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Using data to illuminate mental health battles your team is fighting w/Chris Golby, CEO Lumien

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

Data driven decisions aren't just for sales and marketing campaigns. Tools like Lumien can help your team paint a clear picture of the mental health of your employees. What is impacting their happiness most and the ramification to the company's bottom line. We've always heard that the happiness of employees can influence profitability. We can know understand exactly how much it's affected down to the dollar.

Here's the recap...In today's episode, Tevi and I spoke with Chris Golby, CEO of Lumien. We talked about how data can provide a clear picture of how a team is feeling and how that affects a company's profitability. Whether stress, anxiety, or trouble sleeping has caused dips to production. The data can tell a company how much that's costing the company. Lumien can provide clear action items to help the individual employee, as well as, the company on how to best support their team.

Full transcript below...

Part One of our series on Mental Health can be found here.

Referenced in this episode


Lumien on Twitter

Chris Golby on Linkedin


Separation of employee & state

When using a tool like Lumien to gain insight into their team's mental health wellbeing it's priority #1 that feedback is anonymized. Employees must feel confident they can be honest and transparent. This is the ground floor where simply getting a smiley emoji or happiness score can provide help information.

This ground level provides the company an overview of how their team is feeling that week. That feedback must be used to refine the benefits and engagement offered to help their team.

Conversation starter

This data overview should be used by each team leader to kick off weekly conversations with their team. First team leadership must be open and transparent with their team about their own mental health. From their asking more focused vs open ended questions on how each team member is feeling.

And the #1 most impacted area to one's health for startups is...........Sleep 😴

Almost 80% of people have had their sleep impacted during the pandemic. Those sleep changes have caused a great rate of distraction at work, and thus a greater impact to the employee's productivity. Meaning more of an impact to the company's bottom line. It can also raise alerts to potential future impact. As a week or two of bad sleep due to pressing deadlines, can have effect productivity for weeks after.

Scores are unique

Each employee's score is unique and can't be compared to someone else's. So my score of 80 doesn't equal your score of 80. That score is about what specifically impacted the number, and how it's changed per employee over time. Why conversations with employees and the benefits offered must be flexible.

The vertical also plays an important role. A 10 hour work day for a startup employee working at home can be drastically different from a 10 hour work day from a healthcare worker. For the team at home the main issue may be focus. Trying to get work done while the kids are bouncing off the walls. For the healthcare worker it could be nutrition. The never ending stream of patients prevent access and time for health meals.


Scott: [00:00:50] Hi, everybody. Thanks for tuning in today to another episode of leading from afar today, Tevi and I are excited to host a good friend, Chris, Golby the CEO of Lumien It's a tool. I think that every company should have in place to gauge the health and happiness of their employees, especially these days as we're in the midst of the second wave of COVID.

So today I'm excited to dig into mental health and happiness. Something that every team are facing the last months. Certainly having a huge impact on employee health and productivity. I can speak personally to that.

So today, we can learn more about what leaders can do to help their teams and how Lumien can play a part in that. Chris, you wanna introduce yourself and give a quick elevator pitch?

Chris: [00:01:29] Yeah, sure. Thanks for the fantastic introduction there, Scott. So Lumien itself is a data led tool, basically. So we've looked at other products out there in the market. We're very aware that a lot of them are therapy led, but they don't give users the necessary understanding of the data behind their wellbeing.

So Lumien itself, has an application that is given to employees within companies. You can get free versions yourself. The employee version, basically you're asked a set of five questions each week. It takes a couple of minutes a day just to reflect on your own wellbeing.

Basically it's able to give you a weekly data report around your own health and your own wellbeing. What we're able to do is it gives you a well-being score. Then it's happy to break this down into several different areas of well-being. From sleep to diet, nutrition, to all sorts of areas in different areas of mental health.

Companies can also get aggregated data reports. So we don't report any data on individuals in companies. We give the company an aggregate data report so they can see what the top problems are within the company, and actually do something to address that. Actually the system then goes as far as signposting people to the interventions that are relevant for that individual.

We hope to give everyone that empowerment around their own wellbeing. To understand what's going on with them, and then the company to understand what they can do for the individuals within it.

Tevi: [00:02:49] Wow. That is so interesting. Thank you. What is the origin story of Lumien Chris? How did that start? How did that product come about?

