There’s something about Chris Pinner, the dynamic Founder of workplace wellbeing consultancy and training provider Innerfit. He has a kind of infectious energy. He genuinely wants to help.
The desire to understand how employers need help when it comes to supporting workplace wellbeing is making Chris stand out. In a crowded market place, where employers are finding it hard to navigate their way through a maze of solution providers, understanding their needs is crucial.
In this interview, Chris shares insights into research he has conducted with employers to get a real sense of their pain points, his experience of employers’ biggest mistakes as well as what’s working when it comes to supporting workplace wellbeing.
What challenges are employers facing right now?
Of the seven key insights that Chris’ research with employers has uncovered, these are the top three: knowing where to start; getting leadership buy-in; being brave.
Wellbeing leaders are under pressure themselves
COVID-19 has changed wellbeing drastically. It’s made it more important than ever but also more difficult. Wellbeing leaders are under a lot of pressure to find solutions that are quick, easy and impactful. But it’s hard to make sense of the masses of information available. It’s particularly difficult for wellbeing leaders to look after others when they might not be feeling great themselves.
Chris’ research also highlighted the time pressures many are dealing with. He said: “People have been busy with furlough or restructuring and managing the return to work process. If you’re in HR and your remit includes wellbeing as a 10% extra on top of your job, it’s likely to get squeezed out. That’s why I’m a huge advocate for every company having a Head of Wellbeing”.
It’s more important than ever to make the business case for wellbeing
When you talk about mental health and wellbeing all day every day, it’s easy to believe that there has been a wholesale shift from employers believing wellbeing is a ‘nice to have” to it being a ‘must have’ for their organisation. Chris points out however: “In our bubble it’s easy to convince ourselves that every employer has bought into wellbeing, but the reality is that there are still many that haven’t”.
Employers Chris is speaking with are finding it hard to get leadership buy-in when budgets are limited for many companies. Chris believes that it’s therefore becoming more important than ever to build the business case for wellbeing. In order to do this, it is essential to assess needs and be able to measure impact. He says: “If you don’t measure impact, wellbeing programmes are unlikely to be effective or sustainable. If you’re not measuring the impact of wellbeing, then how are you going to allocate resources effectively?”
Wellbeing leaders need to be brave and decisive through uncertainty
Chris says: “When there is so much uncertainty, as a leader, the best thing that you can do is be bold”. He believes that to be brave, a wellbeing leader would set out the calendar for the next three to six months, with a clear wellbeing vision. He explains that the key is to not hold back as employees will really benefit from having something to look forward to and cling on to when nobody really knows what’s going on.
Some of the biggest mistakes that employers are making when it comes to wellbeing
From an HR and wellbeing leader’s perspective, Chris believes that the worst thing they can do is forget to put themselves in the shoes of employees. He explains that the danger of just looking at statistics and pulse poll results is that you forget the individual that sits behind the data.
For instance, an employer might think that it is OK that a survey shows 50% of their colleagues are feeling ready to come back to the workplace. He says: “Is OK good enough? If you want to run an OK company then I suppose that is good enough. But if you’d rather have people feeling well, working well, feeling incredible and working incredibly, then work needs to be done”.
Another mistake is employers being reactive rather than proactive. Chris says: “Right now, I guarantee there is a bunch of people in the UK that are sitting there feeling disconnected, scared of losing their job and on the brink of burnout. But they don’t feel comfortable telling anybody as it might raise concerns about their performance”. If employers recognise this, they can start to put measures in place that will proactively support wellbeing before problems escalate.
The other big mistake that employers are making is thinking short-term rather than planning ahead. Chris says: “Wellbeing leaders want programmes that are quick, easy and impactful. The thing is that wellbeing isn’t something you can quickly turn around unless it is part of a longer-term plan and impact is measured.
Which solutions are working?
Chris is finding that solutions that are really working at the moment are those that bring people together to have a conversation about wellbeing. He says: “Remote working looks like it’s going to be around for a while, so if we can find a way to help solve each other’s problems, that’s a really powerful way of achieving a lot with minimum investment”.
He explains: “The emphasis in our workshops is not to teach people. Our job is to help them make a positive change. You do that by inviting them to choose what they want to do themselves. Very often it’s about helping them to identify small changes that they can make”. So many employers fail to get engagement with wellbeing programmes right. To boost engagement Chris says it’s all about the “what” and the “how”. You have to make sure that what you are delivering is relevant to people and then it has to be delivered in an engaging way.
Chris is working internationally with several of his clients. He explains that, when it comes to supporting wellbeing in different cultures, it’s important to be sensitive to the fact that the conversation might be at a different stage, depending on which country you are in. Talking to people in Latin America about mental wellbeing is quite different to talking to people in London.
Having said that, he has seen similar patterns emerge. He explains: “Wherever people are, they want to feel connected to others in a similar position to them. You have to be sensitive to local differences but essentially we are all sharing a global pandemic experience.”
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 “Leading wellbeing through uncertainty”. 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