Sure, education and knowledge go a long way, but when was the last time you thought about the imagination, intuition and empathy of your staff?
Ultraceuticals has just been awarded 'The Brain Friendly Organisation Award', from the About my Brain Institute for putting processes in place that look after the minds of its employees. Over the past year, the company has enlisted the , a program that aims to transform the way its staff communicate, work, think and even sleep. We talk to Ultraceuticals CEO, Olivier DuVillard about why he thinks having a healthy mind is so important for business.
Founder Geoff Heber receiving the Brain Friendly Organisation Award
Cultivating an environment of calm minds means better productivity for your business.
Where did you hear about the i4 Neuroleader Model?
“I had heard about the model in 2014,” says Olivier DuVillard, Ultraceuticals CEO. “I had previously worked with Silvia Damiano, the creator of the model, in a former role and I was excited about the innovative work she was doing in the leadership space.
I had been involved with other models and programs in the past with varying levels of success in terms of change of behaviour and this one excited me due to the science behind it. I felt it would resonate with or business because it explains the ‘why’ of our behaviours and gives simple strategies for change. We commenced our program in April 2015.”
What did you hope to change or improve in your organisation with this new initiative?
“We wanted to become more ‘brain friendly’ and become more effective in our leadership behaviours right across the organisation, not just in the executive team. We liked that the model was inclusive of the entire organisation and can benefit everyone.”
What does being brain-friendly mean?
“Being more ‘brain friendly’ means understanding why we behave the way we do and taking accountability for this, making changes personally and at an organisational level to improve the overall culture and the way we work together. The model focuses on four competencies of Performance, Collaboration, Innovation and Agility.”
How does it work?
“At the beginning of the program, it was about learning the science behind the model and how we ‘show up’ when it comes to the behaviours, traits and abilities associated with the competencies. We benchmarked the organisation and ourselves and asked other people to give us feedback through a 360 review (including our family and friends!) on how effective we were in the four competencies.
We participated in a variety of information sessions and workshops where we discovered the brain science behind our behaviour and learnt how we can make simple changes to have a huge impact on our influence with those around us, both at work and in other areas of our lives.
Next, as part of the program, we implemented brain friendly commitments back into the organisation so we have an impact on the culture. We regularly measure how the organisation feels about these commitments so that we can assess how we are going and again, be accountable.”
Olivier DuVillard sees the importance of having staff with happy minds.
What does it mean for your staff on a day-to-day basis?
“People are more aware of their behaviours and practices they can implement personally and in their team environments to be more effective. One of the innovative solutions the team came up with to improve our focus was ‘stop/go’ lights that sit on top of everyone’s workstations to let people know whether they are engrossed in a task – what we call being ‘in flow’ – or whether they are OK to collaborate.”
How does mindfulness play a part?
“We implemented a company-wide mindfulness program including out to the sales field, because we understand how just even taking one moment to breathe more consciously can improves our focus, our decision making and can help us to be less reactive and more calm under pressure.”
How does good sleep help productivity?
“As part of the program, a sleep scientist from the About my Brain team worked with the executive team and then we had information sessions throughout the company to help people understand the cost of insufficient sleep both professionally and personally.
The studies show that most people need between 7-9 hours consistently in order to be more creative, more innovative, more collaborative, less reactive and to be able to learn more effectively. This was an area that most of us in the organisation could make easy changes with and see fast results. It was a big wake up call to most people.”
What has your employees’ feedback been since the implementation of this new model?
“Overall it has been very positive. They like that it is something they can apply to every area of their life – not just work. They were really surprised by just how simple some of the solutions are that can have a huge impact on their personal and professional effectiveness.”
What changes have you experienced in your company?
“We have changed the way we look at our daily interactions. We have changed our communication habits, meeting structures, our ‘device use’ habits, our workflow and our office space. People are more conscious of what they are doing and why. In particular we have made a conscious effort to improve the way we communicate and work together.”