Meet the Black-led company shaking up the world of workplace wellbeing

Workplace wellbeing is a rapidly growing industry as awareness of its impact on every aspect of a business is becoming increasingly clear. But with this comes significant challenges, as more than 50 per cent of SMEs do not have a wellbeing strategy helping them to design and structure what they deliver. This often leads to poor choices that are ineffective at best and an organisational risk at worst. As we approach Black History Month, one Black-led business is breaking the mould of what workplace wellbeing can achieve.

This is the reason why the psychologist and entrepreneur launched Essentialise Workplace Wellbeing at the beginning of 2020. Combining his lived experience of relearning to walk and mental health challenges and his industrial experience and academic expertise, he desired to change the narrative. He surveyed hundreds of SMEs and found that data, budgets and engagement were often barriers to creating an effective wellbeing programme. Essentialise supports SMEs to harness what they currently have that can be utilised and identify what is needed to create a sustainable business case for wellbeing.

By removing the fluffiness from wellbeing and utilising metrics, companies can identify the outcomes desired and design their strategy with this in mind. Through working with Essentialise, businesses are able to measure what is currently working and what needs to evolve, moving wellbeing away from being “the right thing to do” to being “beneficial to both the business and every employee in it”.

Even with a robust and effective strategy, delivery still needs to create an effective impact. Essentialise supports organisations to achieve this through engaging, bespoke delivery that includes employee participation in design. This identifies industry and culture challenges that, when addressed, engage employees as they feel listened to, valued and appreciated. Delivery is evidence-based, story-driven and skill-focused, meeting employees where they are at and demystifying what wellbeing means to them. There are no fruit bowls or bean bags by default, only wellbeing that is worth investing in and that embeds for long term benefit.

Founder of Essentialise, Lee Chambers, said: “The principle of Essentialise Workplace Wellbeing was to improve wellbeing from both a businesses perspective and an employees experience. As a young black male with Asperger’s, I’ve found it difficult to access wellbeing when I needed it, and seen many others feel it’s not for them. And as the owner of a videogame business previously, I struggled to quantify the impact or find quality wellbeing for my team. We are one of only a handful of Black-led workplace wellbeing companies in the UK, and we are incredibly passionate about breaking down the barriers and stigma of wellbeing as being all about privilege, expensive smoothies and VIP retreats.

“At Essentialise we build inclusivity into every process, and work with our clients to do the same. There is no value in applying wellbeing to a toxic culture, so we assist with the process of embedding inclusion and psychological safety. This approach of treating the root cause is what stand for; we don’t want organisations wasting their money on wellbeing and thinking that it doesn’t work.”

The Preston-based company is also active when it comes to social impact. Over the past 12 months, it has worked for a number of charities for free, including delivery to two NHS trusts, hosted a positive health radio show for isolated communities, and supported local SEND schools with mentoring and careers advice. It has won a number of accolades, including awards at the UK Enterprise Awards and Greater Manchester Business Awards. Despite losing a number of initial clients due to the first lockdown, it now works with various household names across a range of sectors, including accountancy, retail and law.

Lee Chambers concluded: “The past 18 months have highlighted just how important wellbeing is. And that is why it’s so important that it is accessible, inclusive and effective, as we need wellbeing that works more than ever in this period of transition.”