#044 – The Future of Work: A Global Perspective Through the Lens of Wellbeing

Podcast Summary

The change we’ve experienced in the past few years has had a global impact on people, business, and society. The flexibility around how, when, and where we work has fundamentally changed, as have the conversations and expectations about the role that employees and organizations play in the dance called business.

We are painfully aware of the impact that mental health, social connection, and leadership have on the wellbeing and performance of people and the companies that employ them. Today’s guest is Chris Cummings and he has a unique global perspective on workplace culture, people, and leadership mindset.

As CEO of Wellbeing at Work, he runs an annual series of popular events in diverse countries around the world and has a front row seat to the corporate zeitgeist as well as important regional, cultural, and organizational trends.

In our conversation, we will dive into important topics like remote and hybrid work models, employee experience, wellness, benefits, learning and development, and the impact of leadership on outcomes for people and businesses.


Episode Links & Resources

Connect with Chris here:

Website: https://wellbeingatwork.world/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-cummings-b204a525/

Podcast Transcript

Please note: This transcript is generated by computer and may contain errors

Introduction and Overview

The change we’ve experienced in the past few years has had a global impact on people, business, and society. The flexibility around how, when, and where we work has fundamentally changed, as have the conversations and expectations about the role that employees and organizations play in this dance we call business.

And we’re also painfully aware of the impact that mental health, social connection, and leadership have. On the wellbeing and performance of people and the companies that employ them.

Meet the Guest: Chris Cummings

Today’s guest is Chris Cummings, and he has a unique global perspective on workplace culture, people, and leadership mindset.

As CEO of Wellbeing at Work, he runs an annual series of popular events in diverse countries around the world and has a front row seat to the corporate zeitgeist. As well as important regional, cultural, and organizational trends. In our conversation, we dive deep into topics [00:01:00] like remote and hybrid work models, employee experience, wellness, benefits, learning and development, and most importantly, the impact that Leadership has on outcomes for both people and businesses.

Welcome to the Working Well Podcast, a show that explores the rapidly changing landscape of work, being, and performance. Each episode, we dive into the hottest topics in leadership, corporate culture, and the future of work. I’m your host, Tim Borris. Now let’s learn a little bit about Chris. Chris Cummings is on a global mission to create workplaces where employees thrive.

He’s group CEO of Wellbeing at Work, where his team organizes a global series of Wellbeing at Work summits, runs a global workplace community called the Wellbeing at Work Hub, and facilitates a C suite community called Wellbeing at Work Bespoke that’s helping C suite leaders drive positive change globally.

Chris is also co founder of the Inside Out Awards in the UK. [00:02:00] And as an advisor for organizations with purpose around the world, Chris, welcome to the show. Great to see you. It it’s been what a few weeks since you were in Calgary here, how things been since then. Yeah. Great to be here. And thank you for the invitation, Tim.

I really appreciate it. I love I love doing podcasts and yeah, it was lovely to meet you in person in Calgary at the summit a few weeks ago. And and yeah, really I’ve been getting back and planning for the next one. So yeah, it’s been a busy period, but yeah, great to be here today.

Fantastic. And, we’re going to talk a whole lot about the global perspective on workplace wellbeing and the future of work, things like that.

Chris’s Journey to Workplace Wellbeing

I want to dive into a little bit right at the beginning of how you actually got here. Like you run these events all over the world. And I think from what I saw, you have a sales background.

Tell me a bit about that. Yeah, so I was I was minding my own business in the corporate world as you say, in in sales but mainly on events. [00:03:00] And it was actually an episode with my partner about just over a decade ago.

The Impact of Workplace Culture on Mental Health

My partner has anxiety and depression and had a subsequently poor treatment at work, really.

And it just stopped me in my tracks. I thought that there’s got to be a better way. I saw what was happening. And a lot of that stress and a lot of that mental health was caused by the workplace. Poor culture bad management all of those things that we know can have an impact on our wellbeing.

So it motivated me really to quit the corporate world and and start out on this mission to, to bring leaders together to, to try and change the conversation around the workplace and to put an emphasis and a focus on. On well being in the workplace with particular focus on mental health and looking at how that links to performance.

