Business Podcast Post

Workplace Wellness with Nick Patel

George Grombacher March 6, 2022

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Workplace Wellness with Nick Patel

LifeBlood: We talked about workplace wellness programs, how they have changed and evolved, integrating mental health programs along with DEI and ESG, and why it can make sense to get started even if you’re not 100% ready, with Nick Patel, Founder and CEO of Wellable, a company dedicated to helping organizations establish successful employee wellness programs.  

Listen to learn what the future of wellness and data could look like!

You can learn more about Nick at Wellable.Co, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Thanks, as always for listening!  If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and subscribe as well. 

You can learn more about us at LifeBlood.Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook or you’d like to be a guest on the show, contact us at contact@LifeBlood.Live.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Nick Patel

Episode Transcript

Come on

life of this Georgie and the time is right, aka today’s guest strong and powerful Nick Patel. Nick, are you ready to do this?

Nick Patel 0:20
Absolutely. Let’s go for it.

george grombacher 0:21
Let’s go. Nick is the founder and CEO of wearable. They’re a company dedicated to helping organizations establish successful employee wellness programs that are aligned with company culture values and business goals. Nick, excited to have you back on the show. Tell us a little about your personal life’s more about your work and why you do what you do.

Nick Patel 0:42
Yeah, so Georgia no second time, we were chatting on the podcast. Since last time, we talked to new father trying to remember the exact date of our prior podcast, definitely before my first daughter was born. So do Father, for those of you who can relate, it’s a big change your life, you know, probably bigger change than gay marriage and all those types of life events. So that’s exciting, certainly managing my sleep the best I can just think about health and wellness perspective. But for those of you who are just listening for the first time, or deal with my prior podcast, I’m the founder and CEO of a wellness company called weldable. Effectively, we build a software and services solution to help companies keep their employees healthy, happy, productive, and just really thriving both their personal and professional lives. Nice to explain to to your daughter, like listen, I run a wellness company, you need to let me get a certain amount of sleep every night.

Yeah, eventually, I hope I hope to have that conversation with her.

george grombacher 1:46
Okay, and just wondering, it’s like frustrating, because I’ve been there not that I won’t run a wellness company anyway. I’m sure it’s all sure it’s all working out. Great. So so we are coming, theoretically speaking out of COVID people are returning to work, or or or they’re not people are doing hybrid? What is? What is your feeling your sense, your experience as you’re talking to companies about wellness right now?

Nick Patel 2:15
Yeah, so you know, going back to the early early days of the pandemic, the thing that we realized kind of quickly, when we were in the response and recovery phase, when everything was truly uncertain, was that our general thesis which has been so far held largely true, and I think this applies to companies like ours in the wireless space, as well, as companies broadly, certainly there. Each industry is impacted a little bit differently. But in general, I would say COVID Accelerate trends that we are already seeing in the market. And so I mean by that, you know, as you noted, remote work. We were we have a big blog blog a lot about how remote work was PTSD, more and more companies were doing it. The difference in this scenario was that companies were forced into remote work, as opposed to making the strategic decision, which takes time larger companies have bureaucracies and think about how do we perfectly roll this out from an IP perspective. COVID just forced them all to do it. And so those companies who were thinking about it before, certainly hadn’t jumped in the pool a bit quicker. Those companies who were adamantly against it had no real choice, they had to go remote. I think they for many of them, they’ve realized that at least partially, you know, whether they go hybrid or come back full time on site, they realize that many of their concerns, were not as big concerns, as you would think, right? Like a sales team can still be productive, working from home, right, your customer success team can still be productive, those things are certainly possible. And they were just kind of forced into it. So that trend was already happening. He was accelerated into many degrees, I don’t know where we are in that timeframe, if there’s gonna be a 10 year transition to remote work, I’m not sure if it happened fully in two years are exactly what’s going on. But it’s clear to us, you know, just talking to our clients, anecdotally, for our company as well. That remote work, to some degree is here to stay just personally on are you and I were talking before we started chatting on the podcast, we just signed a lease to a new office and like a lot of the friends I talked to, or, you know, founders and CEOs of companies are kind of a shock, like, Hey, why are you doing that right now? Well, one is when we signed the lease, we didn’t know exactly where we’d be in the pandemic. So we had take a little bit of a leap of faith. Omicron was not a word that anyone really knew at the time when we signed the lease. But from our perspective,

we thought that as a growing company, there’s a lot of learning to be had for myself, and every person who’s joining and we’re hiring a lot of folks, that learning tends to happen better in person, we don’t need to be on site 100% of the time, but from our perspective we wanted our target is to start with three days a week, once we’re past this kind of pandemic period and safe to do so. So exactly when that month will be I don’t know. But once we’re kind of back to what

was considered our new normal, we’ll be back three days a week. And that’s a shift from where we were before, which was five days a week. And so every company’s doing a little bit differently. But from our perspective, it’s just been all those type of trends, technology, adoption, remote work, etc, has just been accelerated in the pandemic.

