Hi, I'm Holly Tucker, and welcome to the Bupa how to play texas hold 'em Academy for Small Businesses.
This series aims to provide you with the practical support and advice to help you manage your team's health.
In this episode, we'll be discussing why in the current economic climate it's more important than ever to look after your team's wellbeing.
I'm delighted to be joined by Laura Williams, head of partnership's legal team at Worknest.
Worknest provide employers with expert HR, employment law, and health and safety advice.
Laura has qualified both as a solicitor and a barrister, and has 15 years of experience in the legal sector supporting SMEs.
And Dr.Rebecca Rohrer.
Rebecca is a medical director in Bupa's UK Healthcare Management, and is also a working doctor with a background in management consultancy.
Right, let's start.
So from your data at Worknest, what are the key things small business owners are worried about at the moment, Laura?
So, as we know, small business owners, it's not uncommon for them to wear multiple hats.
So they're the MD, they're doing the sales, the marketing, everything else.
And in a tough economic climate, they're really feeling the pressure at the moment.
And we're definitely seeing that with the businesses we're advising.
So day-to-day they're having to manage the finances, think about staff retention, recruitment, and often getting the best performance out of what might be a smaller staff team as a result of the Covid pandemic.
And again, those financial pressures they're facing.
And in addition to that, just dealing with the general day-to-day employee issues that may arise.
And it's also, it's quite a turbulent time, isn't it?
And employers have had to really mould with what's been going on in society.
And so I can imagine, one day we are working from home, one day we're not working from home and all these sorts of things, it's really changed the fabrics of business.
So I can understand, and I certainly have heard that businesses are potentially more stressed than I've ever seen them at the moment.
Yeah and flexibility is key there.
And hopefully it's something that, obviously, in my role, I can advise and support and guide businesses to help with that.
'Cause, like you say, sometimes it might seem, well, I'm facing these challenges at certain times, staff teams are feeling it as well.
And inevitably the business owners then feeling that, whilst having to juggle the additional pressures in growing their business and surviving the times we're in.
Dr.Rebecca with so many things to worry about, what are the risks to the wellbeing of small business owners?
We know that there's research showing that about 50% of SME owners are losing sleep because of stress and mental health issues.
And I think a lot of that is because they're trying to balance the demands of running a business, which is challenging at the best of times, but particularly difficult now.
And as we heard from from Laura, small businesses, they're often coordinating lots of different functions of the business and whilst they want to be successful and they want to grow their business, they also have to contend with inflation and rising energy costs and burnout and sickness and tax and all of these issues.
And so it's unsurprising that that can become overwhelming at times.
I think as the UK economy continues to throw curve balls, I think this is a really good opportunity for SME owners to think about their own health and wellbeing and also that of their employees, because we know that an increase in poor wellbeing poses a real threat to the resilience of not just the employees, but also the business itself.
The effects of that can be low productivity, it can be employee absences, it can be low performance levels and issues with recruitment and retention.
So the wellbeing of the employees, but also the business owner is really critical to this.
And when that business owner isn't looking after themselves, it's really difficult for them to look after other people.
Yeah, I couldn't agree more.
And I almost liken it to the way that we look at it health about our selves.
You have to have a healthy organisation, that's a healthy boss with body and mind, and thus then hopefully your team looks to the boss or you champion it.
And actually that really does show, you can tell happy organisations, you can tell healthy organisations very quickly.
So Laura, as you mentioned, business owners have to spin multiple plates and you forgot the marigold wearing in your list there and are often expected to be experts in various topics, including managing the health and wellbeing of the people.
Laura, you talk to SMEs every single day.
So from your perspective, what's the risk associated with trying to do it all yourself?
Well, what we're commonly seeing is business owners coming to us completely stressed and actually burnt out and mistakes can happen.
And when we're trying to run at that capacity and sometimes, well, we often get calls from people in really desperate states saying, "Really stressed out, we need help with this.
"And it's something that might have been quite a small issue.
They just haven't had time or just haven't had the awareness or understanding of how to deal with it.
It's grown to a much bigger issue, which then potentially is going to take more time, energy, and effort from them to then sort out.
So it's really important to tap into these helpful resources, which are available, where they can.
I call it the ostrich effect.
It's like when you are so busy and you just know you've gonna do it, but you don't feel maybe confident to do it, bury your head in the sand and hope it will go away.