Chris: [00:02:57] So, I was a researcher at Warwick University in the UK. I did a PhD there in digital health. A lot around outcome measurements of healthcare. I did that, went on to do various research projects with the NHS, with universities. Actually at the time, got a bit bored by how the grant cycles go within universities.

You're very much stopping and starting projects all the time. And I really wanted to carry some on, into the commercial space. So around 2012, we set up a company called Evolyst. Evolyst had the intention of doing these research projects, but with the idea of actually being able to help people in the real world. So we had a lot of success with that.

We did various software projects for leading universities and NHS, National Health Service in the UK. It started very much around 2012 with a lot of physical health to physiotherapy occupational health projects. As time went on, we moved more into the kind of mental health space.

I'd say one of the signature projects we did ended up on BBC One. The BBC's main channel in the UK on television here. We've done with patients with psychosis. That was with King's College London in South London. In particular, we have people on it who had left their house for the first time in two years. So we'd actually gone and done what we set out to do in the first place. Which actually taking things into the commercial sphere and actually beginning to help people.

Then around 2017-2018, we decided that we'd gone so far with this. We were often doing projects for other people, and we wanted to do our own projects. Take what we've learned and actually develop something that could help in the workforce. Obviously at the time we'd spotted this growing area of mental health and knowledge of mental health in the NHS.

It's like this over in the UK, and it's starting to gain traction within workforces. People beginning to realize the size of the problem. That was the origin of Lumien. We decided to take what we've learned in a health care background and a research background and apply that over into the commercial space.

Where we saw the real gap was in individuals understanding their own mental health, and in companies understanding what they needed to do to help people with mental health. That's where Lumien came from.

Tevi: [00:05:07] Oh, wow. That's so cool. So it's a natural evolution.

Scott: [00:05:12] A lot of leaders in the office now during Covid are seeing the impact to employees' health and wellbeing. Since you've launched, how's the product resonating with leaders and people teams that you've been working with.

Chris: [00:05:24] It's been really exciting. So particularly through this Covid period, we noticed an increase in interest around it. I think when we started around 2017-2018, there was still this kind of resistance to mental health. Particularly within the UK. That's easing now, as it's grown more in the limelight. It's on TV. You've now got footballers is talking about it.

You've got the Prince of England talking about mental health concerns. I suppose people are starting to wake up to this; particularly within our UK market. We've seen people starting to take note of it. As we've grown out, companies are starting to look at it.

Particularly with the remote workers and having remote workers understand what's going on. We started to see real kind of traction in the market, and we've got some big players starting to now jump at the opportunity. If you look at managers, they've always been told to have the finger on the pulse of the company, but this is quite difficult.

If you're remote working, you can't understand the emotional state of the company and where that is. Using Lumien allows you to get that understanding, as well as, the individuals to get that understanding. So we've seen some real initial traction from that.

Scott: [00:06:28] Interesting. What about your own team? Obviously, team? I assume you would use the product within your own team. The data that you're seeing from the people who work with you, what trends are you seeing?

Chris: [00:06:39] We use it as a small team. I think over the lockdown periods we've been using it with extended friends and family, as well. To get that kind of bigger dataset. It's been really interesting to see over that period. In particular, what we've, noticed is sleep has been the biggest game changer.

We've had 78% of people have changes to their sleep during the lockdown period, during COVID. We really noticed that as being the change. A lot of people sleeping longer as well as shorter as well. We've also seen distraction was a big problem. So that's distraction in terms of when you're stressed or when you're feeling a level of anxiety, you can't carry on with your day to day tasks. You feel the difficulty in carrying those out. Actually people were really struggling with that. Just carrying about their day-to-day activities and staying present during the lockdown period.

Stress levels though have gone up because people have been contained and fed up with the whole situation. I think maybe as lockdowns ease worldwide, we'll start to see their stress levels go down slightly.

So some real kind of interesting data coming out of this period.

Scott: [00:07:43] If I did the test myself, I think my stress level would be 120 or something like that. A little thermometer thing exploding. I definitely can understand that experience that you're seeing.

Chris: [00:07:53] We always talk about stress being in the past and anxiety being in the present and in the future. So it's really difficult to stay as present as possible. I think that's really important. Particularly at the moment, it's really difficult for people to just focus on what's going on in the present.

