Lauren Parsons Wellbeing


Nominee/entrant details

Lauren Parsons Wellbeing


Organisation details

Size: self-employed staff

Industry: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services


Organisation background

Lauren Parsons Wellbeing offers workplace wellbeing consulting focused on helping organisations create a positive, energised team culture, where people can thrive physically & mentally. With 21 years’ experience, previously a lecturer at the NZ College of Fitness, Lauren blends this physical health background with her Life Coaching qualifications and business degree / postgrad in HR. Using positive psychology & a holistic approach she helps people boost both health and happiness. TEDx Speaker, Author, founder of the Snack on Exercise movement and host of the Thrive TV Show. Lauren is based in the Manawatu and works with clients throughout New Zealand.


Executive summary

More than ever, workplaces need to address mental health – not just to benefit individuals but also their organisations and NZ society as a whole. After many years of delivering workshops I’ve discovered that while they inspire those who attend, they don’t often create lasting change. That requires a holistic approach and spaced repetition. In 2020 I launched the Thrive Partnership Programme which combines a leadership focused approach with gathering real data, and a combination of in person PD with ongoing inspiration/education via micro-learning. The heart of this programme is created lasting positive habit change/culture change and seeing people thrive.


Background on situation and opportunity

The Thrive Partnership Programme has been offered to over 1200 people in four organisations; government department, tertiary education, marketing firm and education firm. Common challenges included: * exhuasted/burnt-out staff * staff reporting high stress * high workloads, especially post-covid * personal challenges affecting normally high-performing staff * disconnected / silo'd staff * increased absenteeism * lack of skills responding to mental distress Some also reported * leaders feeling depleted * low trust/psychological safety * huge change process causing uncertainty * several new staff hires * staff feeling undervalued * lack of leadership focus on wellbeing "we're just starting the journey"


Strategy

Overall the strategy was to deliver positive and practical education/inspiration that people can use day to day to improve their mental health and wellbeing. To build the fence at the top rather than the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. We provided wrap-around support using different mediums, tapping into different learning styles, and create maximum engagement. We started with a check-in survey to gather baseline data. Alongside three qualitative questions, likert scale questions were used to self-assess wellbeing. It also asked staff for their preferred training topics, and invited people to indicate if they wanted immediate assistance (from their manager/EAP), which on average 7.6% of respondents requested. We then delivered leadership training to set the scene right from the outset and ensure senior leaders were on board, understanding their impact. We focused on skills to build trust/psychological safety. The survey data and collaborative interactions with the leadership teams allowed us to plan out the delivery the rest of the content. Lauren met monthly with the key contacts from each organisation to discuss strategy and progress. We also connected these leaders in collective mastermind meetings to share ideas and collaborate. These generated great discussions, strategies to best engage staff with the weekly content, and became critical to the programme's success as they kept leaders connected and supported. A key part of the strategy was sending weekly content with a micro-learning approach (e.g. 2-min videos, 1-page info sheets, quotes, recipes, and mini-challenges.) Staff could also access a beautifully laid out online content library from any device at any time, meaning they could get mental wellbeing support whenever they needed it. Six-weekly Q&A zoom sessions (designed like a virtual chat with Lauren over a cuppa), meant staff could ask any question they wanted (in advance anonymously or privately in the chat.) 


