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58: Impact of the Health Gap on Business Success

We delve deep into a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of business success – the health gap.

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Welcome to a thought-provoking episode, where we delve deep into a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of business success – the health gap.

In this conversation, we’re joined by a panel of distinguished experts, including Lord James Bethell, Dame Carol Black, Kathy Abernethy, and Chantelle Bell. Together, we uncover the hidden consequences of the health gap on workplace productivity and employee well-being.

Key Talking Points:

  • The Health Gap and Its Implications for the Workplace:
  • The Direct Impact on Productivity:
  • Retention and Recruitment:
  • The Role of Leadership:

Guest Introductions:

Lord James Bethell

James is a former Minister and current member of the House of Lords. As Minister for Innovation in the Department for Health and Social Care, he helped lead the national response to the Covid epidemic. He is one of Britain’s foremost campaigners with a twenty-year track record working across government, media and industry.

Dame Carol Black

Professor Dame Carol Black is currently Chair of the British Library, the Centre for Ageing Better, and Think Ahead, the Government’s fast-stream training programme for Mental Health Social Workers. She chairs NHS Improvement’s Advisory Board on Employee Health and Wellbeing, and is Adviser to NHSI and on Health and Work. She is also a member of RAND Europe’s Council of Advisers, and of the Board of UKActive.

Kathy Abernethy

Kathy is a highly-qualified and experienced menopause specialist and Director of Menopause Services at Peppy. She is a founding member, current Trustee and the past Chair of the British Menopause Society (BMS). Through her work, Kathy raises awareness of the impact of menopause and connects people to personalised, expert-led menopause support.

Chantelle Bell

Chantelle Bell is the Managing Director and co-founder of Syrona Health, where she is transforming the future of women’s healthcare by empowering women to monitor their gynaecological health at home. She has been recognised by Forbes as one of the top 50 women in tech for Europe and by the Financial Times as one of the top 100 minority leaders in technology.

As we conclude this enlightening episode, we reflect on the pivotal importance of recognizing and addressing the silent impact of the health gap on business success. Our expert guests leave us with actionable takeaways and a call to action for business leaders and organizations to prioritize health equity and well-being as cornerstones of their success.


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The Transcript

⚠️ NOTE: This is an automated transcript, so it might not always be 100% accurate!

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Speaker 1 0:00
and she died in the bath slipped under the water in a drinking drug haze.

Leanne Elliott 0:15
Hello, and welcome to the truth lies and workplace culture podcast brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. My name is Leanne. I’m a Business psychologist.

Al Elliott 0:24
My name is Al. I’m a business owner.

Leanne Elliott 0:26
We are here to help you simplify the science of people and create amazing workplace coaches.

Al Elliott 0:31
Yeah, hello again, Episode 58. I think yeah, Episode 58. This one’s gonna be a good one. It’s a beefy one. We probably have around about 45 minutes of clips to play you. So we’re not we’re going to very reduced news roundup. I’m really

Leanne Elliott 0:45
I didn’t think we were doing one at all. I haven’t prepared one. Is it reduced?

Al Elliott 0:50
Don’t worry, there’s no quizzes or anything. All we wanted to do was basically just tell people that we’re gonna be at the MadWorld event on the 13th of October. That sound right? Nope,

Leanne Elliott 0:59
it’s October the 12th. Or 13th, we won’t be there is October 12 2023. At 1111111 at 133. Hounds ditch, which if you’re not from the UK, or indeed London might sound a bit strange, but it is a very fancy conference center, apparently. But yeah, it’s a mad world, the sixth Summit, we are the official podcast partner of the event, there is loads of cool speakers there. People from all sorts of corporate organizations, small businesses, providers, government, it really is going to be an incredible event for anybody who cares about workplace wellbeing, mental health and culture and wants to see a shift in how we work. Yeah, it’s going to be eight tickets still available, it’s very reasonable price for the huge amount of content that they are going to pack in in that one day event. So yeah, do come down, go to Mad World And you can book your tickets.

Al Elliott 1:51
And as they said, the added bonuses that will be there you’ll be have a great meet for us or a meet and greet. That’s one of

Leanne Elliott 1:56
the ways to greet and meet or you can do it whichever word you want to do. If we were not,

Al Elliott 2:01
technically you do greeting me say hello, and then you meet them, then you’ve so anyway, either way, so you will see us and that will be zero Pro, we won’t charge you any money for that. This can be free to come and say hello to us. If you want a photo, it’s 100 quid a pop. So that’s the Mad World Summit link in the show notes. If you’d like anything to do with mental health, wellbeing, corporate well being, you have to be there. We’re coming over from Bosnia flying out there to to be there. So if you live in the UK, you’ve got no excuse. Okay, stuff down there. link in the show notes. We’ll see you there. Oh, by the way, just get on your LinkedIn and tell us if you are coming, because we’d love to arrange to see you. Okay, so this episode is all about the health gap. Now, you might be wondering what on earth is the health gap got to do with me as a business owner? Turns out quite a lot. We won’t go into it right now, because we separate this into sort of five major sections. So I’ll quickly go through those with you then. So there’s three sort of impacts of this health gap. The first one is around productivity. What’s it doing? If someone doesn’t, isn’t 100%, they’re clearly not going to give you 100%. The second one is around retention and recruitment. If people are if people aren’t coming in to looking for jobs, and it’s more difficult to find the right people. And if people are leaving because of Juha due to ill health, then is hard to retain them. And the final one is the role of leadership. What should leaders actually be doing? We’re going to go into that in a second. We’re at the five questions. We’ve asked our panel, but we’ve got a panel of four incredible people. Leann, do you want to start with guest number one?

