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Wellbeing challenges

“Striking the perfect work-life balance”

Four wise UK entrepreneurs talk about the importance of wellbeing in the workplace.

Explore how companies build a positive team culture and encourage physical and mental wellbeing at work through healthy eating, yoga, sports clubs, socials and more. 

Find out how our High Growth & Entrepreneurs team can help you with your wellbeing.

Watch what our entrepreneurs had to say and read the interviews below.

What's most important when building a positive team culture?

Lewis Tasker, Chief Operating Officer, JustPark
Well, organisational culture’s a complicated thing. There’s not one or two things which you need to get right, there’s a whole bunch of things you need to get right.

And, of course, in a start-up, you’re running around looking at strategic initiatives, looking at fixing last minute problems all the time, and sometimes organisational culture can take a bit of a back seat, so here at JustPark we really prioritise it, and that comes from the management team, all the way down through the business. I’d say that probably the most important thing is that we treat people as individuals, so we respect their autonomy, we respect their skills, and ultimately we bring people in, and allow them to mess around within their own role and bump around a bit, and make some mistakes. That’s part of their growing up, as well as the organisation’s growing up, so it’s a pretty free-thinking place.

Helen Roberts, Office Manager and Emmalene Maxwell, CFO, The Fold
Emmalene: When it comes to good culture in a company, it’s something that comes from the top so it’s really important that the leaders in the company are seen to be living the values themselves and then that enables the rest of the company to really get on board and get engaged with that way of working and that way of thinking as well.

Helen: I’d say the same, certainly it filters down how Polly leads the company and looks after herself and it definitely reflects in our team, a lot of things that we do here have come from Polly. Things like what she does outside of here, and what we talk about, has influence on everybody, and some of the team events and socials, and things we do in the office, come from up, down to the team, and so it reflects on everybody’s wellbeing.

Olivia O’Brien, Business Development Director, Growing Underground
What’s most important when building a positive team culture is making sure that everyone really understands the main aims and the goals of the business, and really just bringing everyone along for the ride. It’s about getting everyone really invested in what we’re doing.

Vanessa Phillip, Customer Services Manager, Pact
The most positive thing for us at Pact is making sure that our team feel valued and that we’re all contributing to our main goal which is making coffee a force for good. We try and do this in lots of different ways. We’re very passionate about what we do at Pact and that spreads to all of us in the team, we do lots of team events such as weekly coffee classes, which we all enjoy getting involved with, and I think it’s a great time for us to be away from the desk and just to all come together and to learn about what it is we’re all working towards.

How do you manage your own wellbeing?

Lewis Tasker, Chief Operating Officer, JustPark
Well, let’s start with what we do at JustPark. At JustPark we really have three pillars for what we call wellbeing overall, so mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing and what I’d categorise loosely as academically curious wellbeing, so that’s how do you use your brain?.

In terms of physical wellbeing, there’s various different things. We have a running club. We go out pretty much three or four times a week doing 5 or 10K, something like that.

There’s a football club, so there’s probably about ten people here involved in the football club. They’re not really that good, but they’re getting better - it’s all about teamwork. And the final thing in terms of physical wellbeing is we actually have a fitness coach that comes in and works with us every few weeks, looks at nutrition planning, looks at exercises. There’s about 20 people involved in that programme as well, so we take it very seriously.

The second pillar that I mentioned was all about mental wellbeing, so we make sure people have the right time off. We have an unlimited holiday policy and we really make sure people take at least 25 holidays a year.

And the final pillar on there, is academic wellbeing, how do you flex those muscles and how do we make sure you stay intellectually curious? We encourage people to get involved in things outside of work. For instance, I’m studying outside of work at the moment, lots of other people are, and that’s the kind of employee that we really like here, they’re fantastic at their job, but they’ve got other stuff going on as well, and I think that’s very important for our culture.

Another way that we really look at enhancing our culture is going away for away days. So three times a year we’ll take employees away, maybe it’s to walk across the Millennium Dome, next week we’re going curling.

