The business of wellbeing

There’s no doubt about it: the corporate climate is changing toward employee wellbeing.

Slowly but surely, companies are realising that there’s more to management than ‘command, control and pay’. These days, if they want to keep their staff, they’ll need to listen, value and praise, almost like a surrogate family. ‘The soft stuff is the new hard stuff,’ writes Fleur Britten of this changing business model.

Companies express this care in different ways. The fitness brand Lululemon gives all its employees a £350 personal development course which they believe helps them in their personal and professional lives. While the CEO of Thomas Cook Harriet Green, recently quoted Maya Angelou when talking about her approach to business: ‘I’ve learned that people forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ Harriet has turned the company around after its troubles in 2011.

These are startling times indeed: companies who actually care how employees feel? This is a long way from Charles Dickens’ notorious headmaster Mr Gradgrind, who was interested only in pounds, shillings and pence. And while some company bosses follow this enlightened path because they simply believe it’s the right thing to do; others claim it also increases productivity and profit.

‘Empathy drives profit,’ says the author Belinda Parmar. ‘The corporate world is in need of rehabilitation. Most business cultures are hierarchical and based on fear. They miss out on revenue because they think there isn’t time to care.’

Laura Morgan makes the same connection. She’s Group Manager of Training and Development at the MRL Consulting Group with whom The Mind Clinic has worked for eighteen months. ‘We work within a highly competitive sales environment,’ she says ‘and for us, it’s essential that we give our employees an opportunity to address issues which may be affecting them, personally or professionally, with a neutral person. By working with The Mind Clinic, we feel that our employees have an environment where they can speak openly, honestly and in total confidence about whatever they need to and because of this, we get a happier, healthier workforce.’

And our nation’s entrepreneurs appear to be joining in. Two hundred of them recently attended a session on ‘Stress in the Workplace’ led by The Mind Clinic MD Simon Parke and Lead Practioner Mark Godson at the Cranfield Business School. The Q&A revealed there’s much more to running a business than just profit margins for today’s business makers. As one of them said, ‘Just to be able to talk about it feels healing.’

Tiffany Gaskell, director of coaching at Performance Consultants, agrees. She says ‘We’re not encouraged to be human in the work place, but when we finally get in touch with ourselves, it’s such a relief to be actually who we are. It’s like finding the truth of ourselves for the first time.’

It’s a seismic shift in corporate thinking with some recommending that companies learn from good parenting models. They say that shouting at your employees may work in the short term, but with the way attitudes are changing, this won’t work for long. ‘Anyone who doubts the validity of this,’ says leadership coach Russell Amerasekera, ‘go home and shout at your teenagers and see how that works.’

Mindfulness is one approach to emotional well-being and a significant feature of the quiet revolution described above. The Mind Clinic offers mindfulness groups in companies, as well as one-to-one sessions. If you’d like to know more about mindfulness, see Cranfield Business School’s take on the subject.

If you’d like to talk more about ways The Mind Clinic might help develop emotional support in your company or school, contact info@themindclinic.org