Leanne Elliott 3:26
Yes, we have some incredible guests today. Our first panel member is Lord James Bethel. Yes, my us friends. You heard me correctly. We have a Lord on the podcast this week. Lord Bethel is a huge advocate for a healthier and happier workforce. Having held numerous ministerial powers, such as a minister of Life Sciences, and building and selling several businesses. He’s definitely on the side of business owners.

Al Elliott 3:53
Just in case you didn’t know and I don’t think Leon knows this. And I wants to surprise her with it. Lord Bethel actually also was one of the founding founding people behind this brand. And also as the managing director of Ministry of Sound. Yes. The nightclubs. Yes. All the DVDs. All the CDs. Yes, that guy. He was one of the founding team and he was the managing director for a while

Leanne Elliott 4:14
there. Isn’t that cool? Is Lord Bethel, a bit of a raver. As I was saying, I

Al Elliott 4:17
think so i think is MC Lord. Bethel I think is a really cool guy. Yep. So let’s go and meet Lord Bethel.

Speaker 1 4:27
Yep, my name is James Bethel. I’m a member of the House of Lords. And I was Minister for Life Sciences in the department for health and social care. And I remain a champion for innovation and for what really making Britain a healthier place.

Al Elliott 4:43
Our second guest is Chantal Bell, who’s one of the founding partners of Sirona health is a platform that provides gender inclusive benefits. Now we’re gonna go through that in a second. What that actually means. Chantal did a master’s at Cambridge and is named as one of the top 50 eu women in the EU. repeating list. Let’s go meet Chantal.

Speaker 4 5:01
My name is Sean Tarbell. I’m one of the cofounders of Sirona health through and a health is a digital health care platform supporting people going through various life transitions as we call it. So supporting people going through different phases of health care conditions.

Leanne Elliott 5:16
Our next guest we have a lord is only fair that we have a dame Dame Carol black. She is a physician, a government advisor, and one was president of the Royal College of Physicians for four years. She is also a world expert in scleroderma.

Speaker 5 5:31
I think I’m very well known for housework and well being because I’ve written three reports for government. And it has changed I think the way people think about health and well being in the workplace.

Al Elliott 5:45
And last, but certainly not least, Kathy Abernathy, who is a nurse who specializes in menopause. She worked for the NHS for 25 years, and then became the founding clinician at peppy health, which is an employee wellness platform that’s got me coffee.

Speaker 6 6:01
I’m Kathy Abernathy on the chief nursing officer at Pepe, Pepe health. We’re a healthcare app. And we offer employers an innovative way of offering support to their people through a digital app with real human experts like

Leanne Elliott 6:13
me. So now we’ve met our panel, let’s ask them some tough questions. There are five things that we will be quizzing our guests on this week. Number one, what is the gender health gap? And why does it matter? To Why isn’t the NHS the solution? Three? How does this affect business and employees? For what can owners and leaders do? And five? How can we create a healthier future for everyone? It is a jam packed episode. Let’s get started. So first up, what is the health gap? And why does it matter?

Al Elliott 6:48
Yes, most people talk about the health gap in terms of economic terms. So poverty, wealth, that’s the health gap. I know we are talking specifically the UK here because I know that in America, the health system is very different. Also UK people, British people can’t really understand how it works across there, you have to pay for things, but over here it is free. But it still means there is this gap. So the economic health gap is certainly a problem as Lord Bethel explains

Speaker 1 7:11
some if you are poverty itself, lack of access to health support. The pressures of life and bad environments, living in an environment where there’s dirty air or lack of access to public spaces. These are all the cycles of tough lives of poverty and and of living in environments that don’t support healthy living. So that’s the, that’s the macro environment in the UK at the moment, it’s really hitting us hard and it’s cost the NHS a lot. It’s costing our workforce a lot means our welfare bills as a nation are really high.

Al Elliott 7:50
Despite her current status, Dan Carroll black actually had a really, really modest upbringing. And so she can totally relate to the connection between poverty and poor

Speaker 5 7:58
health, you need health to be an asset, you need a healthy population. And I think you’ve got to start pretty early in life. Child poverty in our country is a huge problem. And the government puts the same amount of resource into a wealthy child, as a porter,

Al Elliott 8:17
as an adviser to the government. She definitely feels that the government could be doing more to help those who come from lower socio economic backgrounds.

Speaker 5 8:24
Well, I think you would think, possibly, you need to compensate for poverty in childhood, because children have no choice, do they? And you don’t want children growing up in poverty to fix their physical health and mental health, educational potential, their potential in life. I don’t like to see that.

Leanne Elliott 8:47
But it’s not just economics that leads to a health gap. There’s also a very clear gender health gap, as Lord Bethel explains,

Speaker 1 8:55
so overall, there since the beginning of history, we have always overlooked women’s health. So we, this takes several forms, we knit, we don’t listen to women very well. And they say they have a problem, we tend to brush it off. And this is particularly heard in mental health, where we tend to put things down to well, we just have a institutionally patronizing approach and don’t listen to and, and the current focus on both menstruation and menopause would be really good examples of that. We don’t put women in, we don’t research women’s problems. So a classic example of that is a heart attack. So the way in which a heart attack presents itself in a man or a woman is really different from man, it is typically a sort of a quite a violent, sort of heart based problem. And for woman, it will be a feeling of tiredness. So in other words, the basic diagnosis of something as common and big as a heart attack. We just take a man centric approach and therefore a lot of women get overlooked. Autism is another good example. The statistics seem to suggest that autism is as common in women as it is in men. We just don’t diagnose it because it takes a different form.

Leanne Elliott 10:13
There are conditions that a lot of men might not know about. And often women won’t be willing to talk about. Let’s hear from Chantal.