And the whole point is it never does, it actually just becomes bigger and bigger and as you said, it can become overwhelming.
Dr.Rebecca, we know that financial stress, I mean we talk about all these stresses, but financial stress, especially at the moment, is a big concern for many small business owners and also their staff at the moment.
What would your advice be to someone struggling with this?
I think the first step is really understanding that you're experiencing financial stress.
And it may not necessarily present itself as realising that you're stressed.
You may be having difficulty sleeping, you may be eating too much or too little, problems concentrating.
So if you are experiencing any of those symptoms, then it's probably a good time to reflect.
I think if you do feel that you are suffering from a certain element of financial stress, then it's about going back to basics to start with.
Really focusing on your sleep, focusing on a good diet, trying to get out for 30 minutes a day, ideally somewhere green like a local park just for a walk and some sunlight, focusing on exercise.
And most importantly, leaning into your network, whether that's your family, your friends, your colleagues, to let them know that you're struggling.
I think if that doesn't work and if you feel like you need some more support, then we've got lots of resources that are able to help you.
You know, we've got Anytime HealthLine, we've got our Family Mental HealthLine, we've got Silver Cloud, which is our online portal where you can access courses and resources, including therapies like CBT if you want to deal with something very specific.
And of course we also have direct access, where you are able to be put in contact with a mental health practitioner if that's the best thing for you.
Yeah, and I, for nearly 20 years dealing with small businesses, one of the things I know that really is so stressful is this financial worries, especially when you're your own boss, it's your personal financial status as much as your professional, and then your teams as well where you actually feel the responsibility of everybody's financial wellbeing as well.
And as you said, I'm interested in that because a lot of our fears about finance can be very deep-rooted.
It can be how we were brought up or our experiences were, are we scared of money, are we gonna bury our heads in the sand?
And all those sorts of things.
So it's just amazing that actually that approach of this actually not only causes mental stress, but actually mentally we can help ourselves to actually cope with the pressure.
Laura, can small businesses outsource more, in your opinion?
And I know this for a fact, that most business owners are, perfectionists and we are a bit of, you know, like to have the control, let's put it that way, when it comes to looking after your people, do you think that they don't ask for help enough?
Outsourcing could be a really powerful tool.
It shouldn't be seen as being too expensive a resource because actually there are tailored and flexible options available for a different size of businesses.
And it's a common misconception we'll have to wait till I have a staff team of 25 before I might seek some sort of HR employment support.
But actually as soon as you employ one person, you are an employer and there are legal obligations to go alongside with that responsibilities.
And for me, I truly believe that the staff team is really the backbone of your business and it can be your greatest asset as well.
So in looking after them, can actually help you grow as a business, can aid productivity.
We know that We've seen that 60% of SMEs will say that where they've looked to offer, for example, health and wellbeing benefits to their staff team, that actually it can increase of productivity and also staff morale as well.
It's important to remember that and that again, can aid in the progress and success of your business overall.
Yeah, a happy team.
The power of that, it's a battery almost locked into your company and that's what we need to invest in.
And I've seen it firsthand, the power of that.
Dr.Rebecca, how can people alleviate supporting their team's health and wellbeing so that they can focus on running their business?
I think it's about creating a culture of health and wellbeing within your organisation.
And that may include having to lead from the front.
I think there are so many benefits to having a positive culture of health and wellbeing.
It helps you recruit, it helps you retain and it helps you perform.
So I don't think that there's any reason not to invest time and energy into it.
What does that actually entail?
Well, I think that means, you know, keeping conversations open, providing people with the information and the support so that they feel confident that they can come forward with healthcare concerns.
And that kind of creates an environment where they're a also able to tackle them.
It also means that having a very robust policy around your mental health policy, for example.
And it might mean putting in support services like gym membership or having a running team once a week or yoga instructor come to the office.
Free fruit for snacks.
These basic things can also be really important.
And again, I really want to go back to this issue that if you don't look after yourself, you can't look after other people.
So it's really important that by creating the policy, you help to support yourself as well.
And actually creating the policy alleviates some of that stress about health and wellbeing within your organisation off you so that you can focus on the success of your business.
You've got to sort of lead from the front.
I know that from personal experience that, I've taken that on in the last two, three years and I've absolutely seen my team become healthier or more open about their wellbeing.
