Let’s prioritise the well-being of business owners and their staff.

In July, I was delighted to be able to attend Xerocon London 2022. Whilst in-person events have been back for a while, I still get very excited to meet new people and catch up with industry friends. Nothing quite beats the people watching and the opportunities for overheard conversations too! 


There were many important themes discussed throughout the conference and I gathered some great insights that I know both my team and my clients will benefit from. While the practical insights were greatly appreciated, what was maybe more profound and essential was the focus on well-being in the workplace. 


There was, and rightly so, a lot of talk about employee well-being, including what employers can do to support employee wellbeing. This could be by enabling flexible working or being empathetic to their situation. Or, by giving employees space to talk and supporting their career progression.


But, business owners themselves are often highly stressed too. Juggling many issues, and jumping from one crisis to the next to manage their business with very little downtime. How can they find the mental (and temporal) space to also look after their employee’s mental health?

Samantha Clarke – a Ted X speaker and author of “Love it or Leave it – How to be happy at work”, is on a mission to bring more well-being and happiness to the workplace and our lives. Samantha spoke openly and candidly and was genuinely inspiring. She really made me think and reflect. Samantha’s talk gave me insight into how this is all possible.


She started by saying you can’t fill from an empty jug.


You need to look after yourself first and then you’ll be better able to look after others.


Many of the strategies she talked about came back to things we’ll have heard before – for example, good sleep, good diet and practising mindfulness. But something that stuck with me is that she talked about personalising strategies. First by asking ‘How does stress show up for you?’


It could be:


  • Brain fog
  • Becoming emotional (tearful or angry)
  • Behavioural (drinking, eating, working out)
  • Physical (aches and pains)
  • Procrastination (or overwhelm)


Not everyone will respond in the same way to stress. Some may become agitated and feel the need to micro-manage, others may become laid back and not know where / how to start.


If you fall in the latter camp, yoga may not help!


Also, different situations may affect you differently. It’s essential to become aware of how you are feeling in different situations and try to identify what is causing the stress.


Strategies that could help:


  • Try a body scan. This takes just 5 minutes. Take time to notice where the stress is in your body.
  • Adopt daily wind-down rituals. For example, why not journal for 5 minutes – ask these questions – what did I discover about myself today – what am I experiencing today? Or, simply try a hot bath with some essential oils. 
  • Be mindful of what you’re eating. Notice how food affects you. How do you feel when you eat certain foods?
  • Move more! This is sometimes hard to implement when we’re busy. But, little and often is a good approach! Samantha talked about splitting movement into micro, mini and macro categories – we need these 3 types of movement each day.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Focus on truly relaxing when you rest your head. What do you need to let go of? Can you write all your worries down and then leave them in another room?
  • Develop your resilience. How often do you notice what your strengths are? Do you take time to be patient with yourself? Focus on incremental optimising – try to simply start something new but don’t push for a massive goal.
  • Remember you have resources. It’s important to have a varied support network of friends, family and even industry support groups – who do I call on if I have stress?
  • Create some accountability. What accountability do you need? Who in your network can give this to you? Can your colleagues support you? 


I also attended a great session hosted by Tracy Smithers (from Xero). She shared some helpful insights into how to support your team’s well-being..as well as lots of useful insights, including the difference between empathy and sympathy. 


Some insights from Tracy’s session included:

  • 2 in 4 business owners said it would take them longer to recover from the pandemic emotionally than financially. This is something we need to acknowledge and work on. 
  • There is a 50% growth in revenue when businesses invest in employee well-being. This is not just the right thing to do, but it’s great for business too. 
  • Remember there is a difference between empathy and sympathy. Check out this great video ‘Brené Brown on Empathy’ where she teaches us how empathy fuels connection and sympathy drives disconnection.


So, how can we take all these learnings and improve everyone’s well-being? 

  • Care for yourself first. Give yourself a break and encourage others to do the same. 
  • Pay attention. Develop a curiosity for others. Understand what makes your staff feel valued. 
  • Engage in active listening in every scenario. Are you really listening to what your colleague is saying? Are you using silence as a tool? 
  • Remember to be a team player. Don’t just tell your own story. Use diverse examples rather than just your own. 
  • Be self-aware. Recognise that how you show up all the time will affect people around you. 


This blog is just a very short round-up of the many things I learned at Xerocon London 2022 about staff wellbeing. It really opened my eyes to understanding the complexity of well-being in the workplace and realising that daily habits can really make a huge difference. I’m now better informed about how to support my team and my clients and I’m determined to keep building my knowledge in this area.