Journey into Tech
Hi, Cate. Welcome to our HRTech Interview Series. Please tell us a little bit about your journey and what inspired you to start with PUSH Mind and Body.
PUSH was actually created from my childhood bedroom! But let me expand on that – 8 years ago I’d moved back in with my parents in Bournemouth after being signed off work for three months due to stress. It was during this time that I realised I couldn’t face the stressful routine my media role of 16 years entailed, not only was I not looking after myself properly, my values were no longer aligned with those of the media world – I felt like I was just going through the motions, I’d lost the drive and joy I used to genuinely feel. That was a very hard place to be as I didn’t understand why, or indeed what I could do about it. So I made the decision to set up a business that could help people who find themselves in a similar situation.
I could also see around me that more and more people were feeling the same. Everywhere you looked, the words ‘stress’, ‘burnout’ or ‘breakdown’ were being bandied around. I just felt that I wanted to do something about it – I knew there had to be a better way of living and working and, quite frankly, I didn’t want anyone else to go through what I did. PUSH was born from a genuine desire to give people the tools they need to excel, not only in the workplace but also in their personal environment, which is what I was missing. Very often organisations will need someone to steer them in the right direction, and that’s what we try to do.
What is your company all about and what are your core offerings?
PUSH is a training and coaching company with one fundamental focus – to help companies Make Work Better. We do this through our four core areas: wellbeing, mental health, leadership, and personal and professional development. From these pillars we create tailored programmes of live sessions, digital content and multi-platform marketing, meaning our programmes are inclusive, interactive and deliver real impact. We are, and always will be, a human-first, technologically enabled company, and have worked with leading global brands including TikTok, Facebook, Google, ITV, Twitter, Spotify and Universal so they can support their people and consequently their business goals. What sets us apart is our co-creation – we use data-driven insights from employees to co-create the programme with our clients. This means the programme is not only built for, but by their people, and constantly evolves with their needs. That said, we do all the heavy lifting: we analyse the insights from the audit and present results and our programme to clients.) This results in a solution-focused programme that targets and solves specific business challenges.
How do you fit into the modern HR Technology stack? What are your key features that CHROs should look out for?
Our live sessions have always been the jewel in our programmes, but in a hybrid world, we wanted to make sure remote workers had access to PUSH whenever they needed it the most.
So that’s why we launchedPUSH in your Pocket.
It’s a digital wellbeing trainer designed to keep people on track with their goals and to provide them with continual wellbeing guidance. With access to in-the-moment exercises, courses and personalised recommendations in mental health, wellbeing, development and leadership, the aim was to give our clients wrap-around expertise and support. It allows users to:
- Catch up on live sessions on demand
- Experience the power of PUSH’s mental health, wellbeing, performance and leadership training at a pace that works for them
- Get personalised mental health and wellbeing support for when people need it the most
- Drive connectivity through team challenges to build that all important sense of togetherness
- Provides an accurate and constant means of gauging the organisational sentiment on a daily basis.
Employee wellness has become a part of overall employee management within an organisation. What changed for employees in the last 5 years?
The shift in attitudes towards prioritising mental health and wellbeing can largely be attributed to the pandemic. Someone I know said that the pandemic democratised mental health and I think that’s putting it perfectly. Few people over that time were unscathed by mental health struggles, whether someone they knew or themselves personally. As a consequence employers were seeing the direct impact of widespread deteriorating mental health on their workforce and realised employee wellness needed to become an integral aspect of overall employee management if they were to keep hitting their business goals. Another factor has been an emerging Gen Z, many of which prioritise self-care over work and have been particularly vocal about the role of their employer in supporting their mental health. Gen Z are bold, they talk with their feet! It’s meant employers have had to include employee wellbeing offerings to keep and grow the best talent.
Tell us more about your latest report on World Health Day and how workers have to cope with various kinds of workplace stress?
Over the last two years, the decades-old business model of rigid office-based working has been disrupted. The vast majority of organisations have pivoted to a hybrid or remote working model, which has spurred a series of challenges, including rising mental health issues, organisational struggles and a decline in the importance and effectiveness of work. At PUSH, we wanted to understand why these changes are manifesting in the world at large.To do this, we surveyed a nationally representative audience of C-Suite leaders, middle managers and junior employees and created three groundbreaking reports giving insight into how we can understand and tackle these challenges.
It showed us that workplace stress has its roots not just in demands and deadlines. Workplace wellbeing is out of whack because we haven’t evolved our wellbeing routines to fit this new world of work. Wellbeing is made up of a complex combination of mental, physical, social and emotional factors, and a lot of the things we used to do to keep those factors in check no longer work on this new terrain. How we communicate, how we re-energise, how we connect – these are skills that all need updating if we want to beat burnout and overcome work-related stress.
