People Matters: Lucy Eden

This week, Lucy Eden joins us to discuss how employees can thrive. Lucy is the founder of Be in Your Element, a service that organises bespoke wellbeing events for employees. Her company offers holistic experiences both in-person and in a hybrid format to ensure that everyone can take the time to focus on their wellness.

How is health and wellbeing linked to engagement and performance? Do you have any real-life examples of how focusing on the former boosts the latter?

Wellbeing and performance are inextricably linked. Good performance relies on three main pillars of wellbeing focus: the physical, mental, and emotional. Once these are engaged and people are in good health, they will have a stronger sense of wellbeing, will tune into themselves better, and perform better.

Physical, mental, and emotional health are interconnected but individually there are obvious benefits too. Good physical health contributes to higher energy levels, improving your sustained focus, clarity, and productivity for work. Mental health is also crucial as your cognitive functions impact everything you do. Your brain keeps you connected, thinking, mentally clear for decision making, and efficient at solving problems.

Emotional elements are crucial too. They are often grouped in with mental functions, but our feelings deserve their own focus. If you’re emotionally well, you’re more likely to feel motivated, enthusiastic, and passionate about the work you do.

A profound example I experienced was with one gentleman who was initially sceptical about the meditation process. His group were healthcare frontline workers, who are constantly facing stressful situations. Despite his apprehension, he took part in a three-minute meditation activity.

After, he checked the heart monitoring function of his sports watch. He found that his heart rate had slowed down by almost half. He said that after witnessing such a dramatic change in himself, he’d become a believer in the benefits of meditation.

Now, the organisation’s management team is implementing meditation sessions before meetings, incorporating their newfound understanding into their day-to-day work. It’s really rewarding to witness how focusing on wellness creates change in people, especially when initial sceptics embrace the process.

In your opinion, what do employees need to really thrive?

Again, it’s about meeting employees’ physical, emotional, and psychological needs. These help people feel empowered and able to succeed. If they feel valued, and a part of something that extends beyond themselves, that is what breeds a sense of purpose. The teamwork inherent in that process really transforms workplaces into communities where people can strive to thrive.

As a nation, we’re on the brink of burnout due to stress, especially as hybrid work can blur the boundaries between home life and work life. For employers that prioritise physical, emotional, and psychological factors and create a positive and inclusive, growth-orientated environment, their employees will thrive because they feel valued, empowered, and supported in their work.

What is the role of communications in making sure people make the most of the benefits and services that their employer offers?

Effective communication is critical in the workplace. Organisations only get engagement through what they initiate.

Different forms of communication within an organisation need to align with the company’s end goal. We distribute an anonymous questionnaire to clients’ employees that assesses whether company values match individuals’ needs. Wellbeing is personal to everyone. So, on an organisational level, these questionnaires enable us to find out as much information as possible about what is best suited to the environment. This helps us understand what stage the organisation is at and where it wants to be so wellness benefits and services can be uniquely tailored.

Every organisation should have a comprehensive comms strategy in place for promoting employee support.

How have internal communications had to evolve in a world of hybrid working, or where a large part of your workforce is remote?

For any wellness plan to work, a structure of compassionate leadership needs to be in place, where employers understand that their employees are not numbers. The pandemic really highlighted that people need human-to-human contact.

Community workplace events can draw people into the office who would otherwise work remotely. Activities can help break up a person’s day and draw value from attending the office. This can build team trust and respect that is harder to develop in a meeting or over a screen.

How do you encourage inclusivity? Not just tick boxes and suit budgets.

Inclusivity means reaching out to people to understand what makes them tick and adapting to different audiences. Whoever walks through the door needs to be treated with respect, and their needs must be considered. Encouraging inclusivity can often mean compromise.

Work socials are a great example. Traditionally, they have involved alcohol, which excludes non-drinkers, people of certain religions, or people who just don’t enjoy going to the pub or a party.

Instead of running an alcohol-fueled happy hour, why not think about running a happy hour that is intended to raise endorphins? Making mocktails, for example, lets people be involved in the process but not actually consume alcohol. Other ‘happy hour’ activities can include puppy yoga, aromatherapy or disco yoga. These cultivate a social party vibe that centres the happy without the hangover so everyone can get involved.

For us championing wellbeing, it doesn’t matter whether people are familiar with mindfulness activities like meditation or aren’t even familiar with the term. We create an inclusive, neutral space for them to engage. For some people, the thought of getting on a yoga mat is horrifying so why not adapt so people move at their desks rather than on mats?

How can you help ensure the approach to internal communications is inclusive?

It all starts with planning. Think about your audience and who you are speaking to, consider different backgrounds, beliefs and motivators and then think outside the box about how to reach them. The internal tone of an organisation can be changed through what it offers. It is about walking the walk not just talking the talk.

How can employers facilitate dialogue and build understanding when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion?

Employers need to understand that inclusivity is not something they can build for free. It takes investment in the form of time and money. It’s not a one hit wonder.  Including wellbeing initiatives into monthly or yearly budgets prioritises employees’ health and builds a community of trust and respect.

DE&I is something that needs to exist within the structure of a workplace. Presenting opportunities and activities to help facilitate open dialogues of communication can support this, but this has to be an ongoing effort.

How do you ensure active listening and a productive employee-employer feedback loop?

Listening is fundamental to developing a healthy working culture.

We work with a range of clients in different industries, and they require different focuses. It’s about what is most beneficial for the audience. For example, working overnight shift patterns can take a toll on people’s health. So, activities that centre around healthy sleeping patterns can be most beneficial. A senior manager in HQ who works a 9-5pm desk job won’t necessarily know what their frontline employees on the ground experience daily.

Employers should show they care about their employees by ensuring they have a voice and a platform to share their opinions and feedback. Employers that listen to their employees’ needs are most likely to foster a good working environment.

More from our People Matters series

Read more from our previous People Matters series:

Mark Sutcliffe

Jasmine Hudson

Grace Lewis

Jaime Lloyd-Jones

Mary Appleton

Sophie Wade

Smadar Cohen-Chen

Ashleigh Cresswell and Andy Grant

Sabrina Stubbs