I have to say, I had no ambitions to do anything internationally. It was just a small little gathering in the UK. But more and more multinationals came to the event, told their colleagues and it just organically grew [00:04:00] internationally. Yeah, it’s been it’s been a crazy journey.

It’s been a really fulfilling one. It feels very purpose driven. And it was great to, to bring the summit to Calgary this year for the first year. So yeah, it’s been an exciting time. Awesome. It’s been nine years now, I think you’ve been doing it and wonderful to see how it’s grown.

And I hope it continues to grow because this message just needs to be out there more, and I’ve heard the story you’re saying from so many different people in, different countries around the world as well. I’m sure it. It’s the same in almost every country, unfortunately, for so many people work really just sucks and it’s not a pleasant experience.

They’re feeling stressed out, burnt out. That’s, I guess that’s why we’re facing that so much today. Now, it’s interesting what you said about the, your partner on the mental health side, because I did see you, you’re a very strong mental health advocate, your support a couple of different organizations.

And [00:05:00] you’d think over the past nine years with all we know that things would have changed a lot.

The Evolution of Workplace Wellbeing

So in, in that time, what has changed and what do you see still has to be worked on? Yeah, it’s it’s the billion dollar question, isn’t it? It’s so I wrote an article actually a few weeks ago comparing wellness to wellbeing.

And I think this sort of sums up the last decade I guess from my perspective. When we first started the the summits, there was a lot of talk about Fruit Fridays and and yoga classes and things like that. And and that was that, that’s good. We all need good nutrition good exercise, looking after ourselves.

Good sleep. All of those things are personal to the individuals to help their own well being. What I’ve been trying to do over this last 9 or 10 years is really focus on the elements of the workplace that we can change and try and develop to enable people to thrive.

So I [00:06:00] touched on it earlier around. The culture of an organization, the job profile, the workload, the bad line managers, all of those things that can have a real impact. It doesn’t matter if we’re eating well, sleeping well, doing all of the right things personally, which I would class as wellness. The piece around well being is actually things that we can’t control and because we spend so much time at work, if we can change the workplace for the better and create environments where people can thrive.

Then all of those things that you do personally really enhance everything that is going on in your life. Now, of course, there’s going to be things that are out of our control. I’ve I’ve lost relatives and that happens suddenly. And those things will impact but if we’re doing the right things and our workplace where we spend a lot of our time is supportive around that.[00:07:00]

Then I think we can really thrive. So that’s really the message and the journey I guess I’ve had over this last decade. And I’ll just add this isn’t just the right thing to do or fluffy on the side. It’s for me personally, I think it’s, there’s enough data out there now to demonstrate there’s a really strong business case around performance and profit.

I saw a great presentation the other day that link focus on well being strategically. Actually linking to your share price. There’s some real bottom line C suite interest here now. So I think we’re seeing some great developments.

The Role of Leadership in Workplace Wellbeing

We’ve still got a long way to go and I’ll keep banging the drum until until we’re there.

I love to hear you see say that you’re seeing that change. I started in the fitness industry many years ago, and when I got into corporate, It was still on the fitness side because the private clients they were seeing on personal training were inviting us to come in and run programs for their company.

Can [00:08:00] you run a fitness class here at lunch? Can you come in and do a nutrition seminar and all these things? And I can’t count the number of nutrition seminars I did where there was pizza at the back of the room, but I won’t even go. That’s a whole other story. But what we found after doing that for about 20 years is that, Hey, great.

HR would call us all the time and say. Come in and do this particular service, but we realized the people that are attending may have loved it, but they weren’t getting, HR wasn’t getting support from the organization. The people that were taking it weren’t getting support from their leaders. And so we were basically just doing these programs in a vacuum that weren’t related to any higher level strategy.

And so it was great that, one of the best things out of COVID is the awareness around, okay. There’s a problem with workplace culture and a challenge with how leaders view wellness [00:09:00] and that’s changing the interesting thing I’ve seen, at least in Canada. I don’t know what it’s like in the other countries and you can speak to that, but.

The leaders are saying, yes, this is important, but we’re doubling down on the same programs that we’ve done in the past. We’re adding more benefits coverage. We’re doing more seminars and workshops that are not followed up with programming that’s there to deliver actual behavior change.

