Enabling mental wellbeing through technology
By Susan Reis, BSG People Effectiveness Executive
and Brendon Wilson, BSG Technology Capability Leader
14 months ago as the Covid-19 pandemic became a reality, most businesses in across the globe were grappling to understand the immediate actions necessary to enable continued productivity in a remote reality. As borders closed and lockdowns were enforced, IT departments scrambled to enable work from home, and business leaders embarked on scenario planning, adjusted targets, cut costs and did what was necessary to keep their businesses in the black.
But, one thing that many business leaders failed to consider was the human cost. With all the emphasis on infrastructure requirements, the needs of the people were often underestimated or, worse, forgotten.
Putting people first
In the professional services industry, people are the key ingredient for success. Without top-quality, high-performing, highly motivated people, professional services firms cannot create optimal value for their clients. BSG has always been a ‘people-first’ business and, with the heightened risk the pandemic posed, the senior leadership crafted the motto of “being informed, being calm, being highly collaborative with our people and our clients and importantly, being kind and caring to one another.” This is the motto on which BSG’s Covid-19 response, led by People Effectiveness Executive, Susan Reis, is based.
This approach was multi-pronged, with a focus on providing support to all BSGers through leadership structures within the business, various mental health enablers, and a technology-driven innovation, dubbed MapMyMood.
BSG's Wellness Enablers Landscape
Understanding the impact of the pandemic, the isolation of work from home, and the economic uncertainty weighing heavily on the minds of its people, BSG’s leadership sought to create a simple way for its people to share open, honest feedback around their holistic wellbeing. The solution needed to tie into the existing landscape of mental and physical wellness enablers, and provide a simple, accessible means to capture and track their wellbeing. Understanding the interconnectedness of home and work life, particularly with a work from home, the tool needed to provide a view of individual wellbeing relative to home and work.
With this in mind, a small team of BSG technologists was mobilised to build a minimum viable product (MVP) to test the concept. The team chose to rapidly build and prototype using Microsoft Power Apps. This low-code solution automatically integrated into various Office 365 components and enabled the team to build the first prototype in just two weeks. This rapid deployment meant useful insights could be built into how BSG’s people and leadership interacted with the solution as it evolved.
After a few weeks – and a number of development iterations of the PowerApps solution – it became clear that the ability to scale, both reach and functionality, was key. As a result, the decision was made to move to the more scalable, feature-rich Microsoft Azure Cloud platform. To keep things simple, and manage costs, “serverless” Azure Functions technology was used. This provided a scalable, fully featured back-end with an Angular front-end, which could be integrated with BSG’s employee relationship management system, known as MyWorkLife (MWL), and with Microsoft Teams for seamless access across the business.
It’s easy to underestimate the importance of intentional care for people, to get caught up in running a successful business – or simply keeping it afloat – but the tangible benefits are undeniable. Through the use of this innovative solution, BSG’s leadership has been able to proactively identify “hotspots” through the thousands of instances of feedback across the business. This could come in the form of highlighting where people are feeling overworked, unduly stressed with the converging demands of remote work and home schooling, the sense of isolation that lockdown bought or generally just not feeling their best. With the help of leadership structures, individualised discussions have been enabled. BSG Career facilitators – known more broadly as ‘managers’ – are empowered to help across their ecosystems, ensuring a robust culture of genuine care across the business.
The final MapMyMood solution highlighted the advantages of pairing highly skilled people developing on innovative cloud technologies with agile, iterative practices, and the end result was achievement of an extremely valuable business outcome on a very short timeline.