatile, uncertain and complex.  Seismic changes and trends that would normally take decades to emerge have followed one after the other; Brexit, pandemic, the great resignation, war in Ukraine, the cost of living crisis.   The scale of the changes are bewildering to employers and employees.  To make sense of where we find ourselves and offering both encouragement and warning in equal measure is the world’s preeminent authority on organisational culture and employee wellbeing. Professor Sir Cary Cooper CBE is the 50th Anniversary Professor of Psychology at Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester.  He is a founding President of the British Academy of Management and Immediate Past President of the CIPD. Among his many achievements, Professor Cooper is currently the Chair of the National Forum for Health & Wellbeing at Work and is the author/editor of over 250 books in the field of occupational health psychology, workplace wellbeing  and occupational stress.   I don’t like my boss [02:13] Professor Cooper remarks that a significant driver of the so called ‘great resignation’ was in part employee’s dissatisfaction with their boss.  He think this has led some in HR about whether they have right managers or managers with the right skills in place. Sadly he feels too many organisations recruit solely on technical skills and not soft skills or EQ.What do we do about Millennials and GenZ workers? [04:03 Professor Cooper believes this generation of workers have a very different value set to their parents. Mis-characterised as ‘Snow Flakes’ Professor Cooper argues that this ‘generation’ don’t feel entitled; they're just not prepared to tolerate what their parents tolerated.. Hybrid working another way [7.14]What is HR’s obsession with numbers of days at home or spent in the office? Professor Cooper takes us back to the psychological contract and tells us to look at this in a different way. Ask the employee what works for them and together agree what’s going to work.  He says this isn’t a big conversation, so why have we made it one?A new deal for blue-collar workers? [09:09] Many of those in the ‘professional classes’ have enjoyed the ability to work flexibly but what about those jobs that cannot be done from home? Professor Cooper recommends that a new deal such as a 4 day week or a variation of is created to allow these workers some time off. Employee wellbeing is not about bean bags [13:26] Bean bags, sushi and ping pong is not employee wellbeing. Employee wellbeing is a major strategic shift. Professor Cooper highlights the NHS where every trust now has an non-executive director responsible for health and wellbeing. At [14:25], Professor Cooper argues for an NED responsible for health and wellbeing appointed to the board of every UK company whatever their size. The difference between pressure and stress [18:45] Pressure motivates and stress makes you ill is the simple answer and is witnessed by behaviour change. Why don’t business schools teach soft skills? [23:28] Business schools concentrate far too much on teaching technical skills such as the key theories in HR, marketing and accountancy but in the main ignore more experiential leaning that gets individuals to understand their personality and the effect they have on others. Recruiting on the wrong skills [26:03] Attending a top business school isn’t a guarantee an individual is going to be any good at managing others. Organisations need to look beyond the technical skills and assess instead an individual’s interpersonal or soft skills. Resources
The 4 Day Week - 100% Of The Output For 80% Of The Time
May 5 2022
The 4 Day Week - 100% Of The Output For 80% Of The Time
In this episode of That Wellbeing @ Work Show, I take a closer look at an innovative employment model that’s growing in popularity around the world.  The 4 Day Week is a reduced-hour working model, which seeks to prioritise working smarter to produce better business productivity and positive employee outcomes such as employee retention, engagement and reduced absence levels - wellbeing in a nutshell! Joining me to discuss this growing work-trend is Charlotte Lockhart, co-founder of 4 Day Week Global – a not-for-profit community for those individuals and organisations keen to explore new ways of working. Charlotte herself is a business advocate, investor and philanthropist. She’s on the board of the  Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford University and the advisory boards of the US and Irish campaigns for the 4 Day Week.How does the 4 Day Week Work? [01:15]Charlotte explains the principle behind the 4 Day Week. Workers are paid 100% of their wages for only working 80% of the time whilst providing 100% productivity. The idea is to reduce the amount of work time by focusing on productivity. After all if productivity is maintained why should pay be reduced? How do businesses boost productivity? [02:11]Boosting productivity is notoriously difficult. Charlotte explains that within a business environment, the answers are found in the micro-environment; for example how many widgets are produced, how many meetings are called but most importantly work with your employees as they will help you identify time-saving efficiencies. Are some employees resistant to change? [07:11]Charlotte explains that there are always employees who confuse productivity with being ‘busy’ but as she says “busy is not productive” and working 80 hours a week is not a badge of honour. She goes on to explain that millennials and the generations that follow view work in a different way and don’t want to work the hours their parents did. Can the 4 Day Week work across all sectors? [20:00]Yes is the simple answer.  Charlotte gives an example of a bus company in New Zealand where one of the routes operated attracts very few passengers but is convenient for the company to use.  Her argument is that if you talk to your workers and your customers efficiencies can be found that won’t affect the level of service. At [23:01], Charlotte further explains that it’s dangerous to assume that no sector couldn’t benefit from revieing the way work is structured or organised. Meetings are the enemy of productivity [24:21]‘No Agenda No Attender’ is the mantra Charlotte quotes when it comes to meetings.  She explains the changes she made at her own firm to reduce time spent on these fruitless interactions. She further illustrates how people eating lunch at their desk and the use of open plan offices has a detrimental effect on individual productivity.Resources:
Wellbeing Isn't An Off The Shelf Product
Apr 12 2022
Wellbeing Isn't An Off The Shelf Product
Welcome to that Wellbeing @ Work Show. This week I wanted to look at how organizations instil soft skills behaviour change that actually sticks. Traditional methods of learning such as classroom based learning we know has really limited long-term impact on the way that people behave. Dr. Alex Young is a former trauma and orthopaedic surgeon and the founder of Virti. Virti is a cutting edge technology learning business that uses tech like augmented reality to greatly improve employee engagement and EQ by focusing on human skills, such as empathy. Skills such as empathy we know are so important in creating a well-being culture. Dr. Alex begins the interview by explaining his journey. What was the problem you were trying to fix? [02:56]Dr Alex reveals that during his time as an NHS surgeon he observed many colleagues who were technically very gifted but lacked what he describes as soft skills including leadership, decision making and communication abilities.  It was this lack of embedded soft skills training that often led to conflict or complaints affecting both the wellbeing of the individual and those around them. The explosion in wellbeing apps [05:13]Dr Alex argues that organisations that select off-the-shelf wellbeing apps for employees are probably wasting their money. He encourages leaders and HR managers to get to know their colleagues better and help design wellbeing interventions best tailored to that individual. Does the corporate wellbeing market need regulation? [07:42]Some national healthcare systems such as the NHS in the UK do have their own recommended ‘app store’ whereby some wellbeing apps have been reviewed by medial professionals.  However, the situation is patchy and therefore the corporate wellbeing market does probably need regulation. The line manager / worker relationship [09.09]The thread that runs through much of how we feel about work is the relationship we have with our line manager. Dr Alex agrees and suggests that the pandemic has really had a negative effect on this relationship given many of the interactions have been remote. The advantages of using augmented reality in learning [13.03]Dr Alex explains why technology such as augmented reality is so effective in delivering soft skills training when compared to more traditional methods of learning and some of the conversations he has with clients of his firm Virti. Why do we have such an issue with soft skills in the UK? [14.48]According to Dr Alex, the UK is not alone with having a workforce lacking soft sills such as empathy, communication and leadership.  He suggests that part of this lack of skill can be attributed to the education system that is generally focused on exam results and the social class in which you are born. Are soft skills power skills or something else? [18:20]Dr Alex gives an amusing response to this question and laughs at some of the PR fluff attached to the descriptions. Should leaders reveal vulnerability?Yes is the simple answer. Dr Alex argues that the paternalistic and militaristic view of leadership whereby leaders and managers didn’t share their vulnerabilities is drawing to a close and there is a strength in sharing problems with your team.Resources
Wellbeing is great but we don't want you working less hard!
Apr 6 2022
Wellbeing is great but we don't want you working less hard!
In this episode of That Wellbeing @ Work Show, host Chris Taylor talks to author, speaker, and former ad agency CEO Nigel Marsh whose Ted Talk on ‘Work-Life’ balance remains one of the platforms most popular talks.  In an uncompromising and sometimes explicit interview, Nigel argues it’s up to the individual to set boundaries on work and it’s moronic to think organisations are going to do this for you.Has the pandemic made the work-life balance more achievable?01:22Nigel recorded his Ted Talk in 2010 and argues that the pandemic will have little impact on work-life balance as human drivers remain the same.Who has responsibility for work-life balance?05:37The economist John Maynard Keynes during a speech in Madrid in 1930 that by 2030 and because of technology, humans would have ‘oceans’ of free time.  Yes the tech has freed up more time but we have filled this time by doing more work. All we have done is used the advantage to work even harder.Abatoirs of the Human Soul08:59Nigel argues that many organisations are not genuinely interested in wellbeing and ‘it’s all a trick.’ Yes the firm might have policies in place that on the surface seem like they care but you’d need to be a workaholic to just meet the targets.Enable, Model and Nudge12:01Nigel explains how organisations who are genuinely interested in the wellbeing of their employees should act.Category Norms19:20Nigel explains why in some jobs and sectors it’s impossible and frankly arrogant for an employee to insist upon work-life balance.  You just need to suck it up!People, Product, Profit?22:33The truth is that if you want to be a more profitable business, then people have to come last and the so called experts who tell you something else are lying!Resources:
Who cares about workplace wellbeing?
Mar 21 2022
Who cares about workplace wellbeing?