The Challenges of Implementing Workplace Wellbeing Strategies

What are you seeing on that?

Yeah, I think again, this is Globally, this is a conversation that’s happening. My answer to that is that the, in, in recent years, the investment levels have increased. But on the rise as well are burnout numbers and mental health condition and all everything’s going in the wrong direction, but the investment is increasing.

So my challenge to employers and I’m not saying this is easy because, we’re trying to be as supportive [00:10:00] as we can to the HR leaders within the within organizations because they’ve got a really tough. Tough job to do, but we’ve really got to focus in on impact and results now.

So those investments, why are we making those investments? Do you think that’s going to change everything by putting an app into an organization, but not actually deal with the source of the problem? And again. I love these apps. They’re scalable. You can reach a lot of people very quickly, but it’s not the silver bullet.

We really need to fix the source of the issue and have the app. So I agree. I think we’ve got to take a step back as organizations and as leaders and really think about where the issues are and what are we trying to fix here because like in any other investment in an organization, if you buy a new machine for a manufacturing plant, it’s going to be quicker.

It’s going to be more productive. You’re going to see better results. And [00:11:00] that’s why you buy that machine. So we need to apply the same. Business approach to all investments, including those well being investments and really tackle the issues. So we are seeing impact. And when we do see impact the C suite start to sit up and listen at the moment, if we’re just doing a few things around the edges.

Then it’s not going to have a business impact. So taking that strategic approach, our mission is to make wellbeing a strategic priority. And that means looking at every element of the business to really focus in on where the issues are and fixing them. I agree. Yeah. And I love the analogy of the machine the buying a machine for the business, because yeah, the way it’s being approached now is.

There’s, there are a whole bunch of fancy machines that are purchased and they’re sitting there and they look awesome, but no, one’s been trained how to use them. There, there are no systems and processes around it. It’s Ooh, look at this. This is cool. And they slap it in a marketing brochure and send it out [00:12:00] and people actually get frustrated because they’re like, wow, that looks cool.

I’d love to use it, but. My manager doesn’t support me to actually use it or, Hey, I don’t know how to use it effectively. Or I’m not allowed to use it because it’s closed in a room and all kinds of things that we see in companies every day. So what challenges do you, or I guess not what challenges, what differences do you see?

Global Perspectives on Workplace Wellbeing

Globally in the different events you do around the world. Yeah, it’s it’s probably one of the most common questions I get asked actually. And I think it’s a complex nuanced answer that I’ll have to give. So there, there are elements that I would take from the Canadian market and drop in, there are elements that are really good in UK, in Australia.

In the Middle East, even there’s some really innovative things going on around the world. I don’t think anyone, any particular region has got it. 100 percent right and we’re [00:13:00] all still on this journey. But, when I see in Canada where you are, I think there’s certainly advances around.

Focusing on early prevention a lot more going on with younger people than there are in other areas of the world. If we talk about physical health, Australia definitely leads the way it’s, sport and outdoor living is ingrained in their DNA. I think there’s elements.

Areas of the world, I think, in the UK, we’ve had governments very much focused around mental health and putting resources and investment in that. As I say, there’s, that there’s lots of good things going on around the world. I don’t think we’ve cracked it as one particular region has cracked it and got it right.

There’s some interesting learnings that we can take from each of those regions and culturally, there’s different systems as well. So if we. Talk about Asia and the Middle East is, it is different to Europe and North America. The healthcare system in the [00:14:00] UK is different to the US.

So there’s lots of local nuances that will affect the overall piece. But I think overall we’re looking and this goes for globally human focused leadership is definitely Something that we’re seeing a lot more of across the board. And I think those old skill sets that you might expect to see in leaders and the, what I would call old fashioned way of leadership.

You’re being kind. Yeah, maybe I am. But but the, but those are, I’m. Definitely starting to see those types of leaders being moved along and a new skill set required to, to lead the bashing of the desk and, expecting everyone to jump is clearly has, is not working and won’t work.