Speaker 4 10:21
So I think everyone should know about these conditions. You know, endometriosis, just for those of you don’t know is a condition where the lining of the uterus grows and other parts of the body lining lining similar to the lining of the uterus, I should say. And, yeah, it affects one in 10, women or people with uteruses. And it’s extremely painful. I think a few years ago, Google listed it as one of the top 10 most painful conditions to have. So you know, one in 10, women are going through this in the workplace. And with no support, quite frankly, it takes eight to nine years to diagnose. And there really is no treatment or no cure for this condition. So it’s more kind of around surgery and management of removing the affected parts and then managing the condition. So from a male’s perspective, you know, just at least understanding what the kind of symptoms are of these conditions and how you can support your your fellow colleagues in the workplace, I think it’s super important.

Leanne Elliott 11:14
But when it comes to mental health, men are often guilty of doing the same

Speaker 4 11:18
women quite naturally, acts as healthcare, ask questions, and quite open to that. But men typically kind of hide a lot of these issues internally. And unfortunately, you see kind of higher suicide rates, etc. When it comes to the men and mental health. So what we’ve done, we spent a lot of time actually working on our men’s health proposition, we worked with someone who was a GP in the Royal Navy. So a male heavy organization to help shape the Men’s Health offerings realized that, you know, men access health care quite differently. And we’ve provided support in a way in which may easily access these these things on the app. So for example, we have a discrete set of health coaches, we say, or health physicians. So instead of having to go to a doctor or see someone in person, on video, for example, you can just ask a discrete question on the on the health chat, and they will answer it for you and help you with your your treatment pathway.

Al Elliott 12:11
So it seems like is the solution that everyone gets the same access to and levels of healthcare? The real issue is something which Kathy calls equity versus equality.

Speaker 6 12:21
Yeah, so it’s about treating everybody fairly, but not necessarily the same. So we believe that people of all genders deserve specific individualized health care. And that’s what we offer we offer specialized men’s house, specialized women’s house, baby care support, fertility, support menopause support, and that will differ according to each individual person. So that’s equity, rather than just offering everybody the same and saying, just take the bits of it that say you

Al Elliott 12:46
I’ve heard this term before you’ve used it before. Still don’t think I fully understand what equity versus equality means. Can you explain it for us,

Leanne Elliott 12:54
I saw a really good explanation on LinkedIn actually, the difference between equality and equity. Let’s imagine that everybody wanted a bicycle, but you have men, you have women, you have children and people with disabilities, they’re gonna require a different size of bike, if we were focusing on equality, you’d give everybody the same bike, regardless of their specific circumstances or needs, equity would be about adjusting the bicycle to meet the individual needs of each person. That makes sense. That makes perfect sense. Really, it said Lord Bethel points out that a lot of drugs are tested for the male and not the female body. And this caused a huge problem during the COVID vaccine rollout.

Speaker 1 13:34
And then lastly, in terms of researching drugs, drugs that help men are very heavily researched, and drugs that help women are often overlooked and drugs that help both. They tend to be researched for men and not and not for women. And I was very frustrated in the pandemic, that yet again, we didn’t do clinical trials for pregnant women. Why didn’t we do it because of a anxiety that if there was a problem with the clinical trial, it would have massive consequences, because who the hell wants to try out a drug on a pregnant woman and that to lead to some kind of problem, but that like lack of courage and lack of thoughtfulness does mean that a whole bunch of women who have children can’t then take the vaccine, in the knowledge that’s been passed for it for safety tests,

Leanne Elliott 14:24
you may think that we’re lucky in the UK and to a large extent we are we do have free health care through the NHS and National Health Service. But it’s not quite that simple. So why is the NHS not able to fix this problem?

Al Elliott 14:39
So this brings us on to the second part, which is why isn’t the NHS the solution? The problem of the NHS, it was founded in 1948. So just after World War Two, now designed for this population who’ve been through two world wars in like 20 years, it wasn’t designed originally for today’s complex problems which might be physical them might be mental and might be emotional. Let’s hear from Lord Bethel,

Speaker 1 15:03
we have a wonderful asset, a massive National Achievement in the NHS, and the principle that the NHS will pick you up and put you back on your feet when you when you’ve taken a hit, and that, that access to the NHS creates a secondary impression that somehow the NHS will, will fix all the problems of the of the country when it comes to physical and mental health. I think there’s only so much the NHS on itself on its own can do. And it does come back to others individuals, employers, communities, civic groups to try to make a contribution to health, the determinants of health are much wider and broader than then the government or the NHS can look after. In fact, the NHS is a sickness service really, it looks after you when you are when you are ill, and should be able to give you access to the tools like vaccines and diagnostics that that help you on your health journey. But the determinants of good health are much wider than that

Leanne Elliott 16:12
sometimes platforms for and a health is built on providing this kind of service that the NHS can’t realistically fulfill. It’s not just a strategy that requires updating, some of the methods are pretty archaic, too. We love it,

Speaker 4 16:25
and we love it. And NHS, you know, it’s great at what it does. But equally, you know, it’s a big old organization with some archaic ways of working, I think the one thing I would say is kind of ensuring that that data is accessible and can be kind of transferred back and forth. You know, NHS, a lot of NHS Trusts or use papers, for example, to kind of store their notes. So just updating that and moving more into the digital world, I think would help make the patient experience a lot better. But I think we’re a little bit of a long way away from that. Yeah, I’m not too sure how quickly that would happen. But fingers crossed soon.

Leanne Elliott 17:02
Kathy from Pepe health agrees with Lord Bethel. But as you remember, she spent 25 years in the NHS, so she has an inside view.