We've tried to put anything that we can in the tool to help get people to think about that sort of thing. I think it's really important people realize that it's difficult to compare one person's mental health to the next. What we often do when we talk about the numbers, we say that just because one person's score was 80, it's not comparable to another person's 80.

It depends on how you're feeling and what you're feeling about. It's more about how you change over time and spotting the differences in that.

Tevi: [00:08:35] That's so interesting. So I guess it's interesting to have this global event go on, which your data must be affected. You can compare that to the global event, but then it's what the company does with that data. Are you able to affect change and then see those numbers change ?

Even though there's this global event going on?

Chris: [00:08:56] Oh yeah, absolutely. That's one of the key drivers behind it. Is trying to implement that company style change. So often a first bit is around employee benefits. A lot of companies have a list of employee benefits on a page somewhere which will talk about some wellness applications.

They have maybe some workshops and tools. Access to some facilities. Often they're under utilized. What the app does is links people to these employee benefits. Allows them to see what's there and points out to them what they need at the right time. As well as doing that, it can point out to the company what it feels it's missing.

So it allows them to say something really obvious such as, promoting cycling to work is quite a good one. If there's stress around physical exercise or allowing people more time for breaks. Those are the kind of generic ones that people will spot.

Often early stage ones that people were doing companies, but then they divert down to less commonly known ones. So a good example, I always give, is new parents coming back off parental leave. After having a new baby and the stresses that involves coming into the workplace. The system, for instance, may prompt about setting up a talk club for new parents to go to once a month.

Then the system can point people in that direction. So people can go in chat with other parents about what it's like to go through that. So it's a case of just identifying the collective figures together around what's needed within the workplace as a whole. Then the system can sign posts the right people towards that.

Tevi: [00:10:24] That's so cool.

Scott: [00:10:25] Yeah, that's awesome. I had a baby at very early stages of Covid. I put myself in the perfect storm of those categories. From the individual side, you're looking at things like sleep, stress, engagement, and other factors. For a company or a team leader why would this information on these specific areas be valuable to them? And you hinted on it, but the know can you give some specific correlation examples that you've seen? People who have no have said that they're have a higher level of stress anxiety, or you're seeing no lower sleep quality.

And that has also transitioned into other data points as well.

Chris: [00:11:00] One of the big things we track is around productivity. So the key area of the product for the company is knowing how it affects the workforce. As well as, telling the company what they need to implement. it actually calculates the overall productivity loss across the company because poor wellbeing.

It can signpost what the productivity loss is per area. Whether it's sleep, diet, mental health, anxiety, or stress. Signpost to the company where the biggest productivity loss is. Then actually calculate how much money they're losing as a result.

It begins to reveal to the company what the bottom line losses as a result of not looking after their staff effectively. If they can do more to promote a happy workplace, being healthy within the workplace, then the productivity will improve. I always find it fascinating that companies talk about improving productivity.

So they tried to put more and more processes in place. The fact of the matter is that if somebody turns into work and they're very stressed, anxious, or another area of wellbeing that's been affected, then it doesn't matter how many processes you've put into place.

They're going to underperform. Whatever systems you put into place to improve that, their productivity will improve. If you look after the individual, as well as the system, they operate with them.

Scott: [00:12:14] There has been for years, great survey tools that will ask questions at the end of the week or quarterly to give an overview of people's engagement and happiness.

Scott (2): [00:12:23] I think that's super important, but that correlation to the bottom line dollars is priceless.

Scott: [00:12:29] This 15% decrease in sleep has translated into a 10% loss of productivity. That 10% equals this dollar amount. That's a core essence of how valuable it is.

Tevi: [00:12:40] That could be a really interesting way to gauge if there's a release coming and everyone's working really hard and losing sleep, I imagine there'd be that rolling effect a week or two later. Where productivity drops because of that loss of sleep. To see that on a dashboard would be fascinating.

Chris: [00:12:55] You wouldn't start a sales or marketing campaign, or run your operations without making sure you're going to track some data around it. A company always talks about people being its greatest asset. Yet very few, particular small companies, track a lot of data around the people, and about how the people are feeling within the organization.

I always find that fascinating. That's never really been done as the understanding that the emotions behind what's going on in the workplace or how that happens.

Scott: [00:13:23] Definitely. When you go into sales, when you go into marketing everything's data-driven.