And actually then that's almost been a nice circle that comes around to then I feel the pressure to maintain that.
And so actually it's a healthy habit that we've brought into the team and actually made us closer as well, because it's another side of business, isn't it?
It's not necessarily your everyday part of business, but it's a nice side.
Laura, what would your advice be to a small business owner struggling to keep on top of everything?
Best advice for me is to get the appropriate support and advice, whether that's from your professional business network or professionally outsourced or service, in my line of work, I'm advising day-to-day on strategic planning.
So thinking it forward but also reactionary.
So it might just be as simple as managing those day-to-day.
Someone might have been off sick for a lengthy period of time, what do I do about this and how do I manage that?
So it's important to deal with things promptly as well.
Like we mentioned before, putting your head in the sun, like you say, it can create into a bigger issue, which then takes your time, attention, efforts, away from other key elements of running your business and growing it.
So it's really important to seek help where you can and there's a whole wealth of resource out there to tap into it.
Would you say as well that it's about identifying that you are struggling as well?
I think that you tend to, when you're leading from the front, you want to look like you've got everything under control and things, but you almost have to identify that you do need help and that actually being vulnerable, being open, is going to make your business stronger, rather than, as we are saying, ignoring those facts and actually not asking for help.
I'm sure you've had experience of people not asking for help and what that's done for them.
There has been occasions, people have called saying, "Laura, this is becoming so stressful today", it's at the point in which they've come to us to seek that help.
They're on the verge of saying like, "I don't think I can manage this business anymore.
I want to close it.
"Easier to give up.
It's terrible they've gonna that state with it, when actually it's something that in majority of cases had they sought that support earlier, we could have helped guide 'em through and work their way through it.
And it's a learning curve as well.
We advise and support and guide through that and we learn about their business as much as they're learning about what to do because it's a balance.
Obviously, in my role, there's legal obligations obviously that have to be met, but isn't this that pragmatic approach to it?
And there's always a workaround and way through it.
And it's normally quite a lonely existence we have.
So actually to be able to share with someone who can give you actual advice and solutions, that's unheard of.
Dr.Rebecca, if a business owner is struggling with their mental health.
So they've gonna that point that they've realised.
What can they do to find support?
There's lots of support available.
So, I would urge people, just if they're concerned, please lean in.
I think there are free resources that it's important people are aware of.
So we have our Mental Health Hub, it's available online, it's got so much content and resources and sources of support available that people can research in their own time.
We've also partnered with a really interesting social media mental health organisation called Jack.
And their entire aim is to increase availability to expert-led information.
So they have partnered with world-leading experts, doctors and people who have lived experience of mental health issues, like Alistair Campbell for example, who are able to provide information about mental health, answer questions.
And it's all completely free.
I think for those Bupa customers, there's also some additional resources available.
So we have direct access, which is the ability to call to speak to a trained practitioner.
And if you meet certain criteria, obviously if it's co covered by policy, then actually you can be booked in directly to see a mental health practitioner.
We also have Silver Cloud, which I briefly mentioned earlier, which is an online portal which has courses and support and access to therapies like CBT.
And then finally we have Growth Plus, which is a really interesting and exciting new proposition, which is a specific wellbeing service just for small business owners.
And it's a single number that you can call to speak to a trained professional who particularly understands the challenges of being a small business owner.
And that provides you also with access to our 24/7 Anytime HealthLine, our Mental Health Family Line and also to menopause support, which is, of course, an increasing issue in the workplace.
God, that is actually amazing, Rebecca, it's so great that there is one phone number to access that range of specialists.
That's just, yes, incredible.
If business owners also wanted HR support, what can they do, Laura?
So as an additional elements of the Growth Plus offering business owners have access to free HR support, so telephone, email advice.
And there's also a workplace wellbeing resource kit.
So there's a range of templates, helpful guides to help SMEs through the whole employee life cycle really and supplemented by that live and bespoke advice and support as well.
It's amazing because that is definitely, when I talk to small businesses where they worry about employing someone, is it that responsibility and the letters and what should I do next?
So that's just fantastic.
What's the most common topics businesses want to talk to you about?
Well, off the back really of the Covid pandemic and the challenges we're facing, obviously, with the current economic climate as well.
What we're seeing is businesses trying to be really creative about employee retention and engagement.