george grombacher 5:16
Yeah, well, it certainly does make sense. So you talked about how people were worried about, we really want to do this perfectly. And that there’s, that’s a very, very human. And something that we all want to do is I’m going to do this thing, I want to do it the right way. And I’m going to stress out about it. But we as humans are pretty adaptable. And we know that just sometimes doing something, even though it’s not going to be perfect is going to give us the opportunity to be moving in the right direction, we can kind of make changes to it. How do you think about that in a company implementing a wellness program?

Nick Patel 5:52
Yeah, I would say even going back towards general feedback my life experience has taught me especially as it relates to your running wearable is that every time you think you have a hard transition, you do all this prep, work, do all these things. And you you know, maybe rightfully so you kind of stress and worry about a little bit, but it’s never as bad. As you anticipated. Right? I’ll give you example, for us, just from a product perspective, in December, we are going to roll out a way we calculate available points and I get into too much into the weeds effectively every activity you do within wearable, you earn well, the points, those transitions are kind of transferred to rewards incentives your employer can give you when we first started the way well, the points were calculated as relates to exercise minutes. So non step and non distance activities was one way. And at the time, I think, you know, looking back down is the right way to do it. things evolve, you know, new apps device or come out with time. So we had a different way to calculate it. So if we were going to start the company fresh or that way, we were doing the minutes calculation, we would do it differently. And we kept on delaying say, Hey, this is a hard change. Many people are in the middle of their program, how are you going to switch it? So the reality is we probably dragged our feet for another one or two years, not wanting to make the change, I was clear that how we started the company fresh, we would do it this way. And we finally you know, to pull the band aid off, rip it off, let’s communicate to our employers, let’s talk to our users in advanced, did all this extra communication. We prepped our support team to be ready for all these extra tickets, everything when we happen, it was a little bit anticlimactic, right. And the part of that’s because the prep work we did but part of it’s like when you’re maybe a step in the right direction. It’s easy to defeat the hate us the big change, and we really difficult to do but is clear to almost every stakeholder, especially when it’s like the most obvious decision that this is the right move to do. And they break through really quickly. So as it relates to employee wellness programs are doing, groups have to clearly change the nature of the program, some more than others. But if you were running hypothetically, it completely onsite program. So you pretty COVID Everyone’s in the office, you’re bringing in speakers and seminars you are having on site fitness classes, you maybe have a nutritionist on site or something that you’re very comprehensive program that completely goes away, the minute you get remote, right by choice, or not by choice, right? It’s just the nature of it, you have to go digital, and those transitions can seem hard. But in the moment, especially as relates to COVID. All the uncertainty, there’s an obviously, you had to go digital, you couldn’t just pause your program and wait it out. That didn’t make sense, especially with the kind of help the well being challenges employees experience in the early days of the pandemic and to a certain extent, the current situation that we’re in. So it often seems harder than it really is. But when you make that decision, and if the clear right decision to do we find that transitions pretty quickly, as relates to specific programming, we found that companies often talk behind the scenes about mental health. It was always concerned, he talked to an HR person, they recognized it, but there’s a natural stigma about mental health. So they weren’t encouraged their managers to be open about it, whether about their own personal struggles or things like that. It was something that went below the radar, everyone recognized as an important concept, which was still a big step forward. Because 10 years ago, people wouldn’t have had that conversation. So we were clearly progressing. But what COVID did is accelerate everything, as I mentioned before, and accelerate the need to make to address something like mental health. And so these groups, being employers found themselves in a situation where they knew they should be doing something, it was clearly the right move. They had to go digital, they had to address different dimensions of health, for example, mental health, and they started having some of this maybe uncomfortable conversations, they started rolling out benefits that specifically addressed those challenges employers or employees were going through whether it was compounded by the pandemic or not, I think they were taking action in response to it and I think where we are is just in a better place. We have more flexible work environments. We had more companies considering Thinking about the mental health well being of their employees and things like that.

george grombacher 10:04
Yeah, it does strike me as a super exciting time. And I remember that we talked the first time about how seemed like we were on the brink of of getting past a lot of the a lot of the stigmas around mental health and now you’ve had Naomi Osaka and I’m gonna blank on the young lady who is you know, the best Olympian gymnast ever. She came up Simone Biles came out and talked about it, there was a documentary by Mara about Marty fish, he’s a professional tennis player. So it seems like we are progressing in a really positive way. Do you see? I’m thinking back to all the things that we were talking about pre pandemic, it seemed like we were talking a lot about values more so than we were talking about them before. And talking about mental health now. And just a more integrated approach to just talking about business and making money. People are obviously always valuing their employees. But do you see that continuing to to trend and evolve? I’m asking the longest question I’ve ever asked anybody ever. But as from an integrative wellness standpoint, more so than just diet and exercise. Now, it’s mental health. Do you see that going further?