We need to have a new [00:15:00] way of leading. Organizations, and I think that’s starting to shine through now. And some of the results from I think we saw quite a lot of that during Covid. A lot of CEOs coming out, actually speaking to their teams in a more human way. And I think if we can take some of those learnings from Covid and continue that and show vulnerability and be more human in the workplace, then then I think will be a better place.

The Connection Between Wellbeing and High Performance

When that fits, that’s in line with what you said you’ve seen over the past 9 years is moving from wellness features to more of the strategy side. And in order for strategy to happen, there requires a leadership mindset leadership actions need to change. That’s hard work that a lot of companies are, hesitant to dive into.

What do you see having to have happen for that to work?[00:16:00] Often action is taken when when there’s issues, when there’s problems. And I think people. Employees have voted with their feet and change jobs if they’re in a if they’re in a toxic environment, if they don’t get it, people don’t generally leave their jobs, they leave their boss.

So if you’re seeing trends in a particular department or particular leadership team and and there’s a, there’s an exodus of talent then I don’t care who you are in terms of a leader, you’ve got to sit up and listen to that. I think we saw that happening and continuing to see that happening.

Obviously it’s slightly different now, but but. But I think people are voting with their feet. I think the younger generation are demanding more from their employer, and they’re not just looking for a job with a paycheck. They’re looking for purpose driven. They’re looking for values. They’re looking for a lot more.

I was talking to HR leader earlier this week around [00:17:00] the situation in Israel and Gaza. And, they were You know, They were expected to be commenting and speaking up as an organization and rightly if that’s the demand from the employee population now organizations have to change.

Otherwise to quote someone from Stanford University, who I spoke to about a year ago, they said, if you don’t change, you’ll be dead in 5 years. And it really is, that, that change is coming quickly. And I think I think most leaders are picking up on that. Yeah, I agree with that the nature of work has changed and what’s expected of both employees and an organization.

What you had said earlier about the strategy and the C level involvement along with just the business outcomes. I see that as one of the biggest shifts is. It’s not there yet, but it’s on the cusp of shifting where, because [00:18:00] the C suite is more aware that this is important employee wellbeing and performance is important.

The next, cog in the wheel is to have that be seen as a driver of business performance, taking care of people and really treating them well. And, setting them up for success, shifting the way leaders work with their teams. To drive performance. I still see so many leaders that are strong technical experts, but been promoted into a position of leadership and they still lead like they’re a technical expert.

And a lot of leaders need to realize that they’re in a leadership position. You’re not there to do the work anymore. You’re there to make sure your team does the work well, and you remove the barriers and the roadblocks and you. You’re the coach. Yeah, you’re not on the field. And absolutely, and that’s a shift that [00:19:00] hasn’t quite happened yet.

And pockets of amazing leadership and. Departments that are thriving because they have strong people and performance focused leadership, but I don’t think that’s the standard yet across particularly large organizations. Yeah, I agree. And also you touched on high performance there.

We, globally, we’ve got a productivity issue and and a performance issue. And there’s a lot of leaders scratching their heads going, how can we fix this? And I think wellbeing is the answer. Personally, being equals high performance. I know from personal experience. But also talking to a lot of people.

If we get this right, if we really think about this strategically across the organization. And remove those blockers and remove those obstacles to allow for high performance really empower people, give them purpose make them help them thrive. [00:20:00] That’s going to that’s going to get your high performance.

That’s going to get your productivity levels. So it really is. I believe it’s the key to to business success. Now, yeah, we’ve got some convincing to do, but there’s more and more data coming out to, to demonstrate that and the more organizations. That really take this seriously, that really think about this strategically and start to deliver some really strong results, which we’re starting to see in some parts of the world then the other leaders will be sitting up and listening because, we all want the same thing. We all want high performing health.

Lessons from the Sports World for Corporate Wellbeing

My background is in the sports side. I was an elite athlete myself and have coached elite athletes and

corporate world has so much to, that they can learn and transfer from that environment. If an athlete, no matter what their skill set is unwell and stressed out and not sleeping and not fueling their body properly, they’re not going to [00:21:00] perform on the field. If their coach is berating them every time they make a mistake or Yelling at them and, military style and we’ve, we just have to watch Ted Lasso to see the difference.

