Workplace wellbeing with Hugo Metcalfe: where do we start?

by BIM Academy | February 23, 2024 | 4 min read

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When it comes to wellbeing and mental health in the workplace, where do we start? Well, a good place to start is with Hugo Metcalfe!

Hugo is Chief Psychologist at The Happy Mind Tribe, and has designed and delivered evidence based training programs across the globe and supports organisations in cultivating sustainable workplace wellbeing cultures.

This week, Hugo was BIM Academy’s Digital Climate podcast guest, when podcast host and Dr Graham Kelly, BIM Academy Managing Director, asked him why it is important for organisations to talk more openly about mental health and how can organisations – or employers – be more supportive and promote positive mental health. They also discussed what world records Hugo holds and how he puts his own resilience to the test, leading solo and group expeditions overseas.

Graham begins with asking Hugo to introduce himself and some of his achievements. Hugo responds, “I studied forensic psychology originally, then clinical psychology and later psychotherapy, so every sort of psychology going, and now I work with organisations to deliver training, workshops and culture shift wellbeing initiatives. The idea of going into organisations and thinking about, how do we shift cultures, how do we go from a place of culture being the way we do things around here to being an active thing that we engage in. My main interest is building sustainable wellbeing cultures.”

Graham also asks Hugo what the term “wellbeing” means to him: “My definition of wellbeing has changed over time and often changes depending on the organisation I’m working with, from with the NHS to private companies, but in general I would say, your mental health is the thing that allows you to engage in the things you like doing. When your mental health is good, you’re more able to do the things you like doing, when your mental health is poor, you are less able to do those things, and that applies on an individual level as well as on an organization or systemic level. Organisations and employers who understand this and promote positive mental health with see a healthier happier workforce.”

Hugo continues to say “Meaning and purpose sit at the core of everything you do, everything you do that you like doing, and if you think about it, it probably attaches to your values, or a sense of meaning, or a sense of purpose. And a successful organisation is one that has a sustainable culture which connects meaning and purpose both at an organisational level and a people level.”

Hugo added that with meaning and purpose makes us feel good, makes us feel happy, that we belong.

And when we feel happy and have a sense of belonging, we typically work harder. If we take construction for example and building houses. Why do you build houses? Because it gives people somewhere to live. Why do people need somewhere to live? So, they can have families and be connected and live their lives. So, we’re not just building houses, we’re contributing to lifestyles, therefore underneath there is a much deeper thing to connect us all, and construction plays a significant role in connectivity.

“This is a source of motivation for our teams and our people, how they have a role in the wider ecosystem, it’s not just a job building houses!”.

Graham asks Hugo his thoughts on the pressures digital ways of working might be placing on people, as the construction industry becomes more digitised, there are more people who are required to learn more things and being more connected on this digital level. Hugo responds by asking Graham if he has heard of the digital Goldilocks hypothesis which is based on longitudinal data. So, lots of data collected over a very long time and it talks about it manages to map the introduction of lots of new technology and how people process technology in different ways.

To find out more about this theory, more ways to implement workplace wellbeing strategies and to hear how Hugo was part of the world record holding team to be the first to take a tandem bicycle across the Himalayas, plus his experiences when walking the length of the Great Wall of China, listen to the full podcast.

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