Speaker 6 17:11
I’m still a strong advocate for the NHS, even though I don’t work in it anymore. And I still pay my dues to the NHS, I sit on the menopause guideline group. And I work with NHS England to try and improve care in menopause within the NHS. But I think what’s happened is that the NHS is under immense pressure. And the staff are therefore under an immense pressure. They’re doing an almost impossible job. Now, could I fix the NHS? I would not like to be the person to have to do that. But does it need fixing? Yes, at its best. It’s amazing. That’s why apps such as Pepe are so important to complement, not replace the NHS at the end of the day that we’re people who want to be treated like people. So we want to treat people the way that we would be treated. And we’ve seen that that this is a real gap. And the areas of Pepe are areas which the NHS don’t support very well at the moment due to the pressures that we’ve been talking about. So Pepys stepping in not to replace the NHS, but to fill that gap. Yeah, so a good example is endometriosis. Where, if a person has endometriosis, it takes a very long time to get a diagnosis. If somebody joins our Women’s Health Service, or specialized women’s health service, they have access to an experienced and qualified endometriosis nurse who can take them through the pathway of diagnosis, telling them the options so that when they do go to their healthcare practitioner, they’re really well equipped for that consultation. And it can save time enormously. And they know their options. And Pepe can even do testing for some of the conditions as well.

Al Elliott 18:37
Chantelle, the founder of Sirona, health agrees,

Speaker 4 18:41
and we’ve had a few patients kind of reach out to us saying, oh, you know, I’m struggling to get an appointment on the NHS, for example, or it’s just taking so long, I’m in so much pain. So we’ve helped connect them with some of our physicians on the platform they’ve gone on to actually receive a diagnosis much quicker than they would have done on the NHS, had, they’d waited. So the good thing about what we do is that we can refer back into the NHS but also help people go private, if that’s something they would like to do.

Al Elliott 19:11
So it seems clear that there’s no gonna, there’s gonna be no quick solution from the NHS to this health gap. It’s not going to happen overnight. And more and more business owners and leaders are seeing the impacts of this poor mental and physical health in the workplace. So we’re gonna go into section three, which is all about how does this health gap affect businesses and leaders? The first one is a problem of retention. Your key people are leaving work early as Dame Karen explains,

Speaker 5 19:41
after COVID You’d have seen a lot in the paper of people leaving the workplace. They were mainly people who were 50 Plus are experienced workers who we need in the workplace. They were leaving, and probably the most important reason is long term. ill health. So chronic conditions, you know, their diabetes has got worse, their arthritis has got worse, they perhaps need a knee replacement. But it means they can’t be in the workplace. And that has caused an enormous problem. Everywhere you look there vacances people are looking for skilled people, because so many people left the workplace, that there are vacancies, or skills that greatly needed. So I think you have to look at the balance. But the biggest worry for me, it exposes that we are an unhealthy population.

Leanne Elliott 20:37
Lord Bethel is a commissioner for health and prosperity. And one of the biggest problems he sees is that although we are living longer, we are able to work less.

Speaker 1 20:46
In other words, although the total amount of time people spend on the earth is getting longer the amount of time, the proportion of that time that they’re spending actually healthy. Is is reducing in many demographic groups. And that’s just a heartbreaking and economic ly depressing fact. And in the time that they aren’t at work, their productivity is not increasing in the way that it has historically climbed. And there are a number of reasons for that. Some of them are monetary, for instance, inflation, some of them are about investing in infrastructure and training. But one of them is about the health of the nation, the physical and mental health of the nation, how much time people can spend working the state they’re in when they are at work, and also their resilience to adversity, which is an inevitable part of life. It’s not, firstly isn’t a bad thing. But when people can’t cope, and their work suffers, then, then that’s not just bad for them personally, and for their families, it becomes in aggregate, a real problem for the nation’s economy. The stats

Leanne Elliott 21:57
are almost unbelievable. In the UK, nearly a million people have left the workforce in the last three years. And we don’t really know what they’ve left to do. Nearly a million people

Speaker 1 22:07
have left the workforce for what we don’t quite know what, why they have left. And what they are now doing what what we do know is that in the mix, our mental health pressures, physical pressures, and for some, just a desire to leave the workplace and to spend more time smelling smelling the flowers and hanging out with their families. And for some of those people, hanging out with families is not not a relaxed thing. It’s it’s caring for someone who is already quite poorly. What we also know is that the people who leave the workforce, for one reason or another, quite often then go on to develop quite serious chronic disease, and then become disabled. So people aren’t leaving the workforce in order, because they’re disabled, they leave the workforce and then become disabled.

Al Elliott 23:02
So I had to ask Lobethal why do we think they’re leaving

Speaker 1 23:05
for some people, I think there’s just an enormous amount of frustration that their skills haven’t developed, the salaries have gone sideways. And for them the benefits when they when they look at the effort, benefit analysis of working there, just not feeling very inspired by it. For some people, they found the workforce, the workplace, really quite a traumatic space to be in and I was very moved, listening to the testimony of nurses who have found that the management of their work environment is just so chaotic, that they feel that they are put under undue pressure, that the hierarchical and sometimes racist and sometimes sexist environment within the NHS is something that have has led them to feel very bruised and and like they they want to be somewhere else. So there is a there is in some workplaces. A toxic element that’s that’s literally pushing people away. And then lastly, the there seems to be a problem with the support we’re giving people just to conduct the everyday realities of life to to be able to get their kids to school on time, to have the childcare to support their support their families to have reasonable amounts of time off for maternity and paternity leave, to be able to learn new skills and have the financial and practical support to progress their careers in the right direction, and deliver them to working in an environment where they feel safe and supported.