Execution

Surveys were administered via Survey Legend allowing for ease of completion via any device and had a 92% completion rate (aided by a $100 prezzy card incentive.) In-person Leadership Development sessions focused on the importance of mental wellbeing, what leaders are demonstrating, encouraging, recognising and tolerating, the ALGEE process to respond to mental distress, effective one-on-ones, the 5-Live Well Principles, and the critical skill of immediate praise to guide positive change. Most clients also used the Emotional Culture Deck and were given a working knowledge of how to use this with their teams. - Lauren’s session was inspirational and actionable. – Linus Hjoberg - Such a great session focusing on yourself and your teams around wellbeing & leadership. The personal wellbeing assessment was great. – Anon - Very engaging and thought-provoking session – David Harrop, Full staff in-person workshops, covered the most popular topics staff chose: - Boosting Resilience, - Improving Mindset, - Dealing with Stress and Anxiety, - Overcoming Overwhelm. These focused on mental health from a proactive angle, as well as providing tools to cope when facing mental distress. - Such an inspiring and achievable session. Lauren has amazing knowledge and energy! – Kaitlin Kearins - Lauren was so positive, her session was thought-provoking and easy to understand. - Emma Curry - What an inspirational session! Lauren makes you think about what you can do now and what you can do to change. - Lisa Oldfield Weekly content was sent on Monday mornings ready to forward to all staff, laid out to be visually appealing with concise text and images. For larger organisations where all-staff weekly messaging wasn't available, staff could opt-in to receive these updates or monthly summaries were sent. All updates encouraged staff to visit the online library whenever it suited them. Regular key contact meetings allowed Lauren to constantly receive feedback/provide support - creating a close, reciprocal relationship.


Engagement and communication

Ongoing communication was critical to the programme's success. Rather than just offering workshops, (which get people fired up but seldom create lasting change on their own) the power of this programme is in the spaced repetition of ideas and the engaging delivery. Building a positive Mental Health culture and changing habits requires several nudges and ongoing accountability, which is why the combination of in-person and online connection points is so vital. Weekly emails were designed with a co-ordinated 12-month approach. Each month included 2-3 Live Well Principles, plus 2-3 quick tip videos (ranging from 57seconds to 3mins12 in length.) Alongside this, upcoming Q&A sessions or mini-challenges were highlighted, and every message closed with an inspiring quote image. These were posted onto private team Facebook groups – which created great staff interaction/commenting. Rather than being digital only, Lauren also provided clearfolders sufficient for the number of staff rooms of each organisation. The one-page info sheets were printed as they came out and displayed on staffroom noticeboards. As new issues are released, the previous ones were stored in the clearfolder - creating an ever-evolving mental health resource folder to flick back through, on staffroom coffee tables. The mastermind group generated practical ideas – such as using the one-page pdf’s as a ‘book study’ style chat in team meetings, highlighting content as news on the staff portal, and encouraging leaders to share vulnerable stories. Mini-challenges were offered with different themes (some team-based to get less naturally inclined staff to participate), equipping the key contacts with all the resources they needed. Lauren received this response from the key contact at The Treasury – “Oh I love this, thank you Lauren! This is exactly what I needed right now – it’s simple, everything has been done for me and it will keep the momentum going 😊”


Impact

It’s been fantastic connecting with staff in-person multiple times and hearing from people in person how much better they’re feeling, or how the action they’ve taken has transformed their mental health. The data showed significant results: Check-in surveys showed positive shifts in the percentage of people who self-rated as a 7 or higher out of 10: - 17.2% improvement in Mental and Emotional Wellbeing (from 35.4% to 52.6%) - 10.1% improvement in Physical Wellbeing (from 40.5% to 50.6%) - 5.7% improvement in Connection with Colleagues (from 63.6% to 69.3%) - 9.2% improvement in Sense of Purpose and Fulfilment (from 58.4% to 67.6%) - 8.9% improvement in Work Life Balance (from 41.7% to 50.6%) Over 4 months we also saw: - 12% improvement to “Workplace Culture Supports My Wellbeing” (from 64% to 76% agreed) - 20% improvement to “In a typical week I feel stressed at work” (down from 49% to just 29% saying often/very often) - 12% improvement to “In a typical week I feel stressed at work” (down from 32% to 20% often/very often) Key contacts have said what a difference the programme has made for their mental wellbeing personally as leaders. The one-on-one support and the group masterminds were great ways to feel highly connected and supported individually, and also created a ‘team’ feeling across the different organisations. Specifically organisations have integrated processes such as: - Including thrive content in new staff inductions - Leaders sharing vulnerable personal stories, opening conversations - Leaders being equipped with ALGEE process to respond to mental distress - People-focused one-on-ones with leaders - Creating new systems to increase staff recognition/appreciation - Starting meetings intentionally using positive psychology tools such as; checking-in with each person/using play/sharing learnings/using mindfulness - Displaying updated vision, values, feelings and leaders integrating these in policy - Some teams created their own defined team culture - Rewarding participation in mini-challenges - Staff brainstorming ideas to boost connection


