It is during turbulent times that innovation shines and the fear of daring to try something new dissipates. Over the last 10 weeks, Rob Stephenson and I embarked on an ambitious project – to bring the world together and discuss mental health in the workplace and the solutions we should be pursuing to deliver positive change. We wanted to raise funds for the WHO Covid-19 fund and to organise a dedicated free event for NHS workers in the UK on 1 July to assist in their recovery. On 18 May, to coincide with the UK’s Mental Health Awareness Week, the G24 Summit was born and 65 speakers from 12 countries joined us for a 24-hour virtual summit that started at 9am in Sydney and finished at 5pm in San Francisco.
We have all been affected in different ways during this crisis and this has been well documented over recent weeks. Cramped working conditions at home, home schooling, having to say goodbye to loved ones via a video link, being so connected virtually to family and friends but not able to hug, furlough and the threat of redundancy and above all, we have all had our freedoms taken away and now strangely see another human being as a potential threat to our health…how I miss hugs.
In normal times, my team and I deliver live Wellbeing @ Work Summits in 15 cities around the world and it is our collective mission to demonstrate the value of wellbeing in the workplace to businesses around the world and help them to create organisations where they and their employees can thrive. That mission was put on-hold when Covid-19 began its devastating spread across the world and lockdown for so many countries became the norm. However, the mental health of our people did not stop and only became more important as our world was turned upside down, so it was critical to continue this conversation.
I have observed with interest over the last five years that the conversation around wellbeing and mental health in the workplace has developed globally. More and more organisations, both large and small, are now taking this seriously as the benefit to business is proved and compassionate leaders and boards are keen to develop healthy workplace cultures. However, I was completely blown away by all the conversations that took place at #G24 on Monday, from all corners of the world, proving to me that we are making incredible progress across the globe.
This blog would be 20 pages long if I was to talk about the merits of every session that took place but all had their own qualities of great leadership, honesty, kindness, solutions, advice, vulnerability and call to action, providing our global audience invaluable insights. For me, it was my interview with Claude Silver, Chief Heart Officer from VaynerX, conducted after I have been awake for 23 hours, that gave me the most pleasure. Claude has been a trailblazer for kindness in the workplace and for me this session encapsulated #G24 (plus it is very unlike me to go anywhere near the stage!)
Organisations around the world have been placing employee wellbeing and mental health firmly at the top of the agenda for a while now and compassionate leadership teams did so long before the COVID crisis. The big shift I have seen over recent weeks has been from those companies who did not focus on the importance of this subject until now. What we saw at #G24 on Monday was a heightened awareness from companies across the world, conversations developing to forge new partnerships and data to demonstrate the value to corporates. We are all playing our part in this story and therefore we are all part of the solution so let’s continue the positive strides towards healthy workplaces and cultures, let’s continue to share best practice and knowledge and following the theme of this week’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, let’s show kindness towards each other as we emerge to a more compassionate society.
I would like to thank everyone who was part of this exciting event. Our global audience of attendees, the 65 amazing speakers from 12 countries who shared their knowledge, insights and vulnerability and to our amazing sponsors – Aetna International, Cirkularis8, Schroders Personal Wealth, Savannah Group and Maven Partners – all of whom backed us with our global experiment and enabled us to create a free event for NHS workers on 1 July.
#G24 will return later this year but in the meantime, you can access all the sessions from the entire 24-hour summit on-demand by clicking here.
Stay safe, stay connected and show #kindness