Al Elliott 24:43
So it would seem the solution would be they would just recruit younger fitter people to replace those leaving. Dame Carol black seems to think it’s not quite as simple as that.

Speaker 5 24:52
We haven’t got people for jobs, because for many, many years, the sad truth often not talked about As our young people, our 16 to 24 year olds have been getting having worse health, mainly mental health. And they have been increasingly not going into the workplace. So the young ones in the workplace, but the older worker was holding it up if you like, the whole, the older worker was the pillar that was supporting the economy COVID came, and after COVID, that 50 plus workforce has actually diminished hugely.

Leanne Elliott 25:35
And even if we do manage to hold on to our key employees, there’s a good chance that a large percentage of them are disengaged due to health issues, menopause and perimenopause affect women between 40 and 55. So even if they don’t leave, it’s reasonable to assume that productivity is affected

Speaker 6 25:54
the menopause. Some people might not even know what the menopause is, but it’s when your periods stop. If it was just that it would be fine. But it’s because the menopause is associated with what we call the perimenopause. And that’s the symptoms. And it’s the symptoms that affect people at work, things like flashes and sweats, brain fog memory issues, if someone’s going through the menopause, they will know those symptoms. And if you’re experiencing those symptoms at home, then you take them to work with you. So they have a real impact. And when you consider that women have a menopausal age, so women around 50 were the fastest growing demographic in the workplace.

Al Elliott 26:26
So we’re painting a bit of a grim picture here, and it’s one that is likely going to be replicated across the world. So as business owners as business leaders, is this something we can actually do about it? So we asked her panel, what can owners and leaders actually do,

Leanne Elliott 26:41
then Kara knows exactly where the blame lies. So let

Speaker 5 26:44
me say straight up front, Zumba classes, water bottles, and fresh fruit. A mindfulness training is nice, nice to have. But it is plastering over the cracks. So the fundamentals are really empowering leadership from the top, who show they care and who talk about it. It’s a board is interested if you have a board in your organization, or your top managers really talking about this, taking it seriously being interested in the health of your workforce. harsh but true

Speaker 2 27:27
fruit in the break room or not a difference make if we don’t look at the bigger picture. As we’ve always said, great managers are one of the three cornerstones of an amazing workplace culture. A bad manager, as Lord Bethel explains, is worse than no manager and good

Speaker 1 27:44
leaders deliver that. And bad leaders are destructive, and leave a bad taste in the mouth and a feeling that one wants to kind of not do another meeting like that. And that used to be okay, in the old days where you just wrote lists and ticked off when people have done their tasks. But very rarely these days, does that actually lead to, you know, the completion of the objective?

Leanne Elliott 28:14
And of course, no conversation about culture would be complete without the C word. That’s the word COVID.

Speaker 1 28:21
You know, we all knows a lot of people at the moment, who have been through the financial crisis been to COVID who have been through life’s attritional traumas, who just feel a bit overwhelmed. And and it just makes sense for thought for employers who, who want to create the best environment for people to work in and to hold on to their workers for as long as is reasonable to have a think about how they, how they can support them, and to get and therefore to get more out of them for their shareholders and fulfill their fiduciary duties.

Al Elliott 29:00
So you’d think probably that the more complex the organization, the better the leaders will be. Well, some of them are one of the most complex organizations in the UK is the government. And it’s no different there he is Lord battle to explain his experience.

Speaker 1 29:13
I’ve just done two years in pandemic government, I can tell you not all the meetings were high fiving and body bumps, you know, they were, there were some there were some really tough moments. But the good managers somehow managed to deliver the message but leave a sense of positivity on the table, that people leave the room, the resume, thinking that you know that the world’s gonna be alright. And you need that in a collaborative environment. You know, the world is much more complicated. We don’t have single roles. We don’t we don’t perform tasks and so by sequence bases, in order to get anything done, the modern world you have to work in teams, and everyone has to trust each other and have quite a lot of nonverbal communication and and leaf in the in the in the ability of others to deliver I don’t want

Leanne Elliott 30:03
to get political but I think you’ve and you know the various simple example of, of the disruption that inconsistent leadership can have. Maybe look at the UK in the past four years in the how many prime ministers have we had now three

Al Elliott 30:18
994, prime ministers and 384. One thing that Lord Bethel does say, though, it is down to the leaders to create great places and to fix this health gap wherever we possibly can.

Speaker 1 30:33
Now, being a supportive employer During such times it’s something that I think most employers would regard as the traditional role of a thoughtful, kind and pragmatic employer who’s trying to retain a skilled and cohesive workforce. But I think that there’s also an additional element that’s really become important in people’s minds. And that is creating a a workplace that endeavors to support strong values, and in which celebrates the kind of environment that people can really thrive in. What what we’ve become more aware of is that the pressures on people from their social interactions with each other can become much more debilitating and much more a barrier to peak performance than perhaps we had once given appreciation for if you have an environment where people are not respectful of each other, where values of equality are not upheld, where personal behaviors compete, Cahors, co coercive or dominating, then that can create a culture and an environment, which leaves people feeling quite traumatized and hurt and feeling like they can’t get through the working week in the way that they could.

Al Elliott 32:02
Now going back to this gender health gap, the menopause and perimenopause affects women generally sort of around the age of 50. Although I’m pretty surely on menopause, perimenopause can start

Leanne Elliott 32:12
at like 30 8:30am Set perimenopause, typically around 43,

Al Elliott 32:16
there we go. So we’re talking about a good potentially 15 years of discomfort for some women. And these are often our most experienced employees, they have the skills and the potential to be able to mentor younger people, if they’re not at their best if we’re not catering to them, as business owners as leaders, if we’re not doing all we possibly can to make their lives better. It just doesn’t bode well for the organization. Traditionally, this would be a relatively difficult going back maybe 30 years or so a difficult conversation, I think to bring up at work. But these days, Kathy and Chantal, and everyone is saying that it needs to be more in the conversation. So I asked Kathy, all right, we have to we have to do this, how does leaders broach the subject, and particularly in the context, if you’re a male leader?