Nick Patel 11:20
I think so. I mean, at the very least, when we talk about trends, they’re never in absolutes. So even though mental health is trending, employers are adopting at greater rates. And before, there’s still a significant portion of employers that are not doing. And so I think, in general, you’re going to see that trend, or that adoption rate increase over time? I think the bigger question, at least the one I think about a lot, it’s like, how far do they go? Right? With mental health? It’s one of those weird concepts where, just from a financial perspective, right, companies who are even very interested in trying to help their employers, or employees with mental health have limitations from a financial perspective, right. So whether it’s a health plan, consideration of how much, and how many sessions with your therapist, when we reimburse, I know a lot of CEOs of companies who are, from a values perspective will want to fully cover it, they completely understand the value of it, but just the financial position of the company. Just key they couldn’t do that. So I think to see where companies are drawing the lines, for what is a value based decision, also, what’s a recruitment decision, we hear a lot about mental health now becoming something less of a stigma. People feel comfortable asking about those benefits in the recruitment process, because they recognize those benefits are things that they want to have before they’re maybe a little bit shy of asking for, for those types of questions like, What are your mental health benefits and things like that? Because they didn’t want to raise any red flags, right? Since that stigma, and that cloud is gonna be removed to a certain degree, those individuals are asking those questions. And the reason we’re asking is because it matters to them, and manage them. In a way that should matter to the employer for no other reason than the recruitment and retention process, getting those the right town and the right people, and things of that nature. I do think in general, though, companies are always heading in the right direction, in the sense that it may or may not be as fast as we want. But in general, they’re moving to the right direction. So whether it’s financial well being and the things that you do with money live Academy, whether it’s mental health, whether it’s things like ESG, right, so companies really thinking about, you know, how can we be sustainable in our businesses, even if we don’t have a large carbon footprint, everyone can do a little bit more do a little bit better. We see this with diversity, equity inclusion, right? We’ve always blogged and talked about that topic. But we’re finding our companies now or, you know, when we would go through a sales process, even though we were trying to dress that in our product, it wasn’t a question we often received by Di. And now we’re beginning to get those type of questions, which is a reflection that those companies are beginning to consider that factor as they think about even the little things like the wellness program.

george grombacher 14:05
Yeah, that’s a bit of positive thing. I appreciate you sort of bringing that full circle and talking about ESG. And the AI. And these are, these are big things that maybe were sort of talked about in the past, but very much on the forefront. And I guess we can’t expect companies to implement and change everything immediately. And there’s financial considerations as well. So I appreciate that. In terms of actual physical fitness, with our phones, we can obviously access you know, classes and stuff like that, but do you see any trends coming up that you’re excited about? Or devices, whatever it might be?

