February 20, 2023

6 takeaways from People Geekup 2023

February 20, 2023
Naomi Lucking

On 15th February 2023, we were thrilled to sponsor Culture Amp’s first People Geekup of 2023. Together we got geeky about People strategy and mental health at work.

We’ve shared our six key takeaways from the event that will help take your workplace wellbeing strategy to the next level in 2023.

Watch out IT — there are new geeks in the office.

1. To prove the impact of your wellbeing strategy, measure these eight things

People people are a caring bunch. They intrinsically understand the importance of wellbeing in the workplace.

But to get anywhere with your wellbeing strategy, you’ll need buy-in from senior leaders who might not necessarily see things your way. They need to know their investments are good value for money.

So how do you prove that all-important ROI? Daisy Abbott, Unmind’s Head of Client Solutions, explained:

“Data and measurement is always a top priority for leaders. But measuring mental health and wellbeing is hard. There are so many factors that contribute to a mentally healthy workplace.

“So we worked with a group of clinical and organisational psychologists to whittle it down to eight key factors that we can measure, and most importantly eight that we can do something about.

“They are: fulfilment, social wellbeing, manager support, senior leadership support, stress, psychological safety, mental health maturity and organisational support.

“Once we’ve got the figures, we can understand the impact of ill-mental health at work and what it’s costing the businesses. We can show how things change as a result of a wellbeing strategy, and make the case for more investment.”

2. Training managers to support their teams is vital…

Managers are key to any wellbeing strategy. But many of them don’t have the confidence or the knowledge they need to support their teams.

Our panellist Leonie Moreton, Managing Director at Coffee and TV, learned this the hard way:

“I chose People leaders I believed in and I had every faith in them so I gave them a lot of freedom. But in our survey we found out that they didn’t feel supported. They didn’t have the confidence in themselves to take our strategy forward, they needed more guidance.”

Managers can’t be expected to know it all. They need proper training.

But many managers are time-poor. So how can we get them up to speed in a way that doesn’t add too much to their existing workload? And how can we create training that is effective, and people will actually complete?

Daisy Abbott shared a story of success with client Entain:

“Entain shared our belief that training shouldn’t be long and cumbersome. It should be evergreen, easily scalable and available all of the time.

“They rolled out non-compulsory training to a group of 1,800 managers. 95% completed the course.”

3. ...but they can’t pour from an empty cup.

Managers play an important role. But they can’t be expected to take the world on their shoulders. They need support too.

Panellist Avelon Thompson, DEI Business Partner at EssenceMediacom, said:

“Managers need to start by focusing on their own mental health. No one can help other people if they’re not looking after themselves.”

Often the managers who are most engaged in wellbeing initiatives are those who have experienced mental ill-health themselves. So it’s vital that managers get the same personal support as the rest of the organisation, and aren’t only there to support others.

4. To make sure your whole organisation is supported, you need wellbeing champions

Leaders have to lead by example. Managers start wellbeing conversations with their teams. But there’s another key group of people who are critical to the success of your strategy: wellbeing champions.

Wellbeing champions are on the ground, in your stores, your offices, your distribution centres. They signpost to mental health services and make sure your messages are being heard at every level of the organisation.

Leonie Moreton explained:

“People expect a certain script from HR and leadership. It’s important that wellbeing champions are diverse and spread across an organisation, so everyone has someone on their level, in their team who speaks their language.”

But, like managers, wellbeing champions need clear boundaries in their role. Avelon Thompson said:

“Often these are people who have experience of mental ill-health themselves, that’s what motivates them to do it. So they’re not expected to be therapists or take everything on their shoulders. They signpost.”

5. The cost of living crisis makes workplace culture more important than ever

We all want to reward high performers. But with a recession looming, companies are tightening their belts.

Stephanie Kukoyi, Senior People Scientist at Culture Amp, said:

“Companies will start to experiment with what they can offer and looking for other ways to reward people besides financially. Things like flexibility will become a key benefit.”

When money is tight, good workplace culture becomes even more important in the battle to attract and retain talent.

Avelon Thompson shared her experience:

“Since we started talking about our wellbeing strategy publicly, we’ve attracted new talent. People have told us at interview they were interested in us because of our focus on wellbeing.”

6. Power may be shifting to employers, but it won’t last

It doesn’t feel like long ago that we were all talking about The Great Resignation. Now we’re seeing mass layoffs.

Stephanie Kukoyi shared her take:

“For a long time, it’s been an employee’s market. But as a recession looms, things are starting to change. Companies are being careful, vacancy numbers are reducing and with so much uncertainty, employees are more likely to play it safe and stay where they are.

“But we’re already seeing signs of a turning tide — inflation rises are beginning to slow. Power is shifting to employers but it won’t last long.”

It’s important that employers don’t get complacent. The tide always turns eventually, and top talent will always have their pick of the bunch.

Want to learn more? Read our 2023 Workplace Mental Health Trends report.