Speaker 6 33:03
Well, menopause is private. And there will certainly be some people who don’t want to talk about it. And that’s fine. And that’s where it differs from some other health issues. But actually, if you’re experiencing these symptoms, and they’re really impacting you, then it means that you’re taking time off work, or maybe you’re coming to work, but not doing your job as effectively as you’d like to, it could mean that you’re not going for that promotion. And we know that one in 10 women actually leave work because of their menopause. And part of that can be addressed because these people are senior women, they’ve been long established workers, they’re good people to keep in the business. So it’s very definitely a business issue, as well as a personal one. So first of all, get the conversation going. That means having things like menopause cafes, or champions in the workplace, to make sure it’s an easy conversation. That’s the first step. I think the second step is to make sure that your leaders are trained, so they need to know what menopause is, how it happens, what happens the way that people might be affected in the workplace. And that might mean a program of education, perhaps incorporating it into your mandatory training, for example, every aspect of your mandatory training will have a menopause aspect to it if you think about it. And then I think finally, particularly for me, as a clinician, it’s about coming alongside and offering people personalized support, so it’s great to talk about it. It’s great to train people, but actually people want one on one help and that’s what we do at Pepe, if you

Leanne Elliott 34:25
do want to hear more about menopause, perimenopause and what you can do as a leader to support the women in your business. Do go back to our previous episode on women’s health a guide for male leaders. I will leave a link in the show notes but of course it’s not just perimenopause or the menopause that affects women differently. Lord Bethel has a heartbreaking story about his mother who’s suffered from postnatal depression.

Speaker 1 34:47
I have a I have a lens for this because my mother was really the victim of of this syndrome in a big way. She had postnatal depression, which was completely brought stuff as a condition when she was a young woman, and and she was just considered to be insane. She was given electroshock treatment, which is an incredibly brutal treatment for something that requires a completely different approach. Her marriage broke down, she fell into addiction with drugs and alcohol, for which she was very heavily derided, and sort of basically abandoned by, by the family. And her and her GP ended up having an affair with her, and was going to leave his wife, but guess what never did. So she was literally abused by the medical professionals who were meant to be looking after her. And she died in the bath, slipped under the water in a drink and drug haze. When she was 35, I was 10 years old. Basically, she was a victim of

Leanne Elliott 35:58
being a woman, as business owners and leaders, we have an obligation to not only make our workplaces a better place, but wherever possible, the world a better place. So how can we create a healthier future for everyone?

Al Elliott 36:13
So let’s hear from Lord Bethel. First,

Speaker 1 36:15
we reckon that we should be recognizing that employees are not disposable, that they’re not easy to replace, and there isn’t an endless supply of them. And therefore, if their health, both mental and physical, is going to be one of the reasons why they drop out of the workforce and leave your country, your company, then, for goodness sake, have a think about what you can do to support them. So when

Al Elliott 36:40
I interviewed Lord Bethel, I kind of challenged him a little bit on this, I was like, you know, as business owner, our budgets are stretched inflation, fuel costs, everything’s going up. It’s a tough, tough time to be in business. I kind of said in a very polite way, what the hell do you know about running a business, you already said that he’s a self confessed, confessed public school boy who’s got a hereditary pair seems very far from us, actually, at the coalface. Turns out, back, when I was quite a lot about running a business,

Speaker 1 37:09
and I used to run an SME I, I’ve run three or four of them. And most recently, I built up a consultancy, and sold it before I went into the house of lords. And all right, I used to despair if somebody held my hands. Sometimes that, you know, the sheer cost of all the additional benefits and support and investment that was required of my people. The only thing that I also found though was was the people leaving my business was even more expensive. I mean, the biggest cost was, you know, really valued employee who had a big impact on the work, who was loved by colleagues and clients, when they left, and you have to recruit someone else and bring them in, oh, my goodness, that cost a lot of money. And I used to wake up in my mind as just being a diff, just creating the resilience of my own business, how do I it was a people business. And if they weren’t happy, then the business didn’t, didn’t work. And it was

Al Elliott 38:23
quite refreshing to hear him say that the solution isn’t always just to throw money at the problem. It’s more

Speaker 1 38:29
difficult than it used to be, you used to be able to, I think, you know, be old fashioned brash, leading from the front type, and people were prepared to jog along with that. But now, I think you have to be a lot more thoughtful. And it’s not just money. It’s not just extra maternity leave and free yoga. It is the, it is the way in which people are managed, it’s create, I think it comes back to basic good management, that you’re giving people an overall mission, a role within that mission, the tools to be able to complete the task, and, and the interactions necessary to make them feel like they are working in collaboration with management and are valued and, and, and, and making a contribution to life. So I think most of it is about good management rather than opening the checkbook and and just spraying cash around.

Leanne Elliott 39:26
And surprisingly, damn, Carol takes a very sensible approach to all of this. She suggests that we start preparing the current generation for the workplace.

Speaker 5 39:36
But I think we’ve got to start to think of health as an asset from when we’re very young. Capital. You know, we’ve talked about human capital, we’ve talked about knowledge is that capital, to start to think about how do we build that human capital that resilience so that we can do far more in the community? I would be old fashioned enough to think I Have a nurse in every school, I’d start to go back to some of the things that hopefully would stop the NHS being so loaded. And I think we put up with a lot. And we just thought that somehow, if you had a mental health problem, you were a weak person. And we’ve had to change that. It is not mental health is just as important as physical health.

