A long-term strategy for workforce wellness

Sustainable wellbeing among the workforce cannot be addressed in isolation – it requires culture change and consistent focus.

That was the message delivered by Edwin Van Rooyen, CEO of T-Cup, at ILC’s inaugural New Generation event, which was held at etc.venues, Manchester in April.

Headline sponsored by Wiser Academy and sponsored by Carpenters Group, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and Zurich, the event aimed to identify the challenges facing the industry in terms of attracting and retaining new talent, and discover strategies to overcome them.

T-Cup, which stands for Thinking Clearly Under Pressure, was founded by Edwin when he himself was at a low ebb. After his rugby career was cut short by injury he built and then sold his first business, but then found himself at a loose end and lacking purpose.

“I just wanted to be happy, successful and healthy,” he said, “but what does that mean?”

With the support of co-founder Lea Mears, a former teammate, he began trying to answer that question and T-Cup, a science-backed wellbeing platform founded on the World Health Organisation’s definition of wellbeing, was born.

Edwin said, “T-Cup isn’t an app. The world doesn’t need any more wellness apps and they don’t work anyway – at least not in isolation. What the world needs is more awareness around wellness and a better culture within the workforce, because one thing we’ve learned is that wellbeing and culture are close together. But often organisations get fixated on the next new app and that doesn’t drive sustainable wellness.”


Instead, he said that businesses should focus on achieving lasting wellness among colleagues by creating a culture of sharing and empathy. He explained that the new generation of talent entering the job market values empathy far more than previous generations, and often creating an empathetic, supportive environment from the top down will be enough to improve engagement and help companies overcome the retention challenge.

“People don’t leave jobs,” Edwin continued, “they leave managers. That requires real change because wellbeing must become part of our conversation, we must become comfortable talking about our mood, our relationships, our stress levels. Those conversations create empathy and that’s really important.”


He explained that rather than just relying on surveys, which don’t work for the individual and often take too long to bring about change, employers should focus on four objectives:

  • Immediacy – a wellbeing model needs to provide results for the individual instantly.
  • Sharing – tackling problems collectively if far more effective than facing them alone; you have a five per cent chance of achieving your goals in isolation, but a 70% chance working in a shared environment.
  • Data – companies need validation that their wellness models are working, and that requires tracking and data.
  • Culture – caring about wellbeing should not be something we do, but something we are.

Edwin said, “T-Cup is a tool that helps people reflect on their wellness. It builds a profile model and then supports you with content. The content is often our client’s own client, but the main difference is we don’t ask employees to go and log into an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), we log the EAP system into the technology so the moment people reflect we can get instant data on their wellness and provide instant support that is relevant to them.

“The key driver though is the cultural impact. This is not something you can do for a week, it needs to be introduced to the core of your company. It’s as much a cultural change as a wellbeing change.”


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