International Wellbeing Insights is the research and consultancy arm of The Stress Management Society. They work with a wide range of organizations to create an evidence-based culture of wellbeing that drives performance, attracts the best talent, and minimizes the risks of work-related stress. What does this consultancy and Simon-Kucher have in common? Our passionate approach to recognizing and reducing stress, improving mental health, and promoting wellbeing among employees. We interviewed Duncan Rzysko, Chief of Creativity, Happiness & Innovation at International Wellbeing Insights, to talk about this common goal.
Duncan, your role as Chief of Creativity, Happiness & Innovation at International Wellbeing Insights is focused on improving mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Why is this such an important topic for employers?
I prefer to reference the data: the Labour Force Survey 2020 indicates (other data sets are available) that stress, anxiety and depression account for 51% of all work-related ill health cases and 55% of all working days lost due to work-related ill health. That’s a huge statistic to ignore – stress, wellbeing and health are human conditions made of many psycho-social and environmental factors that can be identified, mitigated, and predicted ahead of time.
I could also ask the reverse question: why is it not important to address the topic of wellbeing in the workplace? Let’s say it isn’t important and we choose to ignore it – it’s like having a rat in the house: it’s there, you could pretend it isn’t, argue that it’s not really a rat, that this rat isn’t as bad as the rats in your day and the current generation don’t know how easy they have it - BUT that will invite its friends, it will do damage to your house, breed, and then no-one will want to live in your house and you might even leave too!
Have you seen this importance increase during the pandemic? What kind of challenges might employers and employees be facing right now?
Yes, certainly in the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic many organizations were concerned about the immediate shock value of the coronavirus response and the impact of people being at home and away from their “normal” lives and daily rituals. There was a focus on “How are we going to do this?”, “Will we have a job/a business?”, “How do I cope now that my usual strategies are unavailable due to lockdown?” and real fear around the safety of family, friends, and colleagues.
Around 2-3 months in, most started to look at what a return to work would look like and how it would work in practice. The pandemic has changed styles of work and enforced agile working arrangements – it is very unlikely that people are going to accept going back to the pattern we had pre-pandemic. On the whole, people want the ability to choose and adopt a hybrid approach between the home and workplace – it’s mainly looking like 3 days at home, 2 days in the workplace for office-based industries.
What kind of work have you been doing with Simon-Kucher?
We conducted a wellbeing audit alongside your employee survey in 2018 for 32 office locations in 28 countries and provided recommendations. We have recently been delivering a series of online workshops around stress, burnout, prioritization, positive influence, and ‘What if… thinking’. We are also about to launch manager sessions that will focus on proactive measures and good practice with regard to duty of care and wellbeing.
What are your impressions of Simon-Kucher as a workplace so far? What have you learned about our corporate culture?
It seems to be a culture of excellence, high achievement, and clearly with some very talented people in both consulting roles and central functions. The fact that you’re having a discussion about wellbeing in the workplace, this is part of the zeitgeist and is on the agenda – is a very good sign.