But I love that show because it shines a big spotlight on the differences and we’re seeing that in the workplace right now. Yeah, and I think, we’ve had quite a few sporting people speak actually the Ted Lasso video was in our Toronto event that you mentioned but but we’ve had quite a few sporting speakers and the one thing that comes through all the time is Rest and Recover from the sporting world.

And it’s just. It’s just not in everyday corporate speak at the moment and, the longer hours and working really hard. That’s going to get us great performance. Actually, the evidence shows otherwise. I completely agree. I think we can learn a lot from the sports world and certainly rest and recover [00:22:00] is one of the key things.

I don’t think we do enough of in our work life. Environment yeah, the, 14, 15 hour days without taking a break from the computer. People like, I’m putting in lots of hours. It’s wow, you probably put in half the hours and get. More done if you were focused and recovering properly. Yeah, absolutely.

What what do you see as. The biggest while you see, you talked about leadership being the biggest catalyst and new leaders coming in that are replacing the old school leaders. We’ll call them. What role do you see employees having in helping that shift?

The Role of Employees in Shaping Workplace Wellbeing

I think they’re doing it already. They’re far more vocal than my generation.

The younger generation and they’ve been called all sorts of names because of [00:23:00] that. I just think they’re brave and they speak up and they’re not just accepting it like we did when I first went into the workplace. I just. Get my head down and shut up and get on with it, and and this generation this younger generation are far more braver speaking up and calling out when there’s issues and calling out when there’s problems.

So I think that’s happening and and that will continue to happen. And, you look at the workplace, but the wider society.

The Role of Younger Generation in Driving Change

Younger people are driving that change. And it’s exciting to see. Yeah, I think they feel more empowered and changing things for the better.

It’s going to take time and there’ll be resistance like they’re seeing across the world, but they are driving change because certainly. The growth that we’ve seen in the conversation around mental health and being has been driven by the younger generation. And that’s amazing.

Really excited.

Regional Differences in Driving Change

And what regional differences are you [00:24:00] seeing in those areas? Are certain countries you speaking up more than others? Yeah, I think culturally again, it will depend. If you go down to a micro level, it will depend on the organization they work for. They might have to keep really quiet about or, particular subjects and can’t speak openly about it.

I think off the record we’re seeing a lot more conversations happening obviously, culturally in some of the areas where we serve, there’s real challenges, we do we do an Africa conference and and and obviously, work is everything to, to them is there’s not that as much of a job market as you might see in the U.

S. where people are moving around a lot. So there’s various challenges and nuances in, in each of these regions culturally in Asia. Yeah.

Challenges and Shifts in Workplace Norms

The culture is that you stay in the office as long as your boss does. There’s barriers to break down. [00:25:00] However, we are seeing that shift.

And and the conversations we’re having at the Asia summit is really interesting actually about challenging those norms. It’s not happening everywhere and there’s still some but we’re starting to see. Glimmers coming through that’s exciting to see that. But but certainly.

The Impact of Industry Sectors on Open Conversations

Yeah, it varies from region to region, but it also varies in in industry sectors and in particular organizations. I can think of 1 or 2 where people might not necessarily speak to openly about. Mental health or being, because it’s all about the it’s all about the profitability and driving those numbers.

There’s still stigmas in in certain. Industries and and companies. Yeah, and it’s interesting that you said that too. I had a conversation with. A group of coaches yesterday, and there was. They were talking about a fire department. And how [00:26:00] the employee relations, from the leader to to their team.

Command and Control Leadership in Traditional Companies

Particularly in those first responder type environments, it’s very commanding to control. The chief says, do this and everyone follows the directions. And when you’re going to put out a fire, I think that’s probably really important. But if you’re in the office talking about different policies and processes there, having that type of leadership makes it more challenging these days.

And in the past, it was never questioned. People just did what they were told to do. But it’s interesting to see that shift in police, firefighters, EMS military and even in law firms and insurance, typical the traditional companies that were very command and control.

The Pushback Against Traditional Work Policies

And yeah, I think what from some of the clients I’ve talked to the, we see that in Calgary and oil and gas, a lot of the.[00:27:00]

Oil and gas companies have been very traditional, and they were some of the 1st ones to go back into the office full time and mandate that people went back. And there was a lot of pushback. After cobit on that, and so when we look at.