So obviously salaries are gonna play an important part to that, but what we're seeing is a real emphasis on flexible working arrangements and we really are seeing companies be just that, very flexible.
It helps with staff engagement and productivity, but what's really important from my side of things is getting the right advice to formalise it where you need to.
So for example, there may be ad hoc casual arrangements in place, but ultimately there is a change to terms and conditions and hopefully they've got that contract of employment in place from the start.
So any amends to that, again, we can guide and support and it's important to formalise that.
And other than that, we are still seeing a lot of businesses struggling to manage staff absence.
We're seeing a whole range of long Covid cases that are continuing and we're feeling our way in terms of managing that, but we can guide the SMEs in managing that absence or indeed succession planning if that needs to take place as well.
It's been such a shift, hasn't there, in the way that we are working and the way employers and employees are engaging with each other.
In my personal experience, I went from all working in the office to becoming a working from home organisation, overnight.
Obviously so many people did that and we've maintained that actually.
We've had to be flexible, but actually again as you said, putting those changes into our terms and conditions and updating people, as long as you have a lot of communication and keep it open and fluid and listen, I think we're heading in such an interesting direction as a workforce.
Dr.Rebecca, if small business owners don't put more focus on looking after their wellbeing, what are the longer term risks?
I think it's important to think about the risks not just to yourself, but to your friends, to your family and to your colleagues as well.
And I tend to think about stress in particular.
Now, you know, stress is a reaction to external pressure and it can be very motivating.
It's incredibly common and it can help us to balance all of the things that we need to balance in our day-to-day lives.
But if stress goes on for too long or you have too much of it, then we do start to see negative consequences.
And certainly long-term stress can lead to profound physical, mental, behavioural burnout.
And I tend to think about the effects of stress as mental, physical, and behavioural.
And mentally it can present not even as a feeling of stress, but difficulty concentrating, problems with your short term memory, headaches.
And actually if that goes on for too long, then we know that increases the risk of serious side effects like an anxiety and depression.
Behaviorally, people might become more irritable, snappy and then long term actually might develop really unhealthy coping mechanisms, including addiction to alcohol.
And then physically, actually it can present as chest pain, body aches, headaches, dizziness, GI symptoms, even sexual problems.
And longer term we know that long term stress leads to a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic back pain.
So these are real effects and I think that that points to the fact that it's really early to identify the It's really important to identify these as early as possible and hopefully with all of the resources that we've discussed, there should be enough in there to arm yourself to try and deal with it by yourself if you want to, but also to feel the support that if you do want to lean in and you need a bit of extra support, then there's a lot out there.
It's absolutely brilliant.
And also the point is, why did we create our small businesses in the first place?
It was to do what we love, it was to play out our dreams of whatever we wanted to build, to build a team.
And actually if you are in that place that you are becoming sick because the stress, we've just got to take that responsibility to call it out.
There's so much support here and get ourselves back on track.
Stop it early and so that we can get back to enjoying it.
And Laura, finally, are there any watchouts for SME owners that they need to know for the year ahead?
Are there any new legislations or any shifts in trends that they should be aware of?
So following Brexit at the end of 2023, we're going to see the revocation of a lot of EU derived legislation unless it's preserved by government.
So we're really watching with a keen eye on that as to what changes.
'Cause inevitably that will be changes to workplace legislation off the back of that.
But in the interim, we touched on flexible working earlier, there's actually been a change in the law to make that.
Well, proposed change in the law, sorry, to make that easier for people to apply for flexible working, making it a day-one right from when you start employment, shortening the process and the timeframe which an employer has to deal with those requests.
And also reducing the amount of hurdles the employees have to go through.
So you can see the sort of themes of where things are going.
There's also a lot of, in a very positive way, a lot of proposed legislation changes for women in the workplace who are having to take time off perhaps for neonatal care.
There's proposals in place to have some paid time after that and also further protections for pregnant members of staff as well.
So see a bit of a theme there and the legislation that's coming through this year.
So we really must keep up to date with those changes.
Well thank you very much for all of your advice.
So we're nearly at the end of our session, but before we go, let's look at the top takeaways from our experts here.
Poor wellbeing poses a threat to both the resilience of the employees and the business itself and obviously the actual opportunity that it could go after.
The wellbeing of the business owner, the founder, that battery at the helm, is critical to the growth and success of the business.
