April 30, 2024 All Articles

Meet the Speaker: Deborah Croft, Co-CEO, Thriving Talent

We are delighted that Deborah will be speaking in Zurich this May as part of our Wellbeing at Work Summit Europe.

We caught up with her to find out how she’s feeling in the run up to the summit.

Hi Deborah, we are thrilled you will be speaking at our Wellbeing at Work Summit Europe in May. Our first and most important question is, how are you doing today?

Very well thank you. Having had a year in 2023 of juggling many balls, 2024 is feeling like I have more focus on well being for myself and for family and friends!

As a leader based in the region, what are the main challenges you are facing when it comes to employee wellbeing?

We strongly believe in walking the talk at Thriving Talent and the leadership team are very vocal as to how we ensure our own well being, so that everyone feels empowered and trusted to make the right choices to thrive at work and at home. The team who work with us are committed to our mission to humanise workplaces, which obviously gives us all a sense of purpose and/but poses the challenge that we need to ensure we keep our boundaries. Our challenge is to slow down sometimes, not to say yes to everything and to create space for creativity so we continue to amplify our message.

What strategies have you seen developing over the past 6 months, both internally and externally, that is moving the dial on wellbeing in the workplace?

Externally, over the last 18 months, there has been a growing focus on retention and engagement strategies that look beyond professional growth alone. Strategies that move the dial are the ones that have come from top down and reflect a genuine commitment to staff well being – reflected in enabling policies and leadership behaviours. Successful interventions are driven by HR and EDI teams working together, with accountability resting with leaders. There is a great deal of frustration when employees feel that “plasters” are offered to support a healthy integration of professional and personal lives, when the reality is the workload, pace and presenteeism post-COVID is increasing.

Internally, we have implemented Caring and Career as our strategy to ensure all the team members can navigate moments that matter in their life, without the fear, guilt and overwhelm that many have experienced in previous corporate roles. Examples include in the last 12 months: team members have changed hours schedule due to house projects, work from different locations at a week at a time to be closer to ageing parents, bring pets to meetings and socials when needed, have clear time in their schedule marked as “fitness”, work compressed hours during school holidays are a few. 

We introduced a Well Being Benefit in June 2023 for the full team to spend on whatever they need to support their Well Being for themselves and/or their loved ones.

We reduced our working hours without impacting salaries as of January 2024, reinforcing the message that we can work smartly and achieve our results in less time.

We have quarterly team retreats where everyone can come together and connect emotionally, reflect on successes, lessons learned and simply be with each other – with lovely food and wine to accompany those discussions!

Why is employee wellbeing so important to you personally?

I have a huge value around fairness and choice, both of which are foundations to well being in my opinion. When I moved to Switzerland 15 years ago, I was struck by the level of visible and invisible attrition, especially for those who had a caring role, typically females. It was neither fair nor necessary, and it is one of the biggest obstacles to equity in the workplace. I had come from a career in a multi-national company which was absolutely fast paced (and where I could question my own boundaries in my 20s and early 30s around well being!), but I was fully empowered to make choices. I could have conversations around flexible working, maximising my parental leave, using global mobility, having a less linear career path – without the fear of repercussions.

All of us have events happening in our lives – some anticipated, some not. We all know what we need at a moment in time, to make that event /life phase seem more manageable. Enabling employee wellbeing means employees feel trusted to make choices, so they are not looking back with regrets on times that you do not get again.

What are you most looking forward to about the Summit in May?

Exchanging with others, hearing stories, successes and challenges. I am passionate to be sharing about Caring and Career as a strategy where every employee can see themselves in it – and a strategy that has so many quick wins that HR leaders do not feel they have to beg, borrow or steal from the C suite to make the changes they want to see.

Tell us, what is your vision for the future workplace, in terms of engagement, health and wellbeing?

More curiosity, compassion and safety ask so that every employee can ask for what they need personally and professionally. Equally re-defining what a “successful leader” looks like – one who drives business results and who actively champions the philosophy of “Caring and Career” which is reflected in data – ie leader and full team leveraging policies, resources and training/coaching to help them navigate moments that matter, with choice.

What areas do you think employers should be focused on over the next 12 months?

Engagement, Development and Well Being of employees, to reduce the significant financial and emotional cost of visible and invisible attrition. This needs to be a business wide initiative which HR/EDI teams can actively support but leaders in the business need to be accountable for achieving OKRs/KPIs.

How has your organisation been leading the way?

Internally by adopting Caring and Career as our strategy and one that every team member benefits from. The fact that the teams openly share through the communication channels and/or calendars when they are leveraging our policies and resources to enable them to thrive at work and at home, reflects the safety we all feel.

Externally, we focus on driving awareness by sharing the Caring and Career strategy at events like Well Being at Work and resources to internal HR/EDI experts to help them influence internally. We provide consultancy, training and/or coaching to accelerate the learning for companies to nurture more humane, equitable and inclusive workplaces.

Deborah will be speaking in Zurich at the Wellbeing at Work Summit Europe which takes place live and in-person in Zurich, Amsterdam and Stockholm. Further details on the Summit can be found here.

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