Local companies demonstrated their commitment to wellbeing at the very first Leaders in Wellbeing conference.


Taking place on Tuesday 15th May at The Space in Norwich, the event showcased the latest thinking in wellbeing from a range of speakers, sharing personal stories as well as ideas about practical ways to role model wellbeing, and how to embed it within organisational culture.


Supported by the East Coast College, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, New Anglia LEP, Aviva, and Adnams, the conference was chaired by Ian Hacon, an Energy coach who helps clients be more productive, successful, and purposeful by unlocking their potential energy.


Gemma Sandwell, who is a mindfulness teacher and positive psychology practitioner, supporting wellbeing and leadership at Aviva, opened the morning with a mindfulness session for delegates.  Gemma talked about how mindfulness helps us be more productive and creative as well as helping us with stress and anxiety.


Gemma’s session was followed by Nigel Cushion, who specialises in Leadership, Mentoring and Board Governance and is just about to publish his first book, ‘ACTION STATION,’ dealing with stress, mental health, and performance. Nigel spoke about how the goal is for companies to decrease stress and increase performance. He pointed out that many of us are operating at a high stress level, and this is damaging. Nigel also said that we need to take a team approach to wellbeing.


Next, Ian Hacon shared his personal wellbeing journey and talked about the impact that wellbeing can have on performance and business success. He also described how looking after his own health and energy allowed him to dream bigger. Ian asked the audience to get to their feet for his talk, demonstrating the importance of getting moving for improving wellbeing.


Sadie Lofthouse is Director of Culture & Performance at Adnams, a role in which she helps to shape a culture that will create an employee mindset that will in turn drive winning behaviours. Sadie talked about the wide variety of ways employers can support physical and emotional wellbeing and stressed the importance of having the right culture in place. She highlighted the critical role that line managers play in this and focused on how simple and low-cost interventions can have real impact.


Katherine Billingham-Mohamed works in the People Function in Aviva and she led the work to launch Wellbeing@Aviva in 2017 which is Aviva’s holistic approach to supporting their people on their wellbeing journey. Katherine spoke about how creating a Wellbeing Strategy that was inclusive of people’s needs was not without challenge! But overcoming these challenges and launching Wellbeing@Aviva has been iconic for Aviva employees. She also talked about how so much about Wellbeing is about listening and connecting with people and really doesn’t have to cost a lot of money!


Next was Michelle Gant, Director of The Engaging People Company. Michelle is committed to supporting organisations to protect and maintain wellbeing and to create a culture where people are empowered to talk about their wellbeing. Michelle talked about the business case for wellbeing, how companies can start to build and embed a wellbeing programme, and the significant impact this can have on employee engagement, motivation, and satisfaction.


Kevin Daniels is UEA Professor of Organisational Behaviour and leader of the Work, Learning and Wellbeing evidence programme for the Economic and Social Research Council funded What Works Wellbeing Centre, closed the event. Kevin talked about the scientific evidence on different strategies and approaches to improving wellbeing which was reflected in the good practice from the Eastern Region on show at the conference and called for further collaboration to spread that good practice.


Chris Sargisson, Chief Executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce said:  “We recognise the importance of supporting all our colleagues, leaders, and the wider business community to put wellbeing at the core of our organisations. Our business culture is changing to grow and support our staff’s physical, mental, and social well-being. Happy staff equals a happy and successful place of work, which is something we all work hard to achieve on a daily basis. We are delighted to be part of this forward-thinking event, and no doubt will be sharing the highlights from today with all our members and Chamber staff too.”


Charlotte Purves of New Anglia LEP said: “This event has been aimed at helping business leaders to understand how supporting wellbeing can not only help them personally, but when extended to their organisations, can drive productivity and growth. This is something that New Anglia LEP work hard to promote and in finding alternative ways of achieving this, through focusing on wellbeing, we can really support the growth of Norfolk and Suffolk.”

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