Andy Romero-Birkbeck is the Director and Founder of We Are Wellbeing. After a shift to online services, Andy discusses why he formed the business, how the pandemic changed his business plan, and the main services We Are Wellbeing provides. Having won a contract to deliver specialist Connect 5 training, organisations of all sizes can now train up their managers and improve the welfare and productivity of their staff.
You can watch the full interview here, or see below to read what Andy has to say about We Are Wellbeing’s origins and services:
1. How did you get started in the health and wellbeing industry?
“When I left school, I went to college and did a diploma in Health and Wellbeing. I got my first job as a gym instructor when I was 17. So I’ve now been in the health and fitness and wellbeing industry 21 years! I then graduated with a degree in Health-Related Exercise and Fitness – the day after my graduation I got a job as a physiologist for Bupa, training as an exercise physiologist doing health screening. After a couple of years I started teaching personal training courses.
About ten to twelve years ago, I was exposed to workplace wellbeing, and I’ve done that ever since.”
2. What’s We Are Wellbeing’s history and what are the main services We Are Wellbeing provides?
“Seeing what other organisation had done, having worked in workplace wellbeing for 8 years; in January 2020 I thought let’s have a new start and do wellbeing differently to how I’d done it before, on a bigger scale but really authentically. I decided to set up a new business – I asked my wife what I should call it, and together we called it We Are Wellbeing.
The intention of the business was to support Romero Insurance Brokers’ clients, but the business plan blew up in smoke because the pandemic hit. Three months in, COVID ruined every plan we had, but it also brought opportunity. Over-night we had to convert all our content into online content, even though before March 2020 I’d never delivered a webinar. Instead of just servicing organisations local to us here in Leeds, quickly we were delivering to companies in America, in Africa, and all of Europe, so it escalated quite quickly.
As an organisation we specialise in two main areas. One is wellbeing education: workshops, training courses and seminars. And the other is health screening: This involves going into businesses and delivering 1-2-1 health checks. We screen employees at all levels, all the way up to directors.
All of our training courses are CPD credited. That means we get your team to a certain standard, a certain level of education, therefore there are learning outcomes and objectives we are trying to achieve. Our training courses are built to help and support organisations – that starts with managers. We train line managers on how to look after the wellbeing of their team. Most managers become managers because they are good at what they did, not because they are great leaders or are good at having sensitive conversations – this makes a massive difference for an employee’s personal wellbeing. One of our key training courses is how to support managers in looking after their team, providing them with better tools and resources to become better leaders.
Wellbeing Champions, our other training course, is about having health and wellbeing champions in your organisation to support their colleagues. If somebody is struggling at work, they are much more likely to speak to a colleague, and if that colleague has had some baseline training on how to support somebody, it goes a long way.
We also have wellbeing workshops, which are usually half a day. They are an amalgamation of three subjects that complement each other; such topics as sleep, energy nutrition, stress, awareness, mental health, illness. We bundle three together to give people a really good interactive experience.
Our seminars are one-hour delivered in person, or our webinars are one hour and delivered online. We’ve got over fifty different subjects, and all of these subjects have been created by hand alongside experts who support us.”
3. What is Connect 5 training?
“Connect 5 is a nine-hour workshop; split into three sessions, three hours each; that supports the delegates to understand about how to have conversations. There are a lot of training courses around mental health, stress, anxiety, depression, learning about the conditions, but they don’t really teach you how to have a conversation about it.
We’ve been quite lucky to have won a contract to deliver this, and now we are able to offer Connect 5 to other organisations.”
4. What is a corporate health screening?
“Another side to our business is health screening. A health screening involves us going into another organisation and providing employees with the opportunity to sit down with a health and wellbeing expert. They could have a ten minute healthy-heart check or an essential thirty minute check, and experience their key health metrics – be it blood pressure or heart rate or cholesterol glucose levels.
The main objective is to talk about how they are feeling about their health. The main value is health observations; one of the key identifiers about someone’s health is to learn what they have observed – what has changed recently that wasn’t there before.