Also once a year we take the employees away for a three or four day break which is half holiday, half strategic workshop sessions to really make sure that the strategy’s embedded, so that people can hit the ground running when they get back, and it’s also a time to relax and bond together as well.

There’s loads of things about the culture at JustPark which aren’t as grand as that as well, even day-to-day stuff, and that makes a big difference, so every day we have a chef-cooked lunch which means that everybody sits down together, enjoys eating together, chats about their days, and then afterwards most people will go out for a walk, just to walk that off and again carry on that team bonding.

Helen Roberts, Office Manager, The Fold
My personal wellbeing is really important and I think it filters through to how you feel and perform at work, so I like to look after myself in the way I eat, I also try and do yoga and meditation every day, I like to exercise and quite a few of the team are the same as well, so that’s a point of conversation I have with the team, there’s a number of people who like to do events, or cycle, or do things, so I think we spur each other on.

Olivia O’Brien, Business Development Director, Growing Underground
I really try and get out at lunch and I try and take a walk around the block. In my personal time, I love to read, I love to exercise, catching up with friends and making sure that when I’m not at work, I’m not looking at my phone, I’m not thinking about what I do here all the time, but that’s really hard because I love what I do here, and it’s just really important to get that time where you sort of turn off.

Vanessa Phillip, Customer Services Manager, Pact
I think it’s really important to make sure that you’ve got a good work-life balance and I think Pact really do encourage this. They encourage flexible working and you can work from home which gives you a bit more of a chance to not be on that usual rush of the commute every single day which definitely helps with my wellbeing. We also do lots of things at Pact, such as yoga every other week, a running club, and we’re also really lucky to have a climbing wall within our facility, so we can all go there after work and it’s a great release.

What’s the key benefit of team wellbeing?

Lewis Tasker, Chief Operating Officer, JustPark
There are various different benefits of team wellbeing. The first from a selfish point of view for JustPark is retention. If people are happy they’re more productive and they’re less likely to leave the business, and obviously that reduces our costs.

But there’s obviously massive benefits to the employee as well. They’re healthier, they’re more engaged with the business, and it’s just generally a nicer place to work if you’ve got people like that around you.

Helen Roberts, Office Manager and Emmalene Maxwell, CFO, The Fold
Emmalene: It’s really important that the team are looking after themselves and that we’re making sure that they are doing that. Wellbeing and their health are really important to us. A happy workforce and a workforce that want to come into work, give their best, is really key for us, and we want that as a business.

Helen: I think if everybody’s feeling good about themselves and they feel like we’re supporting it makes everybody a bit more collaborative and happy to work together on things, if everybody’s feeling well, encourage each other and support each other.

Olivia O’Brien, Business Development Director, Growing Underground
The key benefit of team wellbeing is keeping the team really engaged and contented. Ultimately, you’re not going to progress and you’re not going to be successful as a business if your team’s falling apart, and it’s really important to make sure that your team knows that they’re supported, that they also get breaks when they’re supposed to get breaks, and extended breaks, and time to regroup and refocus. You have to take that time to slow down a little bit and making sure that the team has that keeps everyone really on track.

What are the challenges you face trying to maintain wellbeing within the team?

Lewis Tasker, Chief Operating Officer, JustPark
One of the biggest challenges we see with maintaining wellbeing, however we categorise it, is time. Working in a start up, you’ve got multiple competing priorities. We have a laser-focused strategy that we want to deliver and we’re constantly trying to reinforce that with everybody, and every individual needs to strike that balance between work hard and play hard, and sometimes we get it wrong and sometimes not just as line managers but also as employees with each other, we need to just have a chat with each other and say ‘Hey you need to take a break now’ or ‘You need to look at this a bit differently’, so it’s quite a collaborative environment in terms of that, but I would say that the nature of our business because we’re growing so rapidly means that sometimes we do forget about that.

