Catch up with Jen Christie...

I recently caught up with Jen Christie, who is a clinically trained wellbeing advisor and the founder of Rise Well, an employee wellbeing consultancy. Jen works with the likes of ASOS, Lidl and Leon Restaurants to build human-centric cultures to improve the health, happiness and performance of their employees. 

We discussed the challenges of the last 12 months when it comes to an engaged workforce, and the importance of continuing to prioritise Workplace Wellbeing.

Q: What are the biggest challenges your clients have faced in the last 12 months?

A:  The same stuff is coming up time and again. It’s predominately work/life balance, particularly with office workers. Even prior to this, if you worked in an office there was a blurred boundary between work and home, due to technology and constantly being ‘switched on’ and accessing emails.

There are real challenges around switching off, home schooling, working longer hours – there are lots of problems around burn-out, stress, anxiety, and guilt. For key workers that are going on-site there is fear around potentially contracting the virus and putting their health at risk. Motivation has also really slipped, particularly in the last 6 months and there is a real mental health issue.

Q: What do you offer to clients whose employees are struggling with the above?

A: I do lots of support in terms of education and workshops. A lot of it is around empowering the employee with choice and offering them the flexibility to design their day as best they can, given their own circumstances. Other businesses have introduced ‘quiet hours’ where there are no internal meetings or calls booked. I also think it’s important that leaders are role models and lead by example.

Q: An Employee Engagement / Internal Communications person is usually visible within a business, how have your clients adapted this to a virtual workforce?

A: I think the key with engagement given the situation, is you must provide a real variety and access to a means of tools and channels. Coming up with different way to engage with your employees that isn’t just a zoom or teams call. Businesses have been doing lots of different things such as podcasts, physically sending parcels and letters in the post of appreciation, also making sure that any workshops and videos are recorded so that people can watch them in their own time.

For key workers, some of my clients have had physical screens thanking employees - it’s just different touch points. Digital apps have also been introduced for things like mental health and meditation – the good thing about this is it’s very accessible and scalable for global businesses.

Q: What would you say are the positives for wellbeing and engagement post-pandemic?

A: I think the interest in wellbeing, the uptake on it and that businesses are setting wellbeing as a priority has sky rocketed. Businesses have realised that wellbeing initiatives are not just a nice to have, they’re a must have and can’t just be something that’s reactive to a crisis, it needs to be on the agenda all the time and a constant working progress.

The other great thing is a shift in power from the employer to the employee. A term that’s been used is ‘the age of employee empowerment’. Employees are speaking up more and businesses who respond well to this are going to have a far more engaged workforce and a better performance. Wellbeing is a key enabler of engagement.

I think the development of corporate wellbeing will be a real legacy of the pandemic and the future of work. 


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