Most people don’t get this opportunity. Perhaps they sit down with their GP, if they can even get in with their GP. For us, being able to sit down with employees and have a chat is really valuable, in addition to the screening.”
5. How are wellbeing seminars beneficial for corporate and commercial businesses?
“When it comes to personal wellbeing, one of the biggest challenges is ‘What can my organisation do for me’. There is a certain level of accountability on the individual; they’re expected to turn up fit for work, to get a good night’s sleep; but actually the education around this is not there, it’s not widely available, and there’s a lot of misinformation online.
One of the things we try to do is work with organisations to provide evidence-based recommendations and advice for individual employees. This means the organisations facilitating us can then go on to support their people to thrive.”
6. Where do businesses start when wanting to improve their employee welfare?
“When organisations start working with us one of the first things we recommend is to undergo a wellbeing insights survey. The wellbeing insights survey is a 30-35 question survey that we provide digitally, it can be completed on any device. We’ll provide this as a free service, and provides us with the information that can be quite hard to attain.
We want to hear form employees, as well as your HR directors and managers, on what the needs and wants of your business are. This survey will provide us insight into sleep habits of your people, their mental health, their stresses, and more. We’ll then packages the results and send you a detailed report about what is happening within your business.
We’ll repeat the survey every single year to see what has changed. Businesses want to know what the return on investment is when spending on wellbeing, and the survey is excellent for us to be able to demonstrate the progress.”
7. What are the advantages of working with We Are Wellbeing as a corporation or small business?
“Organisations approach us for different reasons. Some of the main reasons that perhaps aren’t obvious straight away is talent attraction, bringing new people into the business. But also retention, keeping the best people.
Working with We Are Wellbeing reduces the risk of absenteeism, presenteeism, leave-ism; all these statistics that HR leaders typically pay attention to.
One area that we are really pleased about is how we can change the culture of an organisation – it can be a big ship to turn – but we can start to shape the culture of an organisation so it feels a lot kinder, and that people want to turn up and come there. When you look after your people, you get more out of them – it’s not rocket science.
One of the other benefits of working with We Are Wellbeing is our ability to support organisations applying for awards and status. We’ve got a track record of supporting clients win wellbeing awards, and inclusion and diversity awards. The nature of the work that we do, because it’s investing in people but is also measurable, it’s looked favourably on by judges.”
8. What are the size and scale of the businesses you service?
“It varies. Over time we’ve worked with huge organisations such as Nestle, Siemens and Moto service stations, as well as international organisations such as London Zoo. We’ve also worked with some really small organisations like St. Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds; we work with schools and universities.
The one thing they’ve all got in common is they want to support people. It doesn’t matter about the size of the organisation, it just matters about the people.”
9. Can you lay out We Are Wellbeing’s bespoke programme option?
“We’ve put the Wellbeing Menu together for SMEs who have a very specific budget or a limited budget, and we try to look at as much as possible, providing advice on what’s going to work best for your business.”
10. What is the We Are Wellbeing App?
“The We Are Wellbeing App was originally designed to support Romero Insurance Brokers with their on site wellbeing provisions. The app allows businesses to register all their employees, where staff will have the ability to book on-site services with any of our team members.
We now offer on-site counselling, psycho-therapy, hypnosis, massages, health checks, physio therapy, and doctor consultations. Allowing us onsite to deliver these services enable wellbeing to happen at a much bigger scale. It’s also much more effective – staff aren’t having to take time off to go to the doctors, instead everything is on-site.
So if organisations are wanting support with wellbeing services and access, the We Are Wellbeing app is a great resource now available.”
Thank you to Andy Romero-Birkbeck, for his preview of the We Are Wellbeing service and the benefits provided to organisation.
Romero Insurance Brokers clients are able to take advantage of We Are Wellbeing services instantly. Contact your account handler or Andy directly to start your organisation’s journey to a better workplace environment.