Key takeaways from our webinar on Wellbeing in the context of Covid-19

A summary of the key takeaways from our webinar on Wellbeing in the context of Covid-19
Published: June 15 2020

1st June 2020

On Friday 29th May 2020, Circal brought together Gethin Nadin, Director of Employee Wellbeing at Benefex and author of ‘A Word of Good’, Jason Fowler, VP, HR Director, UK & Ireland & Head of HR Northern & Western Europe at Fujitsu Global, and Anita Mullen, Senior Consultant at HABTIC, for a Webinar to discuss #Wellbeing in the context of Covid-19.

Hosted by Kevin Green, HR Expert and best-selling author of ‘Competitive People Strategy’, discussion points ranged from how well organisations have dealt with lockdown to what the world of work will look like as the economy transitions into the next phase. Enjoy the highlights below, and you can see a recording of the webinar here:



Key Takeaways:

  • Gethin Nadin: “Wellness needs to be a key part of the business strategy, and needs board level Executive sponsorship”
  • Anita Mullen: “Companies need to provide scalable, personalised support like coaching to everyone”
  • Jason Fowler: “The old status quo of most people being in the office vs working from home should be inverted, according to the needs of the business and the personal circumstances of the workforce”
  • Kevin Green: “We have more HR data than ever before, we need to ensure we analyse it effectively and compassionately”

We’d love to hear from you on:

  • What do you think of what the panellists said, and how has your business dealt with the lockdown?
  • Are you giving people the option to work from home post lockdown, or do you need them in the office?
  • What support are you giving managers to ensure they have the skills to motivate remote teams?
  • How are you using data to measure productivity? And how do you ensure employees do not feel under pressure from data use?
  • Does Wellness have Executive sponsorship in your business, and do you think that is necessary?

How have organisations dealt with lockdown?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the panel felt that companies who were already committed to wellbeing had done better than those to whom wellbeing was treated as more of a buzzword. As Gethin said, “Companies have realised that they need people’s goodwill, so have made more of an effort”.

Anita agrees, and made the point that it’s crucial for companies to ensure the health of the people and the business is taken care of.

Circal says: How has your business handled lockdown? We’ve all seen good and bad examples of corporate behaviour. Will customers punish organisations that laid off staff rather than furlough them, or will people forget who treated their employees badly and who made sure their people were looked after?

While organisations have communicated well, is there a danger that some will feel this is a short-term response to a crisis?

Anita feels that companies need to find solutions for providing scalable, personalised support like coaching for all. Jason made the point that organisations have found it easier to address wellbeing than normal, as usually wellbeing is seen as only affecting a small amount of people. After this experience, it needs to go mainstream. Fujitsu have championed initiatives like putting 1 week of carers leave in place for all employees, and providing information and practical support for managers, including having a named HR contact rather than a faceless HR response. Gethin has seen engagement scores increase during this time, because people feel that their business cares about them.

Circal says: The main challenge for businesses as we exit lockdown is how to ensure that good communication becomes the norm. Employees who feel cared for will feel more engaged, and better engagement leads to be better customer service and ultimately higher profits, as has been proven by studies into the Service Profit Chain effect. How do you plan to keep up the good work on HR communications?

How are companies planning to transition employees back to work?

Gethin heard from a large facilities management group that only 20% of people are expected to return to the workplace in the short term. He feels employees need to be asked if they want to return, rather than being ordered back. Jason agrees, and says that is exactly what Fujitsu are doing. He makes the point that everyone has different circumstances; while some are anxious about returning, others are desperate to get back. Fujitsu have been carrying out ‘at-home’ workstation assessments, and providing funding for employees to improve their at home work environments.

Circal says: Is working from home going to become the default going forward? How can companies support employees to be at their best, and foster a team rather than isolationist culture? Fujitsu seem to be taking a lead in this area, what other examples have people seen?

How can HR make sure Wellness stays high on the Corporate Agenda?

Anita doubles down on coaching, it’s so important to make sure that people have the skills they need to manage their teams effectively. We need to be asking people what they have changed about how they are working, what has worked well, and how can we support you with what hasn’t. According to Gethin, studies have shown that for every £1 spent on Wellbeing, companies get £5 back in terms of reduced attrition and absence, increased productivity and higher engagement.

Circal says: There is an opportunity here to take a bad situation and make sure what we learn from it improves life for everyone going forward. That can mean anything from improving communication and raising wellness up the corporate agenda, to changing the way products and services are delivered and ultimately consumed. McDonalds in the US have largely weathered the storm because their business is 70% drive through over there, and they have spent the last 2 years investing in that area ( Will we see them ‘drive through’ a shift to that model in Europe now? How is your business changing the way you do things?

We have more data than we’ve ever had before. How can we analyse it effectively and compassionately?

Jason says Fujitsu are looking at lots of different sources of data, such as absence rates, number of grievances, attrition rates and whether people would recommend Fujitsu as a good place to work. They’re doing this not just at a company but also at department level, so they can identify localised issues and offer a targeted response where they need to. They also plan to invest more in wellbeing going forward. He makes the point that it’s important to be sensitive about how you use data, citing the example from Target in the US where the company knew a teenage girl was pregnant before her father did (!

In terms of financial wellbeing, Gethin says that the UK is one of worst placed countries in Europe to withstand the coming economic crisis, with 50% of people having less than £100 spare in their accounts ( He thinks we need to destigmatise talking about debt in the same way that we have done for mental health. Companies can also help by providing a place where employees can get useful and trusted financial information.

Circal says: There’s some fantastic examples here of things businesses can do to use data with sensitivity and have meaningful and measurable impacts on the organisation. A recent Kantar Worldwide study asked if Brands needed to change their tactics in the wake of Covid-19, and it found that 50% of consumers wanted to see how a company treated its employees ( Tell us what you are doing in your business, so we can share the good ideas around.

About Circal

Circal is currently free to join and use, sign up by clicking on the embedded link or go to Select ‘I have a code’ and enter WFH20 to get Circal for free.

The concept of Circal began in a workshop session with HRDs discussing their challenges. There were several common themes.

  • Keeping up with the latest thinking is hard when the industry is changing so fast.
  • Always running between meetings, they don't have the time to research themselves.
  • Constant bombardment of sales messages disguised as 'reports' or 'research' is making it harder to decipher real thinking.
  • The most effective way to solve problems is to speak to other HRDs with the same problems, but it’s hard to build external networks of HRDs and subject matter experts.

Fast forward a very busy year and we are proud to introduce Circal, the first application built to solve these challenges and provide a better way of understanding, digesting, sharing and building your knowledge and network.

About Habtic

Crafted from science, sharpened by technology, and driven by vision, Habtic is a new breed of service. We built the system you need to sponsor best-in-class tools for the well-being of both your employees and company, and it's always on. Always available, personal and at scale like nothing you've seen. If you are keen to improve both the organisational & individual wellbeing of your employees and would be interested in exploring this further please contact