Leanne Elliott 40:27
Let’s go back to Kathy Abernathy. He’s one of the UK’s leading menopause experts, she says it’s okay if leaders don’t know exactly what to do. But instead of guessing, try asking,

Speaker 6 40:37
it is an issue that affects everybody. I mean, everybody’s got either a partner or a sister or a work colleague, maybe a daughter, who is going to go through menopause one day. So we have to see this as being something which just affects the whole workplace. And if we can get that conversation. So to such a degree that actually everyone’s open and talking about it, it becomes much easier for all genders to talk about it. So it doesn’t become just a male or female issue. If somebody if a company was to put out a survey, for example, and ask their people what they want in a workplace in relation to menopause, you’d get some surprising answers. The most obvious is access to things like fans on desk air conditioning, hybrid working has been really good for some people going through the menopause, they can sit in their own home at whatever temperature they want to be. But for others, it’s very isolating, and they want the support of their colleagues. So it is coming and asking the individuals what they want. There has

Leanne Elliott 41:31
been a flurry of platforms and apps released recently under the broad term EAP. EAP is an employee assistance program and can help with anything from financial planning to health care. Lord Bethel is very supportive of this approach.

Speaker 1 41:48
There’s definitely a role for digital mental health support of the kind that many companies are now investing in. And many companies, particularly white collar companies, who are trying to find ways in which to support employees are using the latest apps and algorithms to give their employees another way of thinking through their issues of finding forms of mindfulness, of bringing discipline to the physical regime and programs. Talking through their their issues, and also, at times, asking for help, and the science on that is developing. But I am hopeful that some of those will provide an interesting letter of support.

Al Elliott 42:43
Chantal is one of the founders of Cerrone, health, which is exactly one of these apps which are designed to help with health, she explains that she kind of sees this platform as essential for organizations.

Speaker 4 42:54
So this is kind of where I guess tools like kind of sironen Come in, come into play. So this is kind of how we support people. We discreet the support people going through conditions, such as enemy troops is helping them out with their treatment pathway, diagnosis, pathways, etc. And, yeah, our tool is very much applicable for all workplaces. We support organizations big and small. And yeah, I think it’s super important to support your your your workforces, what we see is a lot of these people going through these chronic conditions actually end up leaving the workforce. And the cost of replacement is actually quite significant. So supporting your workforce whilst they’re working is is is is the priority here.

Al Elliott 43:37
Kathy Abernathy from Pepe health totally agrees. So Pepe is there to provide one to one health advice to employees, which is paid for by the employer, but totally confidential and employee knows nothing about what goes on in these discussions.

Speaker 6 43:52
So you access Pepe through your mobile phone. So it’s a digital app. And it’s entirely confidential. So as an employee sign up to Pepe, but then when your people sign up with Pepe, that your employer doesn’t know that you signed up, they know a certain number of people have, but it’s entirely confidential. So when you’re talking to me and my team of practitioners, you’re talking to us privately, about your health issues, things that are important to you. And it’s all paid for by your employer, that in the NHS, I was able to support a handful of people in a clinic a day. What I love about the vision of Pepe is that I can support 1000s of people through the content that we have the events that we have, and the one to ones with my nurse practitioners. And so it’s such a broad service that can just meet so many more. And that for me, with my menopause hat on is what I really would like to do.

Leanne Elliott 44:41
Although Lord Bethel grew up with a very different background to most of us. As we’ve heard, he does have a lot of experience in industry and consulting and he genuinely believes that training managers and leaders is key. Listen, I’m

Speaker 1 44:53
a hereditary peer and a public school boy, you know, I was brought up to sort of, you know, sort of Victorian With Victorian values, which were extremely old fashioned, and then just not relevant in the modern digital age, and I went on to work in tech companies and, and then consulting and service companies, which have got completely different approach. So over the years, I’ve had several rounds of training on how to learn to work much more collaboratively much more thoughtfully and in a much more positive way. And I think that’s a that’s a really good thing,

Leanne Elliott 45:29
Lord Bethel and his literal peers. That’s a UK joke. They had some mandatory training recently in the House of Lords, some of his peers did not take to it Well, Lord Bethel, on the other hand, really got something out of it.

Speaker 1 45:42
Even in the House of Lords, we had done training on interacting with colleagues. And it hit headlines when some peers didn’t want to do it. But I for one found it incredibly helpful. Because although I regard myself as a reasonable person, we all have to accept that we don’t have a monopoly on on wisdom, and having someone come in and just giving you a bit of a update on changing work environment, I think is incredibly helpful. I think the two areas that we’ve all had to adjust a bit on is the old fashioned idea of leadership, but a great emphasis on directional alpha type behaviors, where were the senior hierarchy imposed, strong, strong, strong direction on junior members and, and lead from the front in a sort of quasi military kind of way. And we’ve learned that that doesn’t get the best out of people. And actually, it can lead to people feeling quite traumatized if they’ve used it overwritten and trampled on. So I think we’ve all had to learn to be a little bit more conceptual, and to use our ears as much as our mouths when we’re trying to lead groups of people.

Al Elliott 47:05
Nadine, Carol totally agrees. But she’s feels that education needs to happen before we even hit the workplace.