Having that same insight into operations and people getting that same insight. What's the data behind people's engagement. With the big push towards the remote, this is going to be key.

The success that the remote will find will be from the data. To see your team's engaged by tracking how many conversations we're having in Slack or Zoom, or the amount of sleep or happiness. The product not only provides insights on an individual or a team health but the action plan how you can improve.

So of the data that you're tracking, what are the hardest hit top three categories from the individual and team side?

What can a leader do with those top three things to improve and fix those?

Chris: [00:14:08] I can tell you that the top one we always seem to notice for individuals is sleep. The company one marries up with the individual one to an extent. But companies, we always notice there being an issue with financial worry.

It's always an interesting one because when financial worry comes about. People and companies often think that means paying people more. So sometimes we see people panic a little bit about it. Actually, it's more of a case of providing people with financial wellbeing packages.

Providing people with support to understand their finances and how they can map out. That could be down to talking through a young person in the company about how credit works. How credit cards work, how mortgages work, and how they can buy things. Explaining those sorts of things.

We definitely see sleep and finance being top ones. anxiety has been the biggest one. So this rise in anxiety about fear of what's going to happen. Particularly in the lockdown. Having said that, it seems to have shifted over to stress.

People were worried about what's coming up, but I think now we're seeing people understanding what's going on. We're seeing more stress and frustration going on. So we're seeing those sort of data come in so often it's.

It depends on the sector. For instance, when we've gone into the care sector we've noticed nutrition suddenly pops up in quite highly ranking. Because often people can be pushed with timelines and those sorts of areas. Though the care sector, they're not eating as healthily.

Because they're rushed. So it changes between different vertical markets and what happens within them.

Scott: [00:15:40] Interesting. What kind of correlations are you seeing so far? Is the banking industry higher on this or startups are lower on that.

Chris: [00:15:48] Interesting ones. Yeah. The care sector, in general, we showed the nutrition side of things. I'm trying to think of some specific trends we've noticed off the top of my head. I think particularly within manufacturing, we've seen a lot of trends in terms of that finance side of things.

In terms of other sectors off the top of my head, I'd have to go and look through the data.

Tevi: [00:16:08] Okay. I'm curious if you have an issue of having employees be fully honest and transparent in their answers. Might there be concern that they're showing vulnerability, and they might be open to backlash or that they're not doing their best?

Chris: [00:16:26] We always get asked this question. It's quite interesting. The one thing the system doesn't do is report on individuals. We made that very clear to the employees from the start. whatever you report here, no one's going to see an individual report for you.

They're not gonna use this to analyze what's going on. The company is only going to see aggregated data coming back about what's happening. So we stress that to the employees, but it's quite important to tell a story behind what's going on. Whereas, if you take a classic employee engagement survey, employees can often see that as a tool for tracking data off themselves in order to make the company more money.

As much as that's not necessarily the case, employees can have that view of it from time to time. Whereas we tried to tell the story behind this stuff. This is about people's wellbeing. About people's mental health. By filling this in, you're helping yourself. You're helping your own wellbeing.

You're also stopping something bad happening to the person next to you who you don't realize is going through these problems. So it's about helping people in the organization as much as just helping yourself. You start to tell the story behind what's happening. I think people have more buy-in to this sort of scenario when done correctly. Then other scenarios where you'd think people are being tracked for productivity purposes.

Tevi: [00:17:38] So I guess that data is helpful to a manager to try to implement systematic changes to try to help the whole team or company. They still could be missing an individual who might be really struggling because that's hidden in the data. Even if it's bringing down the overall score.

Is there a way that a leader can create a more open environment and get employees to trust them that they will have their best interests at heart? Really try to help them if they need it. Because it also does help the company, or is that maybe too far that people might just feel that it's making themselves too vulnerable.

Chris: [00:18:16] Yeah so we've actually been working a potential red flag system where an individual is not identified, but the company is alerted to an area where they're on possibly more red flags than other areas. We're actually testing it in a networking group where it's not as intrusive. Where people are more prepared to pass over data. So we can test it. In general, I would say that creating an open culture around mental health is really important. The way to start that is with the managers and with the leaders of the organization. The leaders and the managers with organizations need to be able to talk about their own emotions. Be able to talk about their own feelings.

That's not necessarily as difficult as people might first think. That's a case of just saying, I feel quite tired this week, or I felt a bit overwhelmed this week. It doesn't have to be talking too deeply about it. In portraying that sense of vulnerability, it allows other people to follow suit and begin to talk.

