EXECUTIVE WELLNESS — Leadership can get exhausting when you are the sole person expected to know what to do all the time. I found counseling and consulting executives allowed them to voice their challenges and implement alternative perspectives that they wouldn’t come to at first themselves.
The pandemic pause brought us to a moment of collective reckoning about what it means to live well and to work well. As a result, employees are sending employers an urgent signal that they are no longer willing to choose one — life or work — at the cost of the other. Working from home brought life literally into our work. And as the world now goes hybrid, employees are drawing firmer boundaries about how much of their work comes into their life. Where does this leave employers? And which perspectives and programs contribute most to progress? In our newest interview series, Working Well: How Companies Are Creating Cultures That Support & Sustain Mental, Emotional, Social, Physical & Financial Wellness, we are talking to successful executives, entrepreneurs, managers, leaders, and thought leaders across all industries to share ideas about how to shift company cultures in light of this new expectation. We’re discovering strategies and steps employers and employees can take together to live well and to work well.
As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Cameron Biafore.
Cameron is the founder of Cameron & Partners, a Management Consultancy Firm based in Dubai, UAE. Cameron and her team have been transforming work cultures, and the way executives lead all around the world through her unconventional approaches and strategies. She believes in putting focus on emotional intelligence, wellness, and culture driven programs that breed long lasting results.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you better. Tell us about a formative experience that prompted you to change your relationship with work and how work shows up in your life.
I have always valued freedom above all else whether that was emotional, mental, physical, or financial. I grew up watching my parents experience stress and having no work life balance which left me puzzled and resistant to enter the workforce myself. This led me to question where the disconnection was. When I was younger, I perceived work to be something that wasn’t enjoyable long term and knew there had to be a better way to work that brought people fulfillment, joy, security, and long lasting satisfaction. I took my curiosity and traveled the world after college to learn more about how different cultures approached this. This turned into over 9 years living in different countries and regions of the world discovering what drove results, motivation, inspiration, and better quality of life. It has made me challenge the definition of work. I teach my clients to live first and work second. Although that might sound counterintuitive, this theme has led to soaring results for companies as a whole on all levels. For most of my adult life I have lived this way honoring new experiences and fueling intrinsic motivation myself which as a result catapulted my career from the level of fulfillment, satisfaction, and enjoyment I experienced everyday.
Harvard Business Review predicts that wellness will become the newest metric employers will use to analyze and to assess their employees’ mental, physical and financial health. How does your organization define wellness, and how does your organization measure wellness?
Wellness is personal. At Cameron & Partners we believe wellness is the main priority for individuals and companies as a whole. After spending years all over Asia I discovered more efficient, long term, and preventative practices that produced a profound change in mental, physical, and financial health. We integrate these practices through training programs and can be implemented immediately. Over time, measurement is taken through observation and assessment of those we work with week by week. If you can find where the blocks are for an individual in regards to these areas, and provide simple ways to create a different outcome, it indirectly fuels the growth of a company in exponential and positive ways when you solve personal problems at a root level.
Based on your experience or research, how do you correlate and quantify the impact of a well workforce on your organization’s productivity and profitability?
I see changes begin happening within a week of working with individuals and in my own employees first hand. I noticed if we can bring awareness to how someone operates, thinks, behaves, what their habits are, how they deal with stress, and how they view themselves outside of work, you can begin supporting them in ways on a personal level which is needed now more than ever. We provide alternative perspectives or solutions that actually build skills indirectly and increase emotional intelligence. It translates unbelievably in the quality of work they produce. Listen to what your people want, it will provide valuable insight to position the way things are run so they feel good at work.
Fueling or supporting intrinsic motivation on an individual basis naturally leads to more excitement or satisfaction in the workplace. People want to be where they are appreciated. People want to feel important. I’ve seen my company and other companies I work with jump in their sales, profits, promotions, business partnerships and so on in the matter of a few weeks from focusing on these areas. Its a night and day difference.
Even though most leaders have good intentions when it comes to employee wellness, programs that require funding are beholden to business cases like any other initiative. The World Health Organization estimates for every $1 invested into treatment for common mental health disorders, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. That sounds like a great ROI. And, yet many employers struggle to fund wellness programs that seem to come “at the cost of the business.” What advice do you have to offer to other organizations and leaders who feel stuck between intention and impact?
