What are the burning issues keeping Wellbeing leaders up at night?


It’s always helpful to see into the minds of others doing your job to know what is preoccupying their thoughts, to see if it’s the same for you… so that’s why, ahead of MAD World on 12th October, we asked some leading wellbeing professionals to spill the beans on the biggest challenges they are facing, the kind that keep them up at night, as well as what they are most looking forward to learning at the event.

A consistent theme you’ll see throughout their responses is the power of meeting like-minded professionals.

Here’s what they said.

Claire Burgess, Head of Health & Wellbeing, and MHFA Programme Lead, Unipart

I want to know what’s next in the world of work, what could further impact our wellbeing and how we can stay one step ahead of it. What’s the latest data telling us, how do we evolve as Wellbeing practitioners both personally and professionally?

For me, I look forward to these events [like the MAD World Summit] as it’s incredible to be part of a collective of like-minded people who agree on priorities and are on the same page about the impact work has on us as humans. There are so many sessions I am looking forward to, all of which embrace being human and focus on how we can make the workplace work for us!

Fiona McAslan, Head of Health and Wellbeing, Royal Mail

In terms of my biggest challenge that’s just the volume of things we need to do. We’re a small team of three for 135,000 employees. There’s only so much we can do even though, in the wellbeing space, the more people love what you’re doing, the more they want…

Priortisation is key. Mental health is our number one priority, and that’s what we’re focusing on, but underneath this, I’ve got a list as long as my arm of things that we need to tackle as well!

I’m a huge advocate of MAD World. What I look forward to every year is that innovative future-looking thinking. It’s always one step ahead.

Daniel Chan, Global Workplace & Wellbeing Lead at dentsu

Key topics for me I want to hear insight about are:

  • How evidence-based practices surrounding wellbeing have been implemented and with user case studies
  • Data and insights on key wellbeing areas
  • New thought leadership approaches

MAD world is a great event, not only to hear from experts and peers in the wellbeing space, but also to network and be around people who are like minded.

I particularly like how it is broken into topic areas and looking forward to hearing some discussions around strategy and joining in some of the roundtables, where we can openly discuss important areas on the wellbeing agenda.

Ruth Pott, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at BAM UK & Ireland

One area I’m particularly interested in learning more about is changing behaviour in terms of getting our people to look after their health, move more, eat better etc.

In respect of what I’m most looking forward to at MAD world, I am always horizon-scanning, looking for the next “big thing” in wellbeing so I can be at the forefront of current thinking, with special focus upon prevention and behaviour change.

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Claire Parker, Senior Programme Lead, Health and Wellbeing Team, NHS England

For me the biggest challenge is thinking about these questions, and how they interlink: what is our longer term picture? What do we need to achieve? And how do we hope to do this, and what do our workforce need, are there gaps in the support we offer and how can we address this?

Once we have looked at both questions and considered ways in which we can address these, it is important to build in a process of evaluation so that we can measure progress, learn lessons and see how we can measure the impact.

For example, a question that I’m always asking myself is: are our initiatives supporting our colleagues in the way in which we intended, and are we seeing any longer term culture changes?

Ben Strangwood, Wellbeing Advisor, RSPCA

One of the talks I’m most interested in at MAD World this year is the panel discussion on measurement of workplace wellbeing and using data to elevate your strategy; it will be interesting to hear what sort of data they discuss to measure wellbeing.

The main thing I want to know about employee wellbeing is from colleagues themselves. From them I want to know: what are the issues affecting your wellbeing at work?

It’s only when you have that information can you put together an informed approach to try and improve it and make a difference. 

Martin Power, Employee Health and Wellbeing Manager at KP Snacks

The most important thing any wellbeing leader should want is good quality data or analytics on their colleagues/employees. Whether this is absence trends, ill health data, financial wellbeing or direct colleague/employee feedback on current rewards so you can target focus areas on what will really make a difference to colleague/employee wellbeing. This is what I’m constantly thinking about.

Cathryn Gunther, Global Head of Associate Wellbeing, Mars

Mental health is a critical issue across the globe, including for many of our associates. Our strategy is to take a population health-based approach and focus on prevention, protection, and provision (aligned with the WHO framework).

A challenge is ensuring that associates feel safe and supported when discussing their mental health, they can access the resources they need when they need them, and that we have a culture that enables everyone to reach their full potential is a priority for me and my team.

Christian Gallagher, Head of Human Resources at The Royal Ballet School

I am not unfortunately going to MAD World, but I wish I was! The line-up looks really good. As an HR Leader, I most want to know what actions I can take to help employees prioritise their own wellbeing and give them the space and time to be able to fit these actions into their hectic schedules.

Come and join us at the MAD World Summit on 12th October, along with an an impressive roster of speakers from Age UK, BAM UK&I, BBC, Belron, BITC, Britvic, Costain, Deloitte, Dentsu, EY, Goldman Sachs, Heath Foundation, Heathrow, HSBC, IBM, Ipsos, Mars, Metro Bank, Microsoft, Mind, National Grid, Novartis, Unipart, Royal Bank of Scotland, Starbucks and many more

If you haven’t booked your tickets yet, don’t miss out. You can find full details and book here.

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