Speaker 5 47:11
I’ve seen my own generation. My cousin’s particularly die for me, due to poor health, do I think, to poverty, poor education, and a lack of resources? So I was the lucky one. But it doesn’t make it okay for the rest. So

Al Elliott 47:36
one of the questions we always ask anyone on a panel is, what would it look like if we got this right? Lord Bethel feels the employer has a very, very important part to play,

Speaker 1 47:46
what I would like to think is that there would be a feeling of consideration and thoughtfulness and that and that the employer would have the resources, either through private insurance, or through some kind of referral mechanism, that if that if the person lady involved, did turn to the employer for help, they would know how to guide them to the right place. And I think that that would be a valuable thing. If it had been my mother. And she’d gone to her employer, I would hope the employer would at least have the expertise and the and the network to be able to walk her over to someone who could help.

Al Elliott 48:30
Kathy, our menopause expert has got a very specific example of when she realized that peppy health, we’re doing great things.

Speaker 6 48:38
It’s the one the lady who had brain fog, memory issues. She was struggling at work, her manager directed her to Pepe, she sat with us chatting to our practitioners. And then eventually, after a few months of intense support, she said to me, you know, my daughter said to me last night, I’ve got my mum back. That’s what really touches me.

Al Elliott 48:57
So should the government be doing more? Well, let’s go and ask someone who was in the government He is Lord Bethel,

Speaker 1 49:02
but government has it has a important leadership role, partly to indicate what the new norms are and partly to create a level playing field to reduce competitive advantage around sort of not not not sort of non alignment. What I mean by that is on things like maternity leave, paternity leave, bereavement leave timeout for what used to be called do they do they days for for people who are feeling a bit overwhelmed that the kind of support that individuals need in very highly pressured modern digital workplaces is something where I think the government can provide a degree of regulatory guidance and tramlines.

Al Elliott 49:51
I kind of feel sorry sometimes for people in the government because it feels like no matter what they do, there’s one half of the country saying that’s a great idea when half the country sends a really bad idea. I think that we need to have this sort of like even approach to it. Lobethal says yes, we don’t want to be wrapping people up in red tape. But we still do want to be providing some kind of guideline, I think we’re

Speaker 1 50:10
all conscious of not drowning employers and entrepreneurs in red tape and an onerous costs that create a lack of competitive competitivity. On the world, in the world market. On the other hand, resilient workforces are essential to maintaining productivity and competitiveness. So I think I think there is an area there where businesses and government can work together.

Leanne Elliott 50:39
For those that say, this is a generational thing. This is a snowflake thing. But Bethel has a rebuttal.

Speaker 1 50:46
These all should be now, management priorities. You wouldn’t think you know, 20 years ago, we didn’t worry about cybersecurity. We didn’t worry about data privacy. And now they are all absolutely fundamental parts of most, most businesses, and it’s higher up on the C suite responsibilities, whether that C suite is, you know, the small business owner or, or the big corporate. And I’m arguing that health is now whether you like it or not on the list, and you need anyone running a business needs to be thinking about how they preserve the mental and physical health of their workforce.

Al Elliott 51:26
Well, it’s been a bit of a bumper episode, we had five main questions we wanted to ask, we’ve asked the panel, each one of those, I think they’ve been answered pretty well. What do you think Lee?

Leanne Elliott 51:36
Yeah, I think they’ve been answered pretty well, I think what I would, I would maybe wonder if there are some business leaders that are now kind of thinking, oh, man, this is something else I need to think about. I think it’s more that these are probably things you’re already thinking about. Because you have processes in place, you have your EAP in place, it’s maybe just building your wealth, awareness of these inequities, perhaps exist in your workforce, or indeed the specific needs that that the people in your business, depending on their demographics, are going to experience over the next few years. And I think Women’s Health is a really easy place to start. But of course it is. There are many different areas of health of health gaps. We’ve not even delved in to a lot of them. So I think really, it’s just about being mindful, being aware. So there’s somebody in your business doors experienced this type of challenge, it’s not going to be completely novel or unexpected.

Al Elliott 52:28
Isn’t it nice as a business owner for someone to go? Do you know what you don’t have to be all across this? You don’t have to be like, experts at it yet. But as long as you’re thinking about it, as long as you’re asking what Pete what your employees want and what support you can provide you probably about 70% of the way there.

Leanne Elliott 52:44
Yeah, I agree. And of course, our guests offers some incredible resources that you can check out to learn more. If you would like to learn more about menopause and how you as a leader can be supporting your employees through this, go to pappy health or check out Cathy’s links in the show notes.

Al Elliott 53:00
If you like us believe that healthcare should be gender inclusive, not gender exclusive. Then go to Sirona SY rRNA, Cerrone Or check out Chantelle links in the show notes. We’ll also

Leanne Elliott 53:14
leave links down Carol black and Lorde, Bethel, including their pages where you can find all the different things they are currently working with in terms of health within the government. So yeah, go and check it out. I think if you’re looking for a bit of thought leadership there and what’s going to happen over the next few years, it’s a good place to start.

Al Elliott 53:33
I’ll also leave a link to my favorite ministry, the sound album on Spotify. So thank you for putting that together. Lord Bethel. That’s your favorite on a popular music playing streaming app. I have a playlist for ministry of Sam Jeff just called MOS butter. Yeah, I’ll leave a link to that. I had it

Leanne Elliott 53:48
I had a CD. It’s my favorite CDs and years of Ministry of Sound funky house.

Al Elliott 53:53
That’s the one I That’s That’s mine. Oh, yeah, the same one. So thank you, Lobethal for all of your for your service. Thank you. All right, we will see you next week for yet another episode. If you’re on YouTube. To some favor, click the subscribe button. We’re probably up to about 20 subscribers now

Leanne Elliott 54:09
ringing that bell.

Al Elliott 54:12
We’re not doing that. We’re not doing that. Alright, so we’ll see you next week. Bye for now. Hi.

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