Inclusion

Viewing life and leadership through a bi-cultural lens here in Aotearoa New Zealand is important to Lauren. She starts every presentation/meeting with a karakia and shares her mihi. She aims to demonstrate a respect for tikanga and te ao Māori in day to day practises. Te Whare Tapa Whā, the Maori health model which was developed by Sir Mason Durie, is integrated into all Leadership Development sessions. It is also included in many of the team sessions as a key concept to understand one’s own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others and the need for a holistic approach. Lauren’s Live Well Principles overlap and sit perfectly alongside this model. Four of the key survey questions align with Te Whare Tapa Whā's four walls: • My mental and emotional wellbeing is (hinengaro) • My physical wellbeing is (tinana) • My connection with my colleagues is (whanau) • My overall sense of purpose and fulfilment is (wairua) Having lived and worked in several countries and being fully fluent in French, Lauren has a deep understanding of integrating into new cultures and an awareness of the need to be inclusive of everyone, including different cultures/beliefs/neurodiversity in the way she interacts. She teaches leaders to be mindful of how they open/close meetings – for example to begin with waiata or karakia, taking a collective deep breath, or having each person share one word describing how they’re feeling or a 20-second story on where they’re at, before moving into ‘business as usual’. These practises help to build connections and strengthen relationships which are critical not just to individual mental health, but also collective wellbeing and team culture. The programme content also highlights national events like Pink Shirt Day, Matariki, Chinese New Year, Volunteering Week, Mental Health Awareness Week, suggesting ways to participate in these.


Innovation and creativity

Digital Meets in Person Rather than being solely digital or solely in-person, the unique blend of both digital communications together with live workshops with Lauren, meant that people got so much more from both parts of the programme. No Longer Lost in the Crowd Staff being able to connect with Lauren directly and have their individual mental health questions answered (anonymously if they wished) in the honest, open Q&A chats created a strong connection between participants and Lauren herself, something that isn’t always possible when speaking to a large group. Appealing, Easy-to-Digest Learning Micro-learning was key. Well suited to people’s diminishing attention-spans. Concise messages, aesthetically pleasing layout and 1-2 minute videos, which used story-telling techniques to engage viewers helped ensure that the information stuck. Fostering Community The mastermind sessions between the key leaders from each organisation provided a safe space for them to share, debrief, and be real – improving their personal mental health, while sharing ideas to benefit their teams. Fun and laughter was a must at these sessions as was open, authentic sharing. Vulnerability was held up as a key leadership quality. Fun & Playfulness Embraced You can guarantee Lauren’s sessions won’t be boring lectures. Games, interactive activities and mobilisers are used throughout to ensure that people are ‘laughing and learning.’ Mental health can be a heavy-going topic, but it doesn’t need to be. Lauren demonstrates positive psychology interventions in the way she shares. Off the Page Into Real Life Staff were encouraged to interact with the content in fun ways. Things like the smoothie challenge (supplying the ingredients), brainstorming and defining their desired workplace feelings and taking part in team mini-challenges brought people together and created opportunities for connection – which is key to mental wellbeing.


Supporting materials (optional)


Photograph of key staff (optional)


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Referee details

Jane Warnock, Educational Leader (Tui Early Learners)

027 714 7077 • [email protected]


Key contact

Lauren Parsons, Owner & Wellbeing Specialist (Lauren Parsons Wellbeing)

021348661 • [email protected]

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