Umbrella Wellbeing

Nominee/entrant details

Umbrella Wellbeing

Organisation details

Size: 6-19 staff

Industry: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services

Organisation background

Umbrella is a wellbeing consultancy. We partner with businesses and government departments in Aotearoa New Zealand to build cultures of wellbeing. We help our customers get the greatest return on investment by providing tools and resources that foster a proactive healthy workplace culture, rather than just treating symptoms after they arise. We use best-practice scientific research to promote mental health, strengthen resilience and create psychologically safe workplaces, leading to higher performance and better business outcomes. We provide professional support to meet organisations’ needs: personalised customer engagement, expert facilitation, all supported by our team of registered psychologists and professional administrative team.

Executive summary

Historically, employers’ approaches to building mental health at work have been ad-hoc and piecemeal. We are now in an era where proactive and evidence-based wellbeing support for employees is required, not just a nice-to-have. And, to do it right, organisations need a clear purpose, good data and an informed strategy. The challenge is: how do employers really know how their employees are doing? Moreover, how do they know what actions to take to ensure that they shift the wellbeing dial in the right direction? Umbrella Wellbeing has been helping organisations to meet this challenge for the last 10+ years.

Background on situation and opportunity

Over 20% of New Zealanders in any 12-month period will experience a mental illness and 47% of people will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives. Evidence suggests that the cost of mental illness-related presenteeism (not performing at full capacity) is up to 4x the annual cost of absenteeism for employers. Managing employee mental health and wellbeing is a legal obligation, a business necessity, and for many businesses, a moral imperative. Whilst businesses are usually well equipped to manage physical health and safety, helping their people navigate mental health challenges and proactively manage workplace wellbeing can be a real challenge. In order to manage wellbeing and mental health, organisations need new tools and skills, and a business case for investing in them.


At Umbrella we want to make organisational wellbeing easy. Our strategy is to partner with organisations to create long lasting relationships, providing wellbeing support at all levels: for individuals, teams, and across organisational leadership. We support organisations to proactively foster mental health, wellbeing, and healthy habit formation in the workplace through offering: * Strategic wellbeing planning - we work with organisations to develop or inform their wellbeing strategy and strategic plan. * Strategic measurement and intervention - we use our Wellbeing Assessment to provide a measurement and intervention framework, so organisations know where to invest resources and can measure the impact of their investment over time. * People training and skills development - we share our knowledge of mental health and wellbeing in engaging and practical workshops and overview sessions to equip people with the tools they need. * Thought leadership - we work with organisations to provide organisational advice based on contemporary research on how to be more proactive in helping their people to thrive. * Support to organisations in navigating change and uncertain times. Research shows a clear link between employee wellbeing, engagement, creativity, talent retention and productivity. We help our customers put this research into practice for happier people and undeniable business results. Our Research and Development team stays on top of recent health and wellbeing publications and contributes to academic knowledge. Many leaders want data to back their employee wellbeing decisions. We engage with our customers on an organisational level using the Umbrella Wellbeing Assessment to provide comprehensive and reliable data. This informs their wellbeing strategy and provides insight into how their people are doing. We also bring our cross-industry knowledge and expertise to wellbeing issues that are unique to some roles and workplaces, such as offering de-escalation training for those who regularly interact with customers where emotions run high, commonly call centre staff.


Using our Wellbeing Assessment — designed, run and analysed by clinical and PhD research psychologists — we have helped over 30 organisations and more than 6000 employees across New Zealand assess, track and proactively build mental health and wellbeing. We provide individual wellbeing reports and resources for each employee with access to an interactive dashboard. The wellbeing report articulates the unique wellbeing opportunities for the organisation and enables leaders to both target and measure outcomes for their wellbeing investment. After the assessment, we support workplaces to build confidence and capability in three key areas of wellbeing through our training and development: • Resilience – Umbrella's resilience offerings are focused on equipping team members and leaders with the tools to cope with the ups and downs that life brings. • Mental health – Umbrella’s mental health workshops help people to be more aware of and responsive to mental health needs at work, and more willing to have conversations about mental health. • Psychological safety – Umbrella's approach to fostering high performing teams is based on cultivating psychological safety. While all people in a team have a part to play in creating a culture of high performance, leaders play a crucial role in setting the tone and the conditions for psychological safety. Our workshops give leaders greater clarity on the behaviours which help and hinder in building a high performing team culture, and practical skills to put into action immediately. We ensure organisations understand the relationship between workplace wellbeing and productivity (, and the value of proactive and strategic investment in improving their peoples' skills, confidence and knowledge of mental health and wellbeing. Our team members are often sought out by the New Zealand media (e.g., Listener, North & South magazine,, as thought leaders on the topics of mental health and wellbeing.