The Ongoing Debate on Hybrid Work

Hybrid or remote work or back to office policies, what are you seeing differences around the world?

Wow, I remember when the lockdown started to slow down and and the conversation started around hybrid, someone said to me this conversation is going to go on for at least five years. And that was 18 months ago and I laughed at him at the time. Really? But I think he, he was actually right.

So we have our advisory group quarterly meetings and we’ve actually been doing them this week.

The Struggle with Return to Office and Hybrid Work

And the one thing that keeps on coming up strong across the world is we’re really struggling with this return to office [00:28:00] hybrid. How do we do this? Some companies mandating, 2 or 3 days in the office some saying fully virtual, some saying in the office 5 days a week really difficult to get this right.

And I’m afraid I can’t give. A an answer as to what is right, I guess it’s really about understand, really understanding your business.

The Importance of Understanding Employee Needs

What is the needs listening to your people, understanding their needs. I think it’s, I think is a big challenge and and one we’re going to be grappling with for a little while.

Yeah. One thing I would say is really think about. Why you’re bringing people back to the office, there’s nothing worse than, lots of people have said this, coming into the office, doing a two hour commute just to sit on teams and zoom. And, why are we doing that? I think we also need to take into account the different situations people are in.

So I’m an introvert. I love [00:29:00] working at home. I love getting my head down and doing the deep work. Whereas I know an extrovert feeds off other people being around, so they might want to be in the office a lot more. You might have caregivers, you might have parents all these other things that are going on in people’s lives.

And I just think we need to really think about that.

The Impact of Remote Work on Office Culture

The other thing that came up quite a lot in our summits are the microaggressions that certain communities would have experienced when they were. In an office environment, and actually now working from home, those microaggressions are not there.

I think it’s a really interesting thing for me. Personally, I. What we tried to do is we have a fully remote team. We’re scattered all over the place, but we do come together, obviously, for the summits when we do that, but we also come together for socials and and getting that connection time and to do creative work [00:30:00] to bounce ideas around which we’re doing in the next couple of weeks, but but actually, yeah.

Being in an office with the way our workforce is because they’re scattered everywhere. It’s quite challenging. So the connection is really important. And having that team community and belonging. So I think there’s a, fully remote is challenging to make that work. But yeah, it’s, I think it’s going to rumble on for some time.

Yeah, I agree. And you brought up a really big point that I hear all the time is the, I just spent all this time commuting to get in and I sit on teams all day anyway, because someone’s not feeling well and they’re working from home and we need to remotely connect them in. And it’s just half the team’s not there and half the team is, and I think what is missing for a lot of companies is just the flexibility.

To say, yeah, you know what work from home if you want when we come together for team meeting or [00:31:00] something like that, right? We want you to come in person if possible. There’s some of that, but I don’t think most employees mind the odd time to come in. It’s when they’re told, here’s where you need to come and then they’re resentful because they’ve got this.

They’re on teams all day anyway, they’re like, I could be sitting at home. Doing this, I have all this flexibility that I enjoy and I’m still getting, of course, you still have to get your work done, but I think that’s missing in a lot of the organizations is the flexibility and. I think I wouldn’t say Canada, I’ll say Calgary is a bit of a mix because there are some companies that are being very flexible with it.

And then other ones that are still holding the hard line and nope, everyone has to be in the office 5 days a week and they’re, it’s going to be interesting to see in a few years. How the companies that are holding that hard line manage, are they able to attract and retain [00:32:00] people? Yeah.

The Importance of Social Connection in Remote Teams

I was chatting to someone HR leader in Singapore actually recently about the return to the office.

And he said we’ve kept it very flexible, but the last Friday of every month we put on a big spread of food and drinks and social. And he said, that’s the busiest time. The offices. It’s not nothing to do with work. You’re not coming in for a meeting, you’re not coming in to do anything.

We’re just going to connect and we’re going to be social together. And he said, that’s when 100 percent of the employees come in and connect. And I’m not saying that’s right for everyone, but clearly, that sense of belonging, those relationships, those work relationships, having that connection time, but just keeping it really social.

