In Mental Health Awareness Week, CEO Ben Dansie reflects on the immense value of mental wellbeing and why kindness is at the heart of a successful business.
Here in the UK it is Mental Health Awareness Week. This year’s theme is kindness. Very apt, as small acts of kindness have been at the heart of every local community’s response to get through these challenging weeks and months. It has been warming to see how we have reconnected at a local level, with both the people and places around them.
Kindness is also at the heart of a successful business. Businesses are more community than they are company. The word “business” describes an association of people, be that natural or legal. Company feels like the old world; more Hudson Bay and East India than May 2020.
Words like kindness are important because they help tear away at the edifice that somehow at work we are strong, removed – different. Kindness wasn’t invented by Clayton Christensen (RIP as his study of milkshakes is right up there). Kindness was born in the wellbeing of a successful local community.
Where we find ourselves right now, in our homes, has finally put the nail in the idea that how we are at work and how we are at home is, somehow, something different. Working from home. Doing webinars from home. Helping clients deal with the challenges they face. Supporting colleagues and friends having really tough mental health challenges, reveals us as people and not simply peers.
If you agree that your community is everything, then the mental wellbeing of colleagues is paramount.
We started a journey to making ourselves into a better community exactly one year ago. We sat down in Westminster College, Cambridge and frankly didn’t admire a lot of what we had become. We were joined on our journey by the lovely and brilliant Mack Fogelson. She has written much more eloquently on our journey than I could. Much of the language she calls out: “having a plan, telling people how to do their jobs, working incessantly, creating red tape. All sounds like ‘company’ language.
We’ve adopted new paths of communication (we communicate a great deal internally). New ways of doing. New ways of being. It has remade us. Back into the community that we set out to build 20 years ago. My colleagues at work will be tired of my saying that a company is no more than people it employs. But it’s truer today than ever. And even more important. Our work is about change: digital transformation, brand transformation, cultural transformation. In truth these happen best when delivered in a coordinated manner.
At the heart of our journey has been our ambition to build a community of grown-ups who can make their own decisions, be vulnerable with each other (and clients) and learn lessons about being better humans. My lesson: take real pride in all our success in the moment, and not miss it whilst constantly worrying about tomorrow (and right now that’s truer than ever). This feels much more like the language of a “community” and it absolutely requires us to be more concerned with the mental health of everyone within our community.
A business is no more than the people it employs. That is what mental wealth is all about. Mental health is instrumental to mental wealth and for that reason this week is extremely important.