Then it's a case of seeing where that conversation goes and making sure that conversation is simply happening. So then just the case of just simply asking people how they are sometimes time.

Scott: [00:19:25] I love it. I've always been a believer of leading from the front. If you're in a leadership position, you're the captain of the ship. The people on the ship do what the captain does. If they see their executive team being very open and sharing their own personal experiences, it adds to the comfort level for the rest. To be on the same level of openness. Building that openness with the team so people will come individually to them and say, "Hey, I'm going through this or that."

I'll ask both of you guys who are running teams or companies. Let's say I'm one of your employees and I come up to you in confidence and say, "The last couple of months I've been dealing with anxiety or dealing with kids jumping all over the walls because they haven't been in school."

What are three action items that the two of you would implement today to help?

Chris: [00:20:03] I would say the biggest thing is trying to talk about it. So that's the first one. Making sure that there is a weekly time for a chat around this. It's something that I was going to allude to before. That it's important to be engaging with your employees on a personal level, as much as on a practical level.

Often we see sometimes people try to stuff this end at the start of work. Where they spend 10 minutes at the start going over something personal in order to get the practical tasks they need to do. Often I'd say, making sure there's time per week to be able to go through how an individual is feeling. What it is they're looking to do, and what they're struggling with at the moment.

Just having a general chat. It's not just waiting to see whether they answer it, but specifically asking them if they are okay. Not at a superficial level. Just how are you. Actually digging into that a little bit and saying, "Are you okay? Is there any support you need around this? Is there anything we can help you with here company?"

So that's the first thing I think would be engaging as much as possible. The second thing I'd do. We see a lot of people struggling with rules and boundaries. Particularly as we're moving to more of a remote environment. So it's really working with employees on what's expected of them. Also allowing them to have specific rules. So to let them know that if you email them, for instance, later on in the evening, they don't necessarily have to apply at that time. They don't have to jump at everything. It's making sure that they can structure their own days and have an understanding of this.

So I'd say communication. I'd say structure and understanding. Then I'd say making sure that they are looking after themselves. Being generally well outside of the work environment. So are they taking time specific time to exercise? Are they eating correctly?

Are they sleeping correctly? Do they understand what's going on or do they feel a beckoning call. Which I think some people do. I always liked the statement I heard, which is. "We've learned how to answer emails on a Sunday afternoon, but no one's learned how to go to the cinema on a Monday afternoon." Which I always think is really pivotal in that.

So I suppose, that's the three things.

Tevi: [00:22:10] That's great. Some of what you said, I totally agree with. I think it's important that if you have to connect one-to-one. I think that when you're in a team meeting, it's nice to have a go around the room and spend a couple of minutes seeing how everyone's doing. But I don't expect that to be an authentic, real deep conversation.

That's more like team building conversation. If you want to really help and understand your team, then you have to connect one to one. Really ask and listen and be aware of what they're going through. I think it's important when some people say, "Oh, you could always take off whenever you need, or let me know when you need to take off" that's not really going to fly. No, it's going to take advantage of that. They're going to feel like they're letting down the team. So it's important as a manager or a leader to say, "Hey, I know you've just had a baby recently. Take the afternoon off today or tomorrow." Really be specific and give that permission without leaving it open to them, to decide. I think that will be a lot healthier for the team.

Scott: [00:23:06] I absolutely love that. It has always been "if you want some time off, you're welcome to take any time off." Or those questions, "Is there anything you want to talk about?" Instead of more personal directed questions. Because if that relationship and openness isn't there, then it's dead air.

So having that opportunity to be direct. Instead of offering it, being the one who demands it or puts it out there. I think it's a fantastic idea.

Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us today. Chris appreciate all the wisdom that you shared. This has been fantastic learning more about Lumien. For that call to action. If you want to learn more about the product, it's Lumien,

I personally think every company, whether remote or not remote should be using the tool like this. To be able to gauge the employee happiness and wellbeing of their team. I think it's super critical now during COVID, and certainly will be as remote takes over the world.

Tevi: [00:23:57] Thank you Chris. Thank you, Scott.

Scott: [00:24:00] Awesome. Stay safe, everybody. We'll speak again soon.

Chris: [00:24:03] Thanks.

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