Something I think we tend to forget.
And by getting help, business owners can increase the chances of their business succeeding as it eases the burden of trying to do all of it themselves.
What they've gonna do though is just recognise it and ask for help.
So thank you Laura and thank you Rebecca for such a thought-provoking conversation.
Next up we'll be moving on to the second part of our session, which I'm really excited about.
But before we do that, we'd like to ask you a quick poll.
Are you worried about the impact of the cost of living crisis on your small businesses?
We are now moving on to the second part of today's session.
We'll be asking two small business owners about their experience of running a business and how they look after their own wellbeing to be resilient for their team and their business.
Please could you start by introducing yourselves and telling us briefly about your business and roles.
My name's Andy Wilkinson and I'm founder and managing partner of OWB Creative.
We are a full service marketing agency based in Birmingham.
My role is predominantly around creative strategy and business development and looking after really the overall client direction for the agency.
Hi, I'm Shari Bryan and I'm also co-founder and client services director at OWB.
My role is much more about liaising with the clients and the team, the creative team and production, making sure that projects get delivered on time and also working on more of the admin side of the business.
So that could be anything from HR through to finance and just basically keeping the business going.
How long have you worked together?
23 Years this year.
founded in 2000.
This is amazing.
So first question Andy, what keeps you awake at night?
Well firstly I think experience has shown me that external factors, I've given up on worrying about those.
When you first start a business, everything seems like a mountain and you worry about so much.
So now I'm focused or I probably am kept awake by two main things, one of which is business development.
Keeping that pipeline of business, the confidence of a call from a client, A good call or a bad call can keep you awake.
And the second thing I think is the overall navigation of our staff thinking about our business.
And one of the interesting things is having got through, as a small business, through Covid and realising that we can adapt, we can be a virtual business, we can be a hybrid business, I think it shows you that once you get through that you really can get through anything.
It's unbelievable, even for entrepreneurs, I think this time has shown us truly what we can do.
It was a very scary period of time and even us entrepreneurs was probably shocked by how versatile and chameleon-like that we could be.
Shari, do you think you put your own wellbeing first?
You know, it's a big question here.
And for those who are busy running a company, we tend to go on the bottom of the list, don't we?
Yeah, so I think I've got a lot better at it over the years.
I think anyone who has their own business will know, especially when you start out, it's all consuming.
You feel that you have to go that extra mile, you can't afford to let anybody down.
And when you're small and you don't have the resources of other people to support you, you're doing everything yourself.
So you are responsible for every role in a business.
As you get a little bit older, a little bit wiser, and hopefully your business grows and you bring on more people and you can bring in other resources to support you, of course you can take back a little bit more of your own time, but there's always still times when you are on your email, you're answering calls in the evening and at weekends.
And I think any business owner understands that and that's never gonna go away.
But that's also the fun of having your own business.
Yeah, and wouldn't you say in recent times, we're gonna talk about our teams, but that actually we do realise it sort of starts with ourselves and potentially with society talking more about wellbeing.
It's actually helped us think, "Oh, that's us too.
"It's not everyone else, it applies to me.
I think I've learned a lot more, I think both of us have as well, is that you can actually sometimes back off a little bit.
You don't have to immediately jump in and deliver when sometimes things just aren't reasonable to do that.
You can take the time to sit back and say, "Actually we need to think about delivering this in a different way because it's not possible.
"But you can do that together as a team and that works very well.
Andy, tell me about what a good day looks like versus a bad day for you.
Well, a good day for me is most definitely being out in the agency or out with clients.
I have adopted, adapted to the Zoom world, but I don't particularly like it.
So a great day for me is being up early, walking Rudy, our puppy, being back, getting suited and booted, getting out in front of a client.
Especially if I can get my pens out and do some doodling and some ideas.
And I like getting back into the agency, seeing it really busy.
I love the team being in and ending up with a couple of beers.
That makes a really good day.
That feels like a really strong, powerful day.
Whereas a bad day.
I think two things on a bad day, I think a bad day is always something that's out of your control.
Something that you can't control, you can't impact on that makes a bad day.
I feel a bad day is also if you don't get out for some exercise, to do something to feel the wind in your hair, to get outside.
And also critically as well is getting my ticks in.
I have to have my list and I have to see those red ticks all done, even if I make a few up to know that I've had a really good day.