Engagement and communication

We regularly engage with New Zealand and international community on LinkedIn as one of our primary professional networks, where we are an active contributor to the local and international leadership community. We share our scientific insights and learnings in an approachable way, giving practical suggestions on how to apply them in the workplace to support people's wellbeing. We share evidence-based content through our communication channels, such as newsletters and articles to over 5500 subscribers. Participants of the Umbrella Wellbeing Assessment receive personalised information and resources to support them in addressing areas of challenge or concern. They have access to over 100 resources in this library. Leaders receive organisational wellbeing reports with suggestions from registered psychologists. To engage participants in our programmes and help them develop skills and strategies to improve wellbeing – we provide them with the evidence-based interactive content. We offer a range of resources including workbooks, published literature and access to our resource library. After Resilience workshops, we invite people to sign up for our weekly Resilience reminder emails with practical strategies. We also support individuals with action planning to help implement and apply the skills in life and work. As a follow up to our training workshops, we assist organisations with targeted analysis and feedback to senior teams, including participant feedback and psychologist evaluation. This helps ensure any organisational factors which are significantly contributing to poor employee wellbeing are identified, as well as recommended organisational interventions which can make the most difference (impact) to improving employee wellbeing. Our feedback also reflects relevant social and environmental changes, for example the impact of COVID-19.


*** People *** Our resilience workshops positively impact participants' work and personal lives. They report: "Excellent techniques which I will use in my personal life as well as in my career." "I really enjoyed the session which has enlightened me and given me tools to help me personally." For the period of April 2020 to June 2021, we analysed feedback from 1217 workshops participants across 42 organisations: * 1203 people reported that they gained knowledge and skills which will support them to manage stress, and mental illness in others; * 1196 people recognised that gained knowledge and skills will be valuable for their work. *** Processes / culture *** After 12 months of working with Umbrella (delivered Mental Health workshops and Wellbeing Assessment) one organisation showed statistically significant improvements: people felt more supported to lead a healthy lifestyle, psychological wellbeing of staff was a greater priority, there were better development opportunities, and their workplace had a better shared vision and positive outlook. *** Capabilities / business outcomes *** When New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) decided to prioritise wellbeing and mental health under their new strategy, they approached our team to pilot different training options. NZTE's Director of People & Capability said Umbrella was the obvious partner: “We chose Umbrella because its specialist expertise is organisational mental health within a corporate environment. Umbrella is focused on working alongside us to embed, integrate and bring to life managing mental health at work in a way that uniquely suits our organisation.” As a result, NZTE’s Lead Team confirmed an implementation plan to continue building their people’s capability with both self-serve resources and training options. *** Scalable / sustainable *** We lead a national conversation about workplace wellbeing and mental health via: - research: - conferences: - publications and journals: We often support NFP organisations.


Our facilitators who deliver training to our clients are registered practitioners under the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act (2003) and undergo training and professional development in cultural competence. They are required to report yearly on their development (through the Continuing Competence Programme). This includes working with diversity groups and vulnerable people. There is a particular focus on Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Te Ao Māori in this training. This knowledge forms the foundations to our approach with clients and acknowledges the impact of biases (both conscious and unconscious) on wellbeing in the workplace. In our mental health workshops, we frequently draw on Sir Mason Durie’s model of holistic health (Te Whare Tapa Whā) and link this to other frameworks and practical strategies. Internally at Umbrella, we have a culture of flexible working. This ranges from working reduced hours, flexible location, and flexible work hours. This is supported by policy and promotes a greater sense of autonomy for our team. It also supports women who are returning to work post-partum, and parents who are looking for greater work/life flexibility. This enables our people to connect with customers and model how flexible work promotes gender equality and better engagement. We seek to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of peoples within New Zealand through raising awareness within our own organisation about events or dates significance. Examples of this include discussions within the team about Matariki, Ramadan, and the development of our diversity and inclusion calendar to inform our communication.

Innovation and creativity

We are continually innovating and have invested heavily in a digital wellbeing platform with significant back-end capability. This forms a solid foundation for future development and is customisable to each organisation we work with. Our engaging platform is centred on the science of habit-formation, which allows us to continue our evidence-based approach to delivering information and interventions. This platform solution is currently available for commercial use on Desktop (hosting our Wellbeing Assessment, Wellbeing Pulse, and Knowledge Library) and has been used extensively in New Zealand and internationally. We are also excited to share that we currently have a pre-release app available on iOS and Android that is soon to be released in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Our psychologist-led ‘human’ services (workshops, enhanced EAP, coaching and consulting) are also set to become fully integrated with our digital wellbeing platform and app in the coming months. In addition to these innovations, Umbrella continues to operate at the forefront of the workplace mental health market in Aotearoa New Zealand through delivery of its comprehensive assessment tool — the Umbrella Wellbeing Assessment. The tool provides: * Organisational insight (Comprehensive wellbeing assessment, reports, and interactive dashboards to direct future wellbeing initiatives and monitor progress); and * Individual support (Personalised wellbeing reports and expert resources for each employee). We draw on the science of wellbeing in all of our work, translating this into engaging, accessible and interactive content to share with our workshop participants and the organisations we work with. We are constantly identifying new and creative ways that we can deliver this information to make it both fun and most likely to connect with the people who need it.

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Referee details

Lance Goodall, Head of Health, Safety and Wellbeing (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment)

021894698 • [email protected]

Key contact

Svetlana Elfimova, Marketing Lead (Umbrella Wellbeing)

0212256527 • [email protected]

6 Months
Since posted
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Ministry of Health
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SparkThe Warehouse Group
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Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
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