On Episode 70 of The Talent & Growth Podcast we invited Charlie Winton, the founder of OK Positive, to talk about how we can help take our people on the journey of our business. Not only is developing a purposeful culture important for engagement investment, but the nature of Charlie’s business is centred around mental wellbeing and what we can do to look after our people as well. 

Read on for some of the highlights of the episode!

On Episode 70 of the Talent & Growth podcast we invited Charlie Winton, the founder of Ok Positive, to talk about how we can help take our people on the journey of our business. Not only is developing a purposeful culture important for engagement investment, but the nature of Charlie’s business is centred around mental wellbeing and what we can do to look after our people as well. 

Read on for some of the highlights of the episode. 

When did you decide the type of culture you wanted to build internally at Ok Positive, and how did that play out?

We sat down as a founding team very early on to talk about our values and what they meant to us. We asked, what are our morals? What do we care about? That focus came down to helping individuals become more self aware and have access to these tools that they may not have had. What was the longer term goal of that? Well, it’s to stop people from taking their lives, to stop them from going into a downward spiral into more severe mental health issues. Technology was just the vehicle for us. But we wanted to, as a team, believe in our values, and our values were based around how we looked after each other, how we looked after ourselves, and our lived experience. 

So everyone in the business had lived experience of mental health in some form, so they understood the significance of what we were doing, and we would never falter from that path of helping people. That was a big reason why we started off very lean and did it all self funded and bootstrapped, because we didn’t want someone coming in and telling us we had to do things differently. We had our focus, and we still do. That was what we built our values around, and we built those the Four C’s values around what we believed in, and how we’d want to look after and treat each other. We prioritise commitment, connection, courage and communication. We focus on those four areas. If we do that, and treat each other that way, then we’ll succeed. It’s kind of performance versus outcomes; the outcomes you can’t control, but the performance you can. If we deal with that, hopefully the outcomes then come as well, because wellbeing is a very busy market with a lot of people doing great stuff. You need to have that substance and you need to have those ethics, otherwise, you’re going to falter. That’s a big reason why we started off and set that up from the get go.

Why is it important to you to take your people on the journey of Ok Positive?

Ultimately you’ll have a longer term strategic vision that aligns with what you want to achieve, and the business will perform alongside that. So for us, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve openly always said that wellbeing is still nowhere near where it should be in terms of priorities for business, so it’s not about getting a market out there. That fizzles out after a year, two years. I’m doing a massive amount of market knowledge and research. We’re finding that businesses that have traditionally put in applications and platforms are losing engagement. They’re losing uptake to it, they’re losing the support of the businesses that they’re working with. The reason for that is that they’ve rushed into it saying, ‘this is what we think will work’, rather than ‘this is what works’. You need to speak to people, you need to have conversations with them, get feedback, reiterate, you need engaged and inspired employees and founding team members rather than people who’ve just come in because they’re jumping on the bandwagon that you’ve got a great salary and a great benefits package and the hours are good. From my perspective, it’s about bringing people on the journey. 

I was reading research through a partner of ours called Discover Your Bounce, and they said that engaged employees are 45% more productive than disengaged ones. Obviously, you’d expect that, but actually inspired employees are 55% more productive than even engaged employees, so what that means is people that actually believe in what you’re doing care about it. I’ll give you an example; when I worked with financial payments, you wouldn’t think that was something that would make you really keen to go out there and say ‘I’m selling financial payments to a company’. Actually, it was positioned as helping small businesses to fight the big giants and actually have a say, in the light of giving that person who’s setting up a store a chance to live their dream. That narrative gives you an inspired employee, that narrative motivates you to do well. It’s similar to recruitment. Most recruiters are focused around how many fees they made, but for me it was how many jobs I got for people. When you look at it that way, why am I getting up at five in the morning to go and work, go to the gym, work early doors to go and hit numbers? Be motivated by the fact that it could potentially change their lives, it could lead to something that does really well for them. That’s the bit that inspires people to do it. That gives you a far more successful outcome, I believe.

As you as you scale as a business, how are you going to ensure that every member of the team or the company can come on that journey with you?

Factor in the values. As companies grow and scale, obviously, that’s a great problem to have, but they do it very quickly. You rush into recruiting, you potentially don’t take as long as you want to have done to recruit and vet people that come into the company, and whether they’ll fit or whether they’re different and will provide new insight. One of the beautiful things about diversity and inclusion being much more of a focus is that you now have so many different personalities and people that will have new ideas that innovate. For us moving forward, we will always keep that feedback loop open. We’ll use our own tool within monitoring people’s mental health, making sure that they have a say, and a voice in the company to make changes. For us a wellbeing strategy brings people into that culture. So what do we want out of it? Well, we want happier, healthier, supported people, and we want them to be listened to. That’s grand, but you’ve got to put a number on it to be able to tell if it’s working or not. We say we’re going to spend X amount of money to make sure it gets to X level on a mood rating. We’ll say ‘you know what, we’ll ensure that our mood rating never goes below 60% out of 100’, that as a standard. If it does, we know there is a negative culture coming in, so we’ll need to do something about it. We put in systems that we want to reduce sick leave and those sorts of things. We want to reduce staff attrition, so put numbers in and make sure that we are held accountable to them. 

Ultimately, culture is just caring, allowing people to innovate, to be part of that journey and have a say in it. Whether you’re a new graduate or a senior leader, everyone has great ideas, it’s not just designated to anyone who’s in the C suite level. Just keeping that mentality, as you grow is vital. Why on earth would you not want to do that? Admittedly, businesses will turn around and say, ‘well, we’ve got 30,000 employees, we can’t do that’. There are always methods though – you can get regular real time feedback now from a load of providers. You can look at different areas, focus on different deliverables metrics, but provide people a voice so that they come on that journey with you. That’s the focus we’ll have as we grow.

To hear more about how to improve your company’s culture, listen to the full episode of The Talent & Growth Podcast here. 

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.