In this episode of That Wellbeing @ Work Show, host Chris Taylor talks to author, speaker, psychologist Gethin Nadin.  Gethin is one of the world’s top Employee Experience and Wellbeing Influencers.  Gethin’ work has been featured in the FT, Forbes, Guardian and The Huffington Post. Gethin is also Chair of the UK Government-backed Engage for Success Wellbeing Thought Action Group and a fellow at the RSA.How many pillars of wellbeing are there?[01:09]Gethin says a lot of organisations struggle with this but he believes s that there are broadly 5 pillars of wellbeing and these are:1.     Physical wellbeing2.     Financial wellbeing3.     Emotional wellbeing4.     Community wellbeing5.     Leisure wellbeingGethin recommends that organisations think about wellbeing in these five broad terms and to move away from ‘buying’ off the shelf wellbeing products where he believes many organisations get it wrong.Why should organisations be concerned about wellbeing?[03:12]Gethin argues that there is compelling evidence that organisations who commit to employee wellbeing benefit from increased profits and shareholder returns.  When an organisations is seen to care for its employees, employees perform better in terms of improved customer service, their productivity increases and they produce better outcomes.  Gethin states that employee wellbeing is an investment in people.How much of the wellbeing tech is evidenced based?[07:16]Gethin estimates that there are some 400,000 wellbeing apps available for download but warns that the majority of this technology is scientifically unproven despite some of the technology being recommended by healthcare organisations such as the NHS in the UK. Gethin goes on to warn that some of the available apps could actually cause harm by creating a sense of over-reliance and self-diagnosis by the individual.  So he cautions organisations against putting technology based solutions in front of employees that lack the necessary scientific rigour and evidence.What is Psychological Reactance?[11.46]Gethin explains the terms Psychological Reactance the term used to describe human behaviour when we’re told something that we feel threatens our freedom.  Gethin explains that messaging surrounding health and financial wellbeing often fail because organisations use ‘negative associations’ as opposed to ‘positive’ ones.  He gives an example of retirement planning where positive messages such as dining out and holidaying regularly once retired are much more successful in encouraging people to save than negative messages such as living in poverty.Employee Burnout and toxic work cultures[17:41]Gethin states that having work-based friends is effective in employees not feeling isolated or alone at work. Gethin argues that employee ‘burnout’ is most likely to be caused by poor organisational design and structure and quotes recent research to back up this claim.  A lack of autonomy, not feeling appreciated, a lack of direction and unrealistic deadlines all contribute to burnout.  Gethin asks for organisations and line managers in particular to look again at their interactions with employees to minimise stress and anxiety – preventions he argues is better than cure.Employees need a sense of belonging and community[25:30]Gethin stresses the importance of building effective workplace relationships that help to sustain you. Spending time with colleagues and getting to know them has been especially hard during the pandemic.  Gethin also predicts that offices will need to be turned into much more collaborati
How do you build a culture of wellbeing?
Mar 14 2022
How do you build a culture of wellbeing?
In this episode of That Wellbeing @ Work Show, host Chris Taylor talks to Stephen Bevan who is head of HR Research Development at the Institute for Employment Studies. Stephen has almost 40 years of experience in the field of HR research with highly sought after expertise in workforce wellbeing, performance, and productivity. Stephen has numerous publications on health at work to his name. And he was an expert witness to a review of NICE guidance on workplace mental health, which was published in March of this year. He has recently published a book with Professor Sir Cary Cooper, entitled The Healthy Workforce, Enhancing Wellbeing and Productivity In The Workers Of The Future.We’re measuring the wrong wellbeing outputs [03.20]Although lots of organisations have created a suite of wellbeing benefits such as healthy meals and subsidised gym memberships, most employers measure the wrong output.  Instead of measuring how many workers take-up the benefits, organisations instead to measure the impact these wellbeing interventions have on issues such as sickness and recovery time from illness.Interventions in isolation don’t work [07:08]Stephen argues that interventions such as mental health first aid whilst useful are often used in isolation and therefore have limited overall impact. Instead, employers need to look at more complex issues such as job design, the quality of line management and employee workload.  Without looking at these issues, you’ll end up back at square one!Isn’t a bit of stress good for performance? [09:11]Well up to a point. Stephen argues that those employees who have a certain amount of control and autonomy over their work will tend to cope better with stressful situations than those who have little or no control and essentially at the mercy of their line manager.How to create high-performance work practices [10:36]Research has shown that managers who trust employees and assist them by securing more people or other resources and provide clarity for the employee together with plenty of autonomy are more likely to create a happy and fulfilled workforce who will perform better. Stephen argues that stress is a very poor motivator of performance despite what some managers believe. So where should you start if you want to create a wellbeing culture? [15:23]Stephen starts by saying don’t rely on eye-catching interventions and instead look at systemic changes such overall culture, the quality of line management, job design and the demands placed upon people.  Stephen argues there is a golden triangle of wellbeing, performance and employee retention. Should HR be in charge of employee wellbeing? [20:42]To a point. The biggest influence is the line manager and therefore HR need to be supporting the line manager which in a hybrid working world is a challenge. Additionally Stephen cites Occupational Health professionals. However, Occupational Health is more than simply patching people up and sending them back to work, but instead looking at the ‘preventative’ measures such as alleviating workload pressures so that employees aren’t overwhelmed in the first instance.