Otherwise it is a bad day.
Have you ever, I'm not saying I have, written down something you've completed on your list so that you can tick it off?
Oh yes, definitely.
I mean it's great isn't it?
It's even better.
Even like wake up, have a coffee, tick, tick.
I've done two things already.
When you think about that bad day, do you feel that when things are out of your control that you, as you've grown and sort of become wiser, I think we all become wiser as our businesses grow, you are able to take a different viewpoint on these things because I suppose Covid and everything that we went through was completely out of our control.
But do you think that built the muscle up for a lot of small businesses to sort of have a new look on outside elements that can come and rock your world, so to speak?
100%, Holly, I think you suddenly realised that there is so much out of your control that you can only impact on immediate things.
You can only make sure that if it's a client issue or a staff issue, that you are with people, you are supporting them, you are doing as much as you humanly can, but you have to work out that there's nothing you can do, so let its take its course.
Everything will be a bright day tomorrow we will wake up and we can go again.
So, you know, you really do.
And that is age and experience as well of being a business owner.
I would think that doing this, if Covid had hit 22 years ago when we first were in business, we'd probably be in very, very different (indistinct) I think it drew a line in the sand as well for all businesses to say, certainly for us to say, if you can get through that, you can pretty much get through anything.
It's very tough times.
So to have a plan for your business to get through is great.
So tell me, how do you recognise the signs that you are struggling?
I mean I actually do enjoy being under pressure.
I think I work better under pressure and when I've got a deadline to work to, that's great.
But I think I would recognise, really when it's too much, I just can't focus.
I suddenly am unable to prioritise.
Everything's become a little bit overwhelming and I think the two of us as well as a business partnership have become very good at recognising that with each other.
You tend to crack on and deliver the bits of your business that you need to.
And then you'll suddenly be aware, almost subconsciously, that the other partner is perhaps struggling a little bit with something.
And it's at times like that we'll just sort of just stop and down tools, talk it through, analyse what the situation is, what do we need to do as a team to get through it.
And invariably we can manage to do that between us.
I think it's interesting you are a duo.
For a lot of people listening to this at the moment, they all be running their own business by themselves.
And I think having that person, it could be friends or maybe family.
It could be someone that you actually employ just to be able to share, "These are the signs of when I'm very stressed" or "Could you ask me how I am?
I don't want to trouble you, but I would love you to ask me in case I need to offload.
"We tend to take on a lot, don't we?
I think that's vitally important, Holly, we've spoken about that many times in how thankful we are that there are two of us to share that problem.
So exactly as you say, friends, family, anybody else who can come in and support you if you are on your own, just so you've got someone to discuss, situations with is really helpful.
So Andy being your own boss, it has its share of challenges as we know.
What do you find the most stressful?
The most stressful thing about being your own boss are things that are outside of your control.
Things that you can't foresee and they create an immediate pileup on your day and they could be really simple things and they could be an IT issue or a courier issue.
And once those things begin to impact upon you, it creates a real.It creates a real issue, creates a real burden and you have to lead from the front, you have to deliver it.
And one of the other things I think that being hybrid working nowadays almost makes these things slightly worse.
'Cause when you used to all be in an office, you could share that sort of, you know, there's a problem you could get round a table and sort it out.
So actually having people away from offices, I think, makes things sometimes they magnify what is really probably not a very big problem.
So I think that's one real challenge.
But I'm also passionate as well that about you should look for a business coach or a mentor, someone.
Reach out to your network to find someone that you can help.
Probably may might be older than you in a different industry, but they can help really make some of those challenges feel a lot easier, can help you guide, navigate, your way around things that you might find very difficult.
But actually somebody else, someone a little bit wiser has been there, they've seen it and they can show you a really good route map around it.
And I think that the, again, it's this sharing isn't it?
It's actually I think a lot of us believe that we were meant to maybe swallow a business book at a young age and that us business owners, we know everything.
And actually I think the whole point is, things do change and they change all the time and our job is to assess it and to try and work around it.
And we have teams that we need to lead and that can be, though, very difficult because sometimes we actually don't know what we're doing, we're making it up as we go along but have to seem like we absolutely have it completely under control.
So that's the trickery pokery that we're doing here.
So how do you support your team's mental wellbeing?
We've talked about your mental wellbeing and having those signals that you can support one another.
