Psychological Technologies Ltd - known as PsyT - is a start-up with around 10 full-time and part-time staff. They help companies measure wellbeing, culture and engagement in real-time by use of a mobile app. The app also helps employees to improve their wellbeing and stress levels by developing mindfulness techniques.
The business is based at Kennington because the team likes the ambience, cafe and it’s convenient. They are currently embarking on second round funding (£1m +) in order to support the next stage of their development. Over to PsyT’s Head of Insight Charles Fair...
Work: we nearly all have to do it, but it brings its own stresses. A certain amount of pressure can be energising and create a feeling of achievement when challenges are overcome. But sustained pressure over a long period, coupled with inadequate support, will tip over into stress and “burnout” – which can be a particular challenge for business leaders and entrepreneurs.
First off, what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness could be one of the most useful skills you will ever learn. There’s been a huge amount of research over the last 20 years with over 2,500 research papers on the subject including ones from leading universities such as Oxford and Harvard. It has been shown to be effective at reducing anxiety, addiction, depression relapse, insomnia and even in lessening the effects of pain. But it’s not just for those who feel bad, it’s also been found to increase attention span, self-control, mood and help us think more clearly under pressure.
Mindfulness is a form of mental training, or more specifically a form of attention and emotional regulation training. You start by developing your attention, so you can more easily choose where you mind goes rather than being at its mercy.
As you start to develop your attention, you also start to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. You develop an ability to be with them, without pushing away the ones you don’t like, or running after the ones you do like. And this starts to give you a lot more space and choice as to how you react to them, so you can choose to respond to your emotions in ways that are in line with your own and others’ happiness.
While we can’t control the world around us to ensure we have exactly what we want, we can control our responses and mindfulness helps us do exactly this.
Workplace stress is now becoming a key issue for business and mindfulness was discussed as a way to address this at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos.
So, as a manager, what can you do?
Know your people
Know something about their lives outside of work. They may be undergoing stressful events such as moving house, bereavement or relationship breakdown.
Being a round peg in a square hole is stressful for all concerned.
If they feel supported through such events (by being given flexibility when needed) they’re far more likely to give their best at work.
Encourage everyone to take responsibility.
We all owe it to ourselves to get enough sleep, take exercise and eat healthily. At work, we can ensure that we take regular breaks to stretch our legs and change posture, as well as staying hydrated. Mindfulness exercises, such as the “Three Minute Breathing Space”, can help us to improve our ability to concentrate and control our anxiety levels.
Know your staff’s strengths...
...and use them wherever possible. What are they good at, and what do they want to achieve? Being a round peg in a square hole is stressful for all concerned.
Create a positive culture.
Your style as a business leader has a major impact on wellbeing at work. It’s your behaviour that ultimately sets the tone of an organisation. By leading by example you can build a strong, supportive culture underpinned by values that help people to be the best that they can be.
Dial down the pressure.
Get outside for “walking meetings”, where you hold one-to-one or small group discussions while walking around a local park. Or issue email guidelines to limit the pernicious effect of an “always on” culture of responding to emails 24/7.
For UK plc, poor wellbeing at work – expressed through absenteeism, staff turnover and burnout – costs an estimated £25.9 billion; that’s £820 per person employed, per year. Which makes it something none of us can afford to ignore.
Based at Club Workspace Kennington, PsyT helps companies measure wellbeing – and individuals develop mindfulness techniques – via a mobile app. To find out more or to trial the app, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.psyt.co.uk