Helen Roberts, Office Manager and Emmalene Maxwell, CFO, The Fold
Helen: As a start-up, we’re growing quite fast and I think the difficult thing we have to overcome is that pace at which we’re moving, keeping up with being able to communicate and find new ways of adjusting to our growth.

Emmalene: It can be a real challenge to maintain wellbeing in such a fast-growing company. I think it’s up to us as leaders of the company to make sure that our staff are looking after themselves and that we’re looking after them. We want a happy workforce, we want them to come to work and enjoy what they’re doing, because we know we’ll get the best out of them that way.

Helen: People work long hours and don’t always prioritise when there’s a deadline or something that needs to be done, people don’t always prioritise getting out on time, so I think that would be one of the pains of a start-up that’s quite difficult to manage.

Olivia O’Brien, Business Development Director, Growing Underground
The challenges that we face trying to maintain wellbeing within a team comes down to bandwidth and time. We’re a lean start-up and it’s just about having the opportunities to slow down.

Additional comments on wellbeing

How do you build a positive team culture?

Helen Roberts, Office Manager and Emmalene Maxwell, CFO, The Fold
Emmalene: We love a bit of dressing up at The Fold, and if we ever do anything social we like to check that we can dress up. We’ve done a few things, everything from dressing up in the guise of a film or even a theatre show, we’ve done some immersive theatre recently.

Helen: Yes, everyone really gets into the dressing up themes, don’t they? We had The Great Gatsby as one of our themes and Bladerunner as another, so the outfits get quite creative and everybody loves getting into that.

Emmalene: In terms of building social capital, that’s really important in such a small company, we want everyone to really enjoy working here and working with each other, so the social side of it is really important to us. We don’t just do the annual event, we will be sure to have a glass of wine on a Friday night, sometimes a Thursday night, Monday night, and we’ll make sure that everyone’s involved and it’s really important that we get everyone together and chat through things.

Helen: We’re always looking for an excuse to have a social event basically, any reason, any kind of personal achievement, or any kind of birthday, or time of year, we’re always looking for a reason, it might be just a glass of wine, it might be afternoon tea, it might be that we go out and do something.

What factors negatively impact team wellbeing?

Olivia O’Brien, Business Development Director, Growing Underground
As a start-up, the factor that negatively impacts our business the most is bandwidth. It’s always a matter of having enough time to really dedicate enough resources to team wellbeing, our own wellbeing, and also really being able to take those moments to have one-on-ones with people and really press pause. When you’re running at a million miles an hour it’s really hard to think ‘OK, this is the time where I’m going to sit down and have that conversation with that person’, and ultimately, that’s what you have to do. It always comes down to bandwidth and time. There’s just not enough hours in the day.

Other ways of building a positive team culture

Vanessa Phillip, Customer Services Manager, Pact
Other things we do at Pact to create a fun and welcoming environment is that each week, two or three people come together from different teams to cook for the whole office. It’s a really great team building exercise and a great way to practise your cooking skills.

I think building a positive team culture starts even before they’ve walked in the door on their first day. What we like to do at Pact is find out their favourite drink and snack and we make sure that we’ve got it for them and it’s on their desk for when they arrive. It’s a really nice feeling when somebody first arrives on their first day, and they can see that they’re welcomed and valued, and I think it starts things off on a really good note.

At Pact another fun thing that we like to do at 4 o’clock, what we call beer o’clock, means you can go grab a beer from the fridge, go back to your desk, which is a nice way to end the day.

The views and opinions expressed in this content don’t necessarily reflect the views of Barclays Bank UK PLC, nor should they be taken as statements of policy or intent of Barclays Bank UK PLC. Barclays Bank UK PLC takes no responsibility for the veracity of information intimated by a third party and no warranties or undertakings of any kind, whether express or implied, regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information given. Barclays Bank UK PLC takes no liability for the impact of any decisions made based on information contained and views expressed in this video or article.

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