But how do you support your team?
Can you notice things that are happening in the teams?
Well I think we've done some quite strategic things to support the team actually.
And picking up on what you said about being able to change and adapt.
During Covid, we took the opportunity to completely uproot the business to a new location.
It was an ideal opportunity that you get possibly never, but certainly only maybe once in a business lifetime, where everybody suddenly out of the blue is working from home.
So we are able to take the whole business, relocate into much nicer premises, even though we're in the centre of a city.
That was a great move for us.
We are very close to green space.
Cafes, bars, restaurants and all those things that are great for people's wellbeing.
And then of course post Covid, that's a great help for us to encourage people to come back in, because I feel, both of us feel, it's really important even in this hybrid world that there has to be some connection, some human connection.
We want people back in the office, we want people to socialise, spend time.
I think you work better when you collaborate, but also wellbeing-wise, when you're able to go and share a beer after work or have a chat or a coffee, whatever that is.
But to speak to other people.
So that was one very important thing that we did.
Bringing people back in, into a really nice welcoming space.
And secondly, having the daily check-in.
So regardless of whether you're in the office or you're working from home, without fail we have a check-in in the morning, is everybody okay?
Does everybody know what they're doing?
And that's not just about, "Are you okay with your work load?
"But you know, are you okay with everything that's going on?
Do you need any other support?
And we do pride ourselves on being very flexible with our team.
We understand with the way things have developed over the last two years, that people's lifestyles are all a bit all over the place and they're having to perhaps be drawn in different directions with family, et cetera.
And we are very flexible to that working day doesn't have to be nine to five.
It can be whatever it needs to be to facilitate people's lives.
And would you say that that's been based on the changes that we've seen in recent years?
Would you have done this?
'Cause I asked myself would I've done this 20 years ago?
I would've wanted everybody around their tables and things like that and see them and to be with them and to grow.
But have you witnessed, you're in the creative world, have you witnessed creativity with this flexibility, increasing?
I think, just picking up on, I think it has.
I think you miss some of those small moments, the ability to just very quickly get onto a project.
But I think allowing people flexibility in their life, they work at different times.
People have young families.
I mean we were probably working in a Victorian style.
And you'll see that people can still create great work, can collaborate fantastically.
There are fantastic tools out there that help people collaborate.
And so I think you can keep that creativity, keep that but still give that flexibility and help with your guys' wellbeing and help 'em get through these sort of odd times.
So what do you think are the risks of not looking after your wellbeing?
And does it make you and your business less resilient?
You have to look after your wellbeing, both mentally and physically.
Speaking as a business owner, the buck stops with you.
There is no C-suite, there is no lofty floor above you that can take the heavy lifting, it stops with you.
So you have to be fit physically, you have to be mentally resilient.
It's great having a business partner.
It's amazing having a business partner that you can talk to.
And you have to give your team the tools and the confidence and show that leadership from the front that if they can see you strong, mentally fit, physically fit, they also feel that power coming through and that commitment to them.
And Shari, would you say that that extends to then actually the output of the company?
That actually the healthier the inside, the better the outside so to speak, the better the output?
I think that runs through everything in life, doesn't it?
If you are fit and healthy and you're feeling your wellbeing is topped up, you're in a good state of mind, then all outputs, creative, life, everything is gonna be much more improved.
And it's the same in business.
And tell me, how do you keep yourself resilient when things are really tough?
I think things can be tough and especially this time of year, you know, you get up early in the winter, it's cold, it's miserable and it can be hard, but I find you've got to get on, you just got to get one foot in front of the other and then before you know it, I love getting to the office and seeing the team, getting involved in a project just lifts me.
Just getting involved and talking and discussing plans is great.
And then I think things just take care of themselves then really.
As long as you've got a positive outlook, it really helps.
And within OWB we've got a bit of a mantra where we have a can-do attitude and even if you're not feeling it, that's what you're saying at the back of your mind.
It's a can-do.
And that helps you get through most things And even if you can't do it, someone else in the team, you can talk it through and work out whatever needs to be sorted.
Thank you so much.
Thank you so much for your insights.
That's it from us today.
Thank you to Shari and Andy for being guests on the Bupa how to play texas hold 'em Academy for Small Businesses.
And a big thank you to everyone listening.
I hope you found it useful.
See you next time.