Podcast episode 10: with Sam Fuller, building resilient organisationsAug 13, 2021
Welcome to this tenth episode of the Make Your Difference podcast! In this series, I am interviewing founders and leaders of different sized wellness and education businesses as well as specialist marketers who support them to help them make their difference.
A great follow up to the last episode on stress and resilience with Gavin Andrews, this latest episode is with Sam Fuller, founder of The Wellbeing Project. Sam's organisation supports organisations to put employee wellbeing at the centre of their strategy. This includes some very topical discussions around how lockdown has impacted employees differently and how to approach the next steps as we emerge into a "new normal".
Sam is the founder of The Wellbeing Project, an company that enables other organisations to support the wellbeing and resilience of their employees. Having developed their own model and psychometric tool, Sam works with business psychologists and wellbeing specialists to help organisations integrate wellbeing and resilience into how they do business.
Why put wellbeing at the heart of business?
Sam told us some reasons why having wellbeing at the centre of business is important. At its core, it's the human and business cost - the key objective is to keep people well. But when we don't put wellbeing at the heart of business, there is a considerable impact. Organisations often look for the impact and places like Deloitte and the Stevenson-Farmer report have provided evidence of an ROI.
What is WRAW?
The first of its kind, WRAW is The Wellbeing Project's very own psychometric resilience tool. It measures workplace resilience and wellbeing, providing a robust measurement. Also, it provides live tracking of the organisation's resilience as well as measuring individuals within the organisation. It can show where current strengths are within an organisation as well as identifying areas that can be supported.
Sam told us that this tool was created in order to have an evidence-based model to proactively support wellbeing - as opposed to organisations need to wait until an issue arose to provide support to their employees.
What organisations need to have in place to support employees' wellbeing and resilience
There are a number of areas that matter when it comes to organisations getting ready to support their employees' wellbeing and resilience, which Sam talked to us about:
- Having a clear strategy - to help people maintain their wellbeing and build on that (making sure it's not just a sticking plaster solution of adding fruit bowls and yoga classes but extends beyond that).
- Tailoring to your organisation - there isn't a "one size fits all" solution, so it's important to find a solution that's right for you
- Having measurement in place
- Training managers - enabling managers to identify issues even faced with the additional challenges of home-working and encouraging them to ask questions. Then helping managers to understand what to do when issues are noticed and after they've spoken to someone they are concerned about. Training managers to make sure there are clear boundaries around their role in this process is also key.
What can be missing when organisations seek to improve wellbeing
A lack of strategy and a lack of a clear budget are the most common challenges that Sam's organisation comes across. Another challenge is resilient, senior leaders feeling that improving wellbeing is not for them. On the flip side, organisations that do well are those with strong leadership support and clear internal communications in place.
How to get started with improving wellbeing at your organisation
After the experience of lockdown, there is currently a lot of talk of people leaving organisations. Especially where they are not treated well, or where they can't work in a way that supports their wellbeing, some people are making different choices. If you're keen to make a difference in your own organisation to help improve employee wellbeing and retain staff, Sam's suggestions include:
- Use internal feedback as the starting point - many organisations already have this. If not, run interviews or a survey, or use a tool like WRAW.
- Be flexible - Consider how to introduce the right resources in a way that reaches people - provide different ways and choices for individuals.
- Use your internal communications - explain why it matters and acknowledge what people have been through.
- Train the managers - this will create a ripple effect within their team.
- See it as a long term process - commit to long term change.
When evaluating external support with wellbeing and resilience at your organisation, Sam suggests that you look at how long the organisation you are considering has been running and who is giving their advice (does it come from psychologists, for example). Also, look at whether they are using scientifically validated models as part of their approach. Make sure to check their case studies and testimonials too.
How lockdown has impacted employee resilience and wellbeing
Sam's organisation has run research around the impact of lockdown on employee resilience and wellbeing. This has just been published. Some interesting findings include:
- Those higher up in organisations tend to have higher resilience.
- Energy levels were lowest in the 35-45 age groups, which is a risk since a lack of energy is related to burnout.
- Women had a greater drop in resilience
To learn more, please visit thewellbeingproject.co.uk
Sam also talked about the "hangover" that some of us are feeling now that things are returning to "normal". She mentioned that this is a result of us needing to keep going and manage all of the risks over the past months. People are now tired of coping. As we are starting to emerge and there is light at the end of the tunnel, concerns are ever-present. So don't worry if you are one of the ones who aren't feeling back to "normal" just yet. We have all been through a lot.
Tips to help us as we return to a new "normal" now that lockdown regulations have eased:
Now that things are changing, Sam has some suggestions for us all:
- She encourages us to give ourselves credit for everything we have all been through.
- Also, she suggests we should see this new phase as a fresh challenge and setting boundaries we are each comfortable with, that are manageable and realistic.
- She urges us to take it step by step and to talk to those around us about it.
- Also, she suggests we should be aware of how we are feeling and give ourselves time to re-calibrate.
Sam's thoughts on marketing
Sam shared some tips about what has supported the marketing of her organisation. These included:
- Delivering excellent service, so that you are doing a great job
- Sharing content with clients regularly. For Sam's organisation, this includes research and information based on science.
- Using LinkedIn
- Using digital marketing
- Being very specific when building communications
- Really know your clients and what they appreciate.
Sam recommends not trying to do everything. She also suggests that building her 5 pillar model was a key breakthrough for her, as it gave her a clear framework to talk and market around and also to build her expertise around in a focused way.
Sam encourages us all to find our anchor - the thing that holds it all together for us. Also, she urges us to make sure we give ourselves credit for everything we've all been through as a result of the pandemic.
How can you improve the wellbeing and resilience of employees where you work?
Episode 11, coming soon!
The Make Your Difference podcast is hosted by Vicky Mason. To find out more about her work with organisations:
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