What kind of training would you advise managers to overcome stressful conditions at workplace? Would it be similar to what you recommend to employees in similar conditions?
Our latest report revealed that 47% of managers have said their team was facing either a “communication breakdown” or “worsening relationships” since 2020. Beyond our research it is also being widely reported that confidence in management is down and that managers themselves are struggling. This is, in no uncertain terms, an emergency for businesses and hugely stressful for managers who are left feeling that things are out of control. They now have to contend with a host of competing issues – from employees’ mental health struggles to ensuring people develop and grow in their environment. But with a lack of training they feel ill-equipped to do all this – we can’t underestimate the level of stress this puts on them. So, yes, dealing with manager stress does need a different approach to employee stress:
Our management training programme provides new and existing managers with the training and support they need to empower and connect with their team in this new world of work – through workshops, talks and sessions they learn how to maximise passion, foster commitment and support mental health. Alongside this we also offer 1:1 coaching for managers which gives them the guidance to explore and grow in their role as manager with curiosity and without fear. At the same time managers are playing an ever more important role in the support of workplace mental health. Managers are not therapists, and nor should they try to be, but they are often the first-line of defence when it comes to employees reaching out about mental health issues. Supporting managers so they know how to react and respond to employee mental health creates cultures of positive mental health and psychological safe environments, which are vital.
How do you foresee the trend of HR automation in employee wellness management?
From a process perspective, I’m sure the trend of automation will only continue to improve and advance – automation reduces time spent on menial, repetitive tasks and enhances HR’s productivity by allowing them to focus on higher-value tasks like creating better frameworks, solving internal issues, and crafting guidelines for a better workplace. Similarly if automation is used for measurement, in managing engagement, wellbeing, productivity etc that ensures these metrics are being assessed and solutions can evolve to suit people. However, HR processes are inherently people-centric, I do worry about stripping out the personal and more human elements of HR departments and the disconnect that would ultimately leave.
The last two years have accelerated digital transformation for HRtech businesses of all sizes and stature. What has been the biggest lesson for you that helped you stay on top of your game? Would you like to share your pandemic experience on how you managed to continue your development works and research during the uncertain times?
There were so many lessons over the last few years. Probably the key one for me was seeing how swiftly tech enabled us all to dramatically pivot in response to an unimaginable set of circumstances, rapidly evolving our offering in a way that allowed us to remain commercially viable and serve clients in the way they needed us to at that time. As a business we suffered all the same challenges our research reports explore, but luckily for us the tech we needed to overcome those challenges was all in existence already. We just had to focus on implementing it in the right way, without losing the all important human element to the work that we do.
Your take on the future of data science and AI in the HR automation products:
Everyone knows data science and AI is set to transform everything, it’s already underway. HR automation products that empower HR departments to focus on the things that really matter can only be a good thing, but there will always need to be a human element involved. When it comes to mental health and wellbeing tech can only take us so far, we’ll always need that human connection. But the insights that data can tell us are undeniably powerful, and will benefit the whole sector if utilised in the right way.10. An advice to every data science / AI professional looking to start in this space:
That’s a tricky question. I guess to remember that in HR there is a real life person behind every number. And to be mindful of the amazing importance of the work that you’re doing, and the impact of the conclusions that you draw. There is a real opportunity to transform lives by working in this space, so I’d like to think it’ll be attracting plenty of talent for years to come!
Thank you, Cate! That was fun and hope to see you back on HR Tech Series soon.
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Cate Murden is a woman on a mission to change lives; helping everyone that she works with think, feel and do better. Cate founded her corporate wellness and mental health company, PUSH, in 2014. Since then, they have worked with 100 different organisations and, in the last year alone, they have delivered over 1,000 sessions – empowering individuals to live and work well. 92% of these sessions received 5* feedback. During Covid, Cate was determined to support absolutely anyone that needed it. Offering an extensive programme of free webinars, workshops, psychotherapy 1-2-1s and, now, the PUSH eBook ‘High Potential Hacks’; Cate has taken PUSH’s work directly into the community. Cate has been described as a power house of wellness. She has helped over 100,000 to change their lives – and, since the pandemic, almost 10,000 of those completely free of charge.
Formed in 2014, PUSH are industry-leading training and coaching experts with a clear ambition: to Make Work Better. We specialise in delivering better mental health, wellbeing, development and management for a range of clients, from global organisations to boutique brands. Operating under the four fundamental pillars of THINK, FEEL, DO and MANAGE, PUSH offers its clients the industry’s very best coaches, training specialists and counsellors. We deliver tailor-made programmes of virtual and live group workshops, 1-2-1 coaching, and app-based content that are making organisations and their people healthier, happier and more productive. PUSH supports leading global brands including TikTok, Dominos, Google, Rightmove, Twitter, and Facebook towards achieving ‘work-life brilliance.’