I thought it was quite interesting and and yeah, might work for some organization is actually we’ve learned how to do a lot of things. Remote, but that social connection and that belonging. I think is still required. [00:33:00] Yeah, and the. I wouldn’t say we’ve learned how to do a lot of things. I’ve I would say we always knew it was just for.

15 years, we’ve been able to do video, remote video meetings. It was just, wasn’t the norm until COVID hit. And then everyone realized, Oh, this is not as hard as we thought. And in fact, we can get all kinds of things done that we didn’t think we could get done. And yeah it’s going to be interesting to see that.

And I think a lot of companies are still on longterm leases for their buildings. And there’s this feeling of Hey, the building’s half empty. We’re wasting this money as leases start to come up. We’re already seeing ones that have, and people are cutting their leases by a third to a half, and that’s a huge cost savings for companies.

And they can apply those dollars in other areas to help promote hybrid [00:34:00] workers, create those social connections. And, you look at companies like Atlassian software companies that are fully remote and, people always say, Oh, software is different. The tech industry is different, but really most workers are knowledge workers these days.

And unless you need to be like reception customer service service industry, there’s a lot that can be done remotely that is. Yeah, and I think the future is going to be very interesting to see how companies adapt and as more technology comes in to make even more things be able to be done remotely.

Yeah, absolutely. And we shouldn’t forget those organizations who. No I had 1 lady on 1 of our panels. There are catering companies, so they’re producing food. We can’t work remote that’s obviously the office teams can, but but the, we’re a catering company. So there are.[00:35:00]

There are circumstances where you have to be there and it also leads on. We had a couple of discussions at the Canadian summit around the 4 day working week as well. And I think that’s that’s going to really start to develop because we’re now seeing law firms, professional services adopting that.

So I think it’s I think it’s really interesting where this could go. But I think there’s There’s still a few more years of us talking about this future of work, because I think we’re still trying to figure it out. And the pace of change has ramped up dramatically. And we’re still seeing a lot of downstream impacts from these changes that have happened over the past few years.

I know. In Calgary, the downtown core has been decimated the, there are still, there are a lot more people in downtown now, but. The way people are interacting with [00:36:00] downtown is very different. A lot of the service industries are struggling because when people do come in, they’re coming in earlier than normal.

They’re leaving earlier than they would in the past. Rush hour has changed. The traffic patterns have changed and people are in the office less days per week. And the, some of the restaurants and bars are still doing fine. But when we look at the more ancillary services the dry cleaners and the things like that, that are normally doing bustling business because everyone’s downtown, that, that industry is shifted.

I wasn’t in from the fitness center side we managed corporate fitness centers as one arm of our business. And that has changed dramatically because people aren’t in them as often. They’re working from working out from home or in the suburbs. And so when they do come into downtown, they’re not taking advantage of those.

Services that they had in the past. So that’s a downstream impact. That’s affecting so many different industries. [00:37:00]

The Impact of AI on Workplaces

And we haven’t even touched on AI. Exactly. That’s for the next podcast. Cause that’s a whole new, Again, this is, these are conversations that are happening at the moment with our advisory group, but there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of shift happening.

And I think there’s a lot of fear in there as well. And I think we need to really challenge that fear and look at the positives that come out of that, because that’s, that could really accelerate being and scaling. Being far more effectively and I think there’s some really interesting things coming.

Yeah, I’m excited by that. That’s on the, in the pipeline of podcasts is the impact of AI on workplaces. So yes, I’d love to hear your insights on that. We’d give you a call on the next one. So we’ve talked about lots of different things and I appreciate you sharing your insights.

The Role of Leadership in Accelerating Change

[00:38:00] What would you say is the, if we’re looking at the wellbeing, mental and physical health, as well as the organizational strategy what’s the number one thing or your top two things that leaders in organizations can do to.

Accelerate that change process. Yeah, I think I think we need to stop tinkering around the edges in organizations and thinking that, a handful of smaller things are going to change the results. And I think that’s where we’ve been. We’ve almost got stuck in that since covid.

I think. There are organizations that are looking at this really strategically just simple things like the onboarding process. What are we doing around that particular area of an organization? Because if you get that right in the first 6 or 8 weeks of someone’s employment they are going to really thrive [00:39:00] and really flourish and.

