How tragedy inspired pioneering wellness approach

After struggling through grief and personal issues, co-founders are taking on box-ticking HR jargon

How tragedy inspired pioneering wellness approach

Mental Health and wellness are buzzwords in HR right now, with companies that provide Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) in high demand. Two men, however, are pioneering a unique wellness product – ‘Employee Wellbeing Services’ – offered through their company, Welldesk.

Welldesk was born when co-founders, Adam Prince, CEO, and Michael Howell, who were struggling through issues of their own, endured further grief when a mutual friend committed suicide. “I didn’t know where to start to get support and nor did Michael,” said Prince.

Read more: Should wellness programs be compulsory

“What we’re offering is a complete end-to-end solution that nobody in the marketplace is providing, and then we’re continually checking in and providing coaching along the way. So, people aren’t left alone, they’re getting coached to understand the challenges they’ve got,” Prince explained. 

Prince agreed that wellness is a buzzword, but questions how seriously people are taking it. “There seems to be this ongoing tick-box exercise, but businesses need to realise when it comes to wellbeing, the focus needs to be on the individual.

“You’re always directed to EAPs if you’ve got personal issues to resolve but there’s very low uptake,” said Prince, citing data that shows 54% of employees have experienced a mental health condition in the past 12 months but less than 5% of staff that require help engage workplace EAP services. 

“There’s no doubt that EAPs have been around for a long time,” said Prince, “but they’re content driven, they’re reactive and they’re not dealing with the specific issues that are affecting someone’s overall holistic wellbeing.”

Read more: How to improve your wellness strategy

Aside from having a low uptake, Prince believes EAPs feed the individual with content but then the service leaves them to try to understand and resolve the issue alone. He thinks sometimes people simply aren’t in the right headspace to go and do that for themselves.

Employee Wellbeing Services takes that extra step by focusing on the overall holistic wellbeing of an individual and solidifying an action plan with on-going support and follow-up.

Welldesk uses its six scientifically supported pillars of wellbeing to drive and create a target plan to make gradual, and significant improvements, to an individual. The pillars are: work and intellectual; financial and environment; social and relationships, emotional and psychological, meaning and purpose, and physical health and energy. Once an initial assessment is done and data collated, they produce a tailored wellbeing plan for each individual employee.

The service doesn’t stop there said Prince. “We say, ‘don’t worry about going and finding a psychologist, gym, nutritional plan, or financial advisor; we’ll do that for you’. We come back to you with those options and get you connected to those services or products. Then we follow up afterwards to make sure that you’ve gone to see the advisor, that you’re happy with the advisor and everything is on track, explained Prince.

The pair are currently developing MiBeing – a marketplace to support the work that Welldesk does. Once Welldesk has looked at the data and identified an individual’s specific areas of support, MiBeing directs users to services and products to support their specific areas of need.

“The marketplace is a way to really capture providers so we can start to connect the individuals once we’ve identified what is happening with their data,” said Prince.

The pair said they are getting fantastic feedback about their service. “At the end of the day, we know that this service is going to change people’s lives. We are there to really support the individual on their wellbeing journey from going to one state to another. EAPs, yes, they provide a service but are they really changing the narrative? I don’t think they can confidently profess that they have changed people’s lives,” said Prince. 

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