With a global pandemic forcing every one of us into various forms of isolation, the need for preventative measures in the ‘workplace’ that are structured, measurable and impactful on human beings is vital, now more than ever. With 42% of the UK population feeling anxious or worried and 18% feeling helpless during the pandemic*, we need to take our mental health and wellbeing seriously.
Over the past decade I have served as a counselling and therapeutic practitioner, gaining first-hand experience of what it implies to be self-employed and the associated long hours of the job - essentially you are working alone. You have to establish your practice, market it, explain what you do, offer your hours, book room space (in the old days) and wait...
Naturally, I'm very invested in the wellbeing of my clients and I work hard to help them understand a session’s value and the significance of their attending, especially if therapy is something not recognised as a consciously deserved expense. For practitioners, however, it can often be a lonely and exhausting process and I am very conscious of the vital and growing importance of ongoing feedback and crucially, a sense of community.
At the end of last year, I merged my consultancy Northstar Therapies with another business Zipporah Seven, headed by a long-term colleague and collaborator, Katy Holliday to create Zipporah & Northstar. And now, we are beyond proud to launch GetZeN, a brand-new online platform for organisational wellbeing services and practitioners.
What is GetZeN?
We've created GetZeN to have a dual impact; eradicating the pain points for any individual tasked with organising wellbeing events for their employees and providing subsequent diagnostics.
The platform is, as we understand it, achieving two significant firsts. One is connecting heads of department with responsibility in this field to targeted wellbeing services through a bespoke digital user interface and the second is providing a business case to organisations as well as the clear human imperative through measurement and ROI (return on investment) data. We all know that many of the positive aspects of these practices simply can’t be measured, but as far as is able, we now provide professionals charged with implementing curated wellbeing programmes with clear, demonstrable, measurable benefits to employees.
We all know there’s a huge amount of admin that goes into the start of the search for a specialist, the vetting of qualified practitioners with myriad questions involved; Are they qualified? Are they comfortable with public speaking? Can they adapt to last-minute changes with an event? We also address the concerns that the newly minted ‘heads of wellbeing’ regularly experience; how can I prove that this wellbeing budget is well spent? If the speaker is terrible will this be on me? How do I search for the right qualification? What does their qualification even mean?
With our onboarding process, we take away any worry or concern that anyone may have when researching the right practitioner, as the work has already been done for them
GetZeN is underpinned by a diagnostic tool that gives us insight into the impact of a programme on any attending individual's wellbeing. In partnership with the University of Hertfordshire, we are developing a white label for this diagnostic, measuring against five key metrics: anxiety, productivity, sense of wellbeing, energy and stress which will be available to view on the client's profile on the platform. This makes all activity as accountable as possible as well as ensuring that preventative measures we collaboratively implement with heads of HR are constantly revised and refined to meet the employee’s needs.
From listening to our clients, we know this will be invaluable as wellbeing specialists need to demonstrate to stakeholders that investing in employees is vital and more importantly, ongoing. Working with occupational psychologists and the University of Hertfordshire, we have designed a process that allows us to assess a corporation and its employees' immediate challenges, matching those with the right wellbeing programme/s. Our diagnostic tool then allows us to reflect in an informed way on the outcome of the employee data, firstly to recognise wellbeing change in the individual and secondly, to finesse any of our programmes should they need it.
This leads me neatly to our already onboarded practitioners who pull this whole thing together. Their experience, skillset and passion are immeasurable and their value needs to be recognised. We currently have over 45 qualified, experienced practitioners and over 150 curated programmes that range from one-to-one therapy, workshops, talks and creative events.
We have practitioners from a very wide range of disciplines; psychotherapists to coaches, acupuncturists, reiki practitioners, crafting, foresting bathing and sound bath experts, men's mental health specialists to keynote speakers. What they all share however is how proud we are of hosting such a diverse range of offerings. We don't want to lead by egos and we want to celebrate the practitioners’ unique offering. With our onboarding process, we take away any worry or concern that anyone may have when researching the right practitioner, as the work has already been done for them.
Our community is growing. Some practitioners come with ready-made programmes, others have passion and ideas around their skills but need help curating their programmes which Katy and I are developing and co-producing with them.
We want to offer practitioners new audiences as well as support them directly, so they grow in confidence in terms of the specific skill of providing corporate services. Every practitioner who has invested years of training and qualifications can now access the opportunity to impact workplace wellbeing and add another skill set to their experience. The preparation, delivery and effort required to work with larger corporate groups is no mean feat and should be rewarded appropriately.
Launched in June 2021, our automated platform makes wellbeing organisers' lives easier. Katy and I understand that humans still need to be very much part of the consultative process from start to finish. A single programme could be the beginning of a pivotal change for an employee, and that's when we know the work has impact.
To give you a flavour of the diverse disciplines we have onboarded, here are some wellbeing tips from our practitioners for 2021, as we all continue to adapt to a new world.
"Research has shown that one of the best ways to reduce stress, boost mood and improve overall mental and physical health is by spending more time in a parasympathetic state (a state of complete relaxation) during the day, instead of waiting until bedtime to recuperate. Letting your mind rest for a few minutes at lunchtime, mid-afternoon or right after work can be very beneficial. If you have an active mind and find it hard to switch off, you might like to try meditating with sound, known as a 'sound bath'. Sound can help to induce a meditative and relaxed state by influencing your brainwaves." - Selma Studer, Founder of GONG.
“What works for a lot of people is a solid routine. Set aside time, e.g. in the morning, to meditate for 10 minutes, or journal and prepare your day. Any routine to quieten your mind regularly throughout the day, and stay focused.” - Volker Ballueder, Career & Leadership Coach
“Tune in to how your body responds to stress. Is your brain permanently switched on? Does your digestion get affected? Recognising our responses can enable us to take action quickly to stop that stress reaction impacting us long term. Self-care is one way to do that - reading, relaxing, breathing, exercise, movement are all good places to start.” - Joanna Shurety, Health Coach
“Begin by breathing in for four counts, then hold the breath for four counts, breath out for four counts, then hold the breath for four counts. For each part of the technique, visualise drawing one side of a square until you have a complete square shape. You can repeat this until either you feel calmer or you are asleep.” - Laura Silverman, Massage & Reiki Therapist