Geoff McDonald - Keynote Speaker, Business Transformation Advisor & Mental Health Campaigner

On Thursday 15th April the Scottish HR Leadership Group (SHRLG), in conjunction with Executive Search specialists FWB Park Brown, welcomed Geoff McDonald to speak at the fourth in a series of virtual masterclasses. This series of HR focused, workplace behaviour masterclasses was attended by many of Scotland’s senior HR leaders and their teams. You can read about the full details here.


A million wellbeing conversations… and counting

After the event, Geoff received the following message from Francis Lake – Head of Organisation Development at CYBG (Virgin Money UK), which referred back to the effects of a talk Geoff gave back in 2016…

I was just on the session with the SHRLG there, and I wanted to let you know a story that I thought you’d be interested in.

I’ve seen you speak a few times, mainly with Wavelength (first time was when you were in role at Unilever, so quite a while ago!). I saw you talk at some point in 2016 or so, and at that point you talked about creating an environment where everyone could put their hand up at work. To be perfectly honest, the session jarred with me a bit then, as it struck me that so much depends on the relationship with the manager – i.e. if you’ve not got a relationship with your manager where you talk about “life” when things are going ok, then it is going to be even tougher if you are starting to suffer. It niggled away at me and got me to thinking about how you normalise conversations about wellbeing.

That inspired me to build wellbeing into our performance conversations when we transformed performance in 2017. The whole approach is built on positive psychology, so hopefully less psychologically damaging than old-school PM. As part of the approach, every quarter colleagues have check-ins with their people leader, and the first thing on the agenda is wellbeing. The aim is to normalise talking about wellbeing so there’s more chance of talking about it in bad times – i.e. making it more likely people will feel they can put their hand up. Between CYBG and Virgin Money, we’ve now had over 100k points to talk wellbeing (we’re not kidding ourselves that all of those conversations have been brilliant, but it’s all progress). The benefits going into this last twelve months have been huge.

And… one of the ripple effects is that I talked to our performance partner, Clear Review, about this. As a result, when Clear Review onboarding new customers, they recommend including wellbeing as part of performance check-ins. And they confirmed with me last spring that there had now been over 1m wellbeing conversations that had gone through the system with their clients.

So, not sure if you’ve been keeping score, but thought you’d like to know your talk was the inspiration that led to over a million wellbeing conversations, and counting.