We’re still getting so many things wrong just in that small process there but we can look across the organization and think holistically. Leaders, I think, need to upskill emotional intelligence vulnerability is a strength getting that message across and there’s some great leaders demonstrating that, and people will connect to that. And I think also purpose finding that purpose of an organization, but finding, allowing employees to find their purpose and linking that because there’s so much data again around. Once you find your purpose, the performance really excels. And so if those values and purpose are really strong within an organization and an employee can connect to those.

And find their own link, then then again, they can really flourish. But yeah, they’re big things and not easy to do, but but yeah, I think[00:40:00] really. It all hangs off leadership and and these are the sort of areas that I think leaders should be focused on. And I love that.

And so what I’m hearing is basically

see the organization and all aspects of the organization, including leadership, operations and every other division through the lens of. Improving the performance of people, whether it’s the onboarding process or the reporting structure, or how performance feedback is given all these things that companies are already doing.

But to do those things through the lens of well, being of well, being as the outcome, not wellness as a tactic. And so when, I agree with you, when leadership can put that lens on and then reassess the entire organization through that lens, change [00:41:00] will happen. Simple as that, right? Done. Done. Yeah. It’ll take 10 minutes.

Exactly. Why isn’t everyone doing it? Yeah, it’s it’s, it’s hard. And I say this at all of our events and all communications that I have. This is not easy. Great performance and great organizations are not easy to it’s not easy to be a successful business. So we need to tackle some of these tough things because the, the evidence is there that it will improve performance.

It will improve the bottom line. It will deliver all of the things that the C suite one. And more plus it’s the right thing to do. We want happy, healthy. People don’t we otherwise we’re just gonna have a society where people are so stressed out. They’re so burnt out. They’re not happy.

And someone said something to me the other day. I can’t [00:42:00] remember.

The Ripple Effect of Workplace Stress on Society

I’d have to paraphrase because I can’t remember the exact thing, but the impact of what the workplace has on wider society is huge. If you have a bad day at work, you come back. You might take it out on your family, you might not have time for your kids, whatever it might be, but the impact and the ripple effect of that.

And I’ve never really thought of that in any great detail before because we’re. We’re so focused on the workplace, but actually the wider society issues that, that can be born out of stress from the workplace is really important. So yeah, but all of the reasons we’ve talked about as to why businesses should do it, but actually what sort of society do we want to live in?

If you come out skipping out of your job, really happy, desperate for Monday morning really excited about your week ahead. Then you’re going to be a better father or better mother. You’re going to be a better friend. You’re going to be a better person in society. And the ripple effect of [00:43:00] that is huge.

I agree. And yeah, that’s, you’ve just summed up why I got into the corporate world after seeing so many private clients on the coaching side, just being miserable. It’s there’s gotta be a better way. Thank you.

The Future of Work and Corporate Events

Thank you so much, Chris. When’s your next event? Where, and where is it? We’re in our next one is is Africa, then over to Australia.

So yeah, fair bit of traveling. We’re right in the middle of event season at the moment, which is exciting. But Canada is definitely one of my favorites, so I’m really looking forward to coming back there next year and and seeing that develop. I really appreciate the invitation.

Tim, it was great to chat to you and thank you for being part of the Calgary summit and looking forward to what’s next. Me too. And I’m an avid traveler, so I’ll have to try and I spent a year in Australia and a little bit of time in Africa. So I might have to go visit one of those Absolutely.

You’re always welcome. [00:44:00] Excellent. Thank you so much, Chris. We will chat with you very soon and I’ll see you for sure again at the next Calgary event. Take care.

Conclusion and Contact Information

Oh, and before we go where can where can people find you? Oh on LinkedIn Chris Cummings or our website is wellbeingatwork.

world. Excellent. I will put those on the show notes and so everyone can find you and go visit you at the summit. Fabulous. Thank you. That wraps up another episode of the Working Well Podcast. If you enjoyed the show, please rate, review, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Which guests or topics would you like to see featured on the show?

Message me through LinkedIn or on the contact page of timboris. com. Thank you for tuning in. I’m Tim Borris with Fresh Group. And look forward to seeing you on the next episode.

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