I can see how at first there might be a lack of motivation to invest into company wide wellness programs as it is often perceived that this kind of service would not be utilized or would be an expense. To some degree this could be true as many focus on just physical wellness. If you invest in programs centered around mindfulness and emotional intelligence that are trained company wide but delivered on a personal level, employees will show up differently at work. Provide solutions that allow people to be seen, and that focus on reducing stress. I think wellness programs like this are still a very new concept that creates hesitation. Whereas I have seen amazing ROIs. I’ve noticed huge gaps and that is why I have created my unique programs that are provided to companies on a custom level. This level of care for employees is necessary. There are bridges to be created for more companies in this regard.
Speaking of money matters, a recent Gallup study reveals employees of all generations rank wellbeing as one of their top three employer search criteria. How are you incorporating wellness programs into your talent recruitment and hiring processes?
People want to feel free and appreciated! They know how much of their lives are invested into their work so naturally the more you can provide things that create community, reduce stress, and environments that make them feel appreciated, they are going to want to perform. Personal development focused work is now more attractive than ever. Meaning emotional intelligence is increasing, it is becoming more mainstream, and growth is IN. Make wellness fun and hip for them.
In my programs I teach talent recruitment how to read human behavior when interviewing, what to look for, what to question, and how to “read between the lines” of what someone is saying. A common theme I notice in people looking for jobs is the feeling of choice and flexibility. Find what drives an individual, and you can set them up in a way that will produce the results you are looking for in your company.
We’ve all heard of the four-day work week, unlimited PTO, mental health days, and on demand mental health services. What innovative new programs and pilots are you launching to address employee wellness? And, what are you discovering? We would benefit from an example in each of these areas.
Three words: FREEDOM. FLEXIBILITY. CHOICE. I have recently launched 3 very innovative programs for employees, executives, and the company as a whole that are centered around these themes. I disrupt traditional notions, and ways of operating that typically go against most of what a company would expect or do themselves.
- Emotional Wellness: provide weekly mindfulness classes, access to life coaching and counseling, create awareness, new habits, new beliefs, feelings of satisfaction, better view of self, healthier relationships, and reduce stress through training.
- Social Wellness: Training around building relationships, communication habits, leadership, reduction in need for conflict resolution, community building activities online, in the office, outings, and fun challenges.
- Physical Wellness: Online yoga classes, PT sessions, breathwork classes, and nutrition coaching.
- Financial Wellness: Training around money management, motivation, and investing. Team skill based training around closing, sales, communication, negotiation, charisma, charm, relationship building etc that influence profits.
Can you please tell us more about a couple of specific ways workplaces would benefit from investing in your ideas above to improve employee wellness?
See increases in:
– Exceed monthly targets
– Positive PR
– Employee satisfaction
– Conflict resolution
– Better communication
– Happiness, fun, and joy at home and in the workplace
– More company wide loyalty and feeling of belonging for employees
– More leadership
– Better decision making
– Excitement and motivation in the workplace
– Emotional intelligence
– Confidence and self esteem
– Financial security
How are you reskilling leaders in your organization to support a “Work Well” culture?
Focused learning on the importance and skills of emotional intelligence. Incorporating reasoning, negotiation, and other practices that lead to mutual agreements and partnerships. Leaders will hear me repeat “seek to understand, rather than to be understood” a lot through my consulting and training as well.
Ideas take time to implement. What is one small step every individual, team or organization can take to get started on these ideas — to get well?
MAKE. IT. FUN! Create challenges and rewards that fuel the results you are looking for. Ask your people how they are doing and don’t stop at “i’m doing ok” ask further questions, allow your people to feel seen.
What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Workplace Wellness?”
- EMPLOYEE WELLNESS — I have heard again and again on an individual basis that because we focused on their personal lives, where the root of their main concerns come from, and how to experience sustainable change. It has bred promotions, deals, business partnerships, profits, etc.
- EXECUTIVE WELLNESS — Leadership can get exhausting when you are the sole person expected to know what to do all the time. I found counseling and consulting executives allowed them to voice their challenges and implement alternative perspectives that they wouldn’t come to at first themselves.
- EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE — impacts everything. Just from focusing on how an individual views themselves and the world can breed closer relationships, reduce stress, I’ve had people experience happier marriages, bring people back together, increase motivation, and experience less complaining as a few examples. This raises company morale as a whole.
- REMOTE WORK — The freedom to choose to come in the office, work together elsewhere, work at home, or work and travel. Feeling like you have options and can choose produces more loyalty and less resistance.
- ONGOING EDUCATION — It is satisfying to grow. It brings feelings of more satisfaction and improves quality of life.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of workplace wellness?
I love that the workplace is getting more relaxed! From my own perspective it seems like people are responding well to workplace flexibility and more casual environments. I see that organizations are already leaning towards providing more freedom which all people want.
Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?
I am most active on instagram @cameronbiafore and love chatting with people there.
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and wellness.