Chris Pinner, Founder of Innerfit: Highlights from Conversations with 10 Leaders in Employee Wellbeing

innerfit MAD article

The pandemic has impacted how we work forever. In September, Employee Wellbeing service provider Innerfit spoke with 10 leaders tasked with driving the employee agenda right now. In this interview, Innerfit Founder Chris Pinner shares the highlights from their conversations and shows that it is possible to turn challenge into opportunity.

Reactive; Not Proactive

“Most organisations are hesitant and playing catch-up. They are being reactive rather than proactive”, says Innerfit Founder, Chris Pinner. Understandably, most organisations are struggling to get on the front foot right now.

Speaking with leaders across a mix of industries and company sizes, from 400 employees in Marketing to over 5,000 in Manufacturing, Chris and his team realised that very few are looking beyond the coming month. But a few are managing to turn adversity into advantage, answering the tough questions and shaping the future of working well.

Employee Challenges = Business Challenges

Chris explains, “most leaders believe wellbeing and performance are linked but have not yet proven it in their own organisation”. There is no shortage of statistics demonstrating that employee wellbeing is linked to business success, or that employees are struggling right now:

  • Poor mental health alone costs an average of £3,250 in some industries (Deloitte 2020).
  • In the UK, 43% and 38% of employees’ mental and physical health worsened since the outbreak, respectively (CIPD May 2020)
  • 96% of employers see a correlation between wellbeing & performance (Aon Benefits and Trends Survey, 2019).

“The problem is that very few are able to put a number on it as relates to their own business, making it tough to be strategic with where to allocate (often limited) wellbeing budget” says Chris.

He continues, “we’ve seen so many Pulse Surveys go out, all asking good questions. But it’s not always clear how they actually inform decisions, and very few companies are proving any tangible return on investment from wellbeing”.

“Right now, leaders and employees are struggling to work well. They are surviving; not thriving. The bottom line is that absenteeism, presenteeism, staff retention and recruitment, and lost productivity are all costing businesses right now. Most leaders know that but cannot put a number on it”.

Top 7 Employee Wellbeing Challenges Right Now

Chris’ team found that many employees are struggling with one or more of 7 challenges right now:

  1. Leadership – Leaders do not prioritise wellbeing, or at least feel frustrated and unsure where to start
  2. Mental Wellbeing – Stress, anxiety, and more are prevalent and few people are equipped to cope, let alone thrive. Many are feeling sluggish or are struggling with mental health
  3. Motivation and Energy – Low motivation and energy levels across the team, feeling demotivated and lacking direction
  4. Team Connection – Weak relationships between teammates, feeling disconnected, isolated and forgotten
  5. Engagement – Low engagement in wellbeing sessions, feeling unhappy, unhealthy & disengaged
  6. Physical Wellbeing – Poor physical wellbeing, with most feeling inactive or not set up effectively to work remotely
  7. Focus and Performance – Low productivity and lack of clarity and focus day-to-day, feeling sub-optimal and out-of-focus

In the face of so many challenges, it can be hard to know where to start. But, as Chris explains, “some leaders were very deliberate about where they are focusing right now, augmenting old wellbeing strategies and focusing on leadership, for example, to unlock progress in other areas”.

“Some businesses have found that remote working can reduce costs and increase productivity. Some employees enjoy having more flexibility in where, when and how they work. Some Wellbeing Leaders are getting on the front foot”.

Shape the Future of Working Well

“Reflecting on our conversations, we’ve realised the value of asking more future-focused questions”, says Chris.

  • What do you want the future to look like?
  • What does ‘great’ look like in the next 3, 6 & 12 months?
  • Where will you be at the end of 2020 if you do not take action?
  • What action will you take right now to help your people thrive (not just survive)?

“Answer these questions and you are one step closer to shaping the future; not being shaped by it. Give people certainty and confidence in the direction of travel. Communicate the future to employees. Retain and build a sense of community through wellbeing”.

Where to Start?

“Start small. Shrink the change” says Chris.

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Chris continues, “now is not the time for building a fluffy wellbeing strategy that is never looked at again. Define what you want the future to look like and define the support you want to offer in the run up to Christmas. Start with quick, easy and impactful solutions which help employees right now, but always keep an eye on the end-goal”.

“Most companies have more information on the wellbeing of their employees than ever. The question is how to use it. Focus on addressing what they really need (most likely, one of the 7 challenges above), lead from the front and shape the future”.

A call to action

Chris will be joining us as a speaker at the digital MAD World Summit on 8 October, along with wellbeing leaders from Discovery Channel, for the free to attend workshop at 10.00am entitled “How to Lead, Motivate & Energise Your Team”. Register here to secure your place.

Many of the points Chris raises will also be addressed across the digital MAD World Summit – the global go-to digital event for employers who want to Make A Difference to workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing – taking place 8 October. We are also running Make a Difference Summit US in Association with Mind Share Partners on 15 October and Make a Difference Summit Asia on 11 November, 2020. Pick and choose the content most relevant to you or attend all the digital events with our Global Pass. You can find out more and register here.

About the author

Claire Farrow is the Global Director of Content and Programming for the Mad World and Make a Difference Summits. She also drives the content for Make A Difference News. Claire is on a mission to help every employer – large, medium and small – get the insight, inspiration and contacts they need to make real impact on workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing in their organisation. She has been freelance for more than 15 years. During that time, she has had the honour of working with many leading publishers, including the New York Times


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