Nick Patel 14:50
Skewed question, I feel like I spend most of my time thinking about the non physical fitness portion of it. There’s a lot of saturation is not the right word, but There are a lot of tough competitors out there that are trying to do unique and interesting things. I feel like most of its around your heart rate in your workout time. And what does that mean that kind of how are you managing optimizing heart rate during those bouts or spurts of fizzy activity. The other thing is relates, I think, I’ve put this under physical fitness, maybe it’s under sleep or recovery. But there are a lot of groups out there who are tying their E phys activity portion of their device or tracker around recovery, taking it, you know, it’s a two sided coin, as much as you’re thinking about how to exhaust your energy to make yourself stronger, faster, better. How do you recover in a way that allows you to exceed your capacity previously, because that’s a big portion of that. And so those are often deeply tied together. I’m not sure if that’s technically his activity or not. But we’re seeing that coupled with this activity tracking, I think the thing that I find most interesting, I’ll give you one example of it. But there are a ton of groups out there. And I’m an advocate that this is the best one necessarily. But Microsoft has this new product or feature or feature set called Viva. And so we’re Microsoft stack at our company. So we use teams, we use Outlook, we use Office, things like that. And what Viva does effectively is takes a whole host of data points, like for example, though, Hey, Nick, you’re on teams kind of late last night, you’re sending emails late, right? You spent a lot of time on this one specific word document working, which may be a sign that it’s kind of exhausting tasks, there’s a lot of effort that went into it. I don’t know exactly what the algorithms and things are, that go into the Viva kind of computation, but they want to start identifying stress scores, risk scores, all geared around mental health. They want to combined company’s wellness program data, in terms of biometrics and things like that. I think they’re very much in the early days, a figure based on Nick’s profile, what does that mean? You know, so for example, and what I mean by that is, you know, for example, we have a very flexible work schedule that our company, so I could, in theory be setting like late night emails, but that’s just a reflection that not very active in the middle of day, because maybe you have to take my daughter’s school pick her up and things like that I choose to take breaks throughout the day, and make up for them later at night. So it’s not always necessarily a bad thing to say, globally, if someone sends an email out late night, that is something that you don’t want. And that’s not always the case, because the company providing them with the flexibility to do what they want to do. And yeah, maybe not working in the middle of day but working a little bit at night, that can be an indication of health, not, you know, something negative, necessarily. So they’re just inputting all this data. For someone like me, specifically, I’m on my computer all the time. So if you’re collecting all the data points from my computer, which is a Microsoft laptop, and all the Office suites and things I’m using, you have so much access to information that I think they’re gonna eventually uncover something that’s really meaningful insight perspective. And what the action item is, is still unclear. But it could be something really small all that data could come out two simple acts Dimas, Hey, Nick, we noticed that based on all these factors, you may be feeling a little bit overwhelmed right now, why don’t you take five minutes and go for a quick walk, right? Or do a breathing exercise or something, hey, by the way, here’s one you can use right now on your computer. Like it’s already there. It’s already right in front of you, front and center. And I think that’s what’s going to end up being is such a deeply integrated to the technologies we use that provide really small steps and actions. And so that’s just one example where I think I’m really excited about how that develops and transforms. And the good thing about Microsoft is the data, what’s often difficult about some of these next generation technologies is that they require certain data points that are difficult to obtain. Microsoft, I don’t know what their user base is, but it’s like, well into the hundreds of millions of people use Microsoft Office, so they can really deploy reasonably intelligent solutions to a huge portion of the population without them doing anything that that’s already built into the products that you use. And I think that’s really meaningful, impactful.

george grombacher 19:06
That’s fascinating. totally fascinating, and I think that that makes a ton of sense. Pardon me.

Nick Patel 19:14
Yeah, no worries.

george grombacher 19:18
little frog in my throat here, Nick. Wow. So maybe your computer’s just gonna say Nick, close the computer for a couple of minutes, buddy. Take a step back.

Nick Patel 19:30
I’m sure wait for them to say something or am I the right this is

george grombacher 19:36
nice if that makes all the sense in the world. You know, I what’s running through my head are like Black Mirror scenarios or something like that. But see making suggestions about just little interventions here or there which which which you mentioned such a positive thing. Just get up and take a walk. If you find yourself getting frustrated or burned out or overwhelmed, which is just a absolutely natural byproduct of working with screens and technology that, that the more information about that the more data, and then the more you can empower somebody to be recognizing, when they’re kind of running up against that kind of thing. That’s a really positive thing.

Nick Patel 20:20
The one thing I’ll say, so I’ve actually never seen black mirror. And generally I kind of know what the concept is because people, people who hear me talk about data mentioned it often. So I don’t think I’m way off. The one thing I’ll say about data. And so we Skype, we are concerned about my data, like, I don’t have a Facebook account, I don’t, you know, I, I think about where I’m browsing and things like that. My daughter who kind of full circle here, never sees a TV or a cell phone, right? I can see how quickly She’s addicted because if she ever sees me on it, she’s like, staring at it. So I’m like, No, it’s we have like, no phone time. And things like that, when you know, her wake hours aren’t very long, but we try to hear to it. But one thing I’ll say about data is I always come back to like, what are the economic incentives that are there for the company? Who’s the you know, data processor, right? That’s the technical GDPR term, but like Facebook, what is their economic sector? Right, their economic center is have you hyper engaged, right? And super focused, and maybe eliciting motions, good or bad? So you can see how, whether they’re ill intended or not, am I trying to weigh in on it, that their goal was to make you hyper engage has unintended consequences that are detrimental to your personal health or society in general, and things like that. So right, so I, so I always think about that from that lens. So I think that’s like viva, for example, Microsoft, their goal is, you know, they’re not making money off the data, necessarily, right, they’re making money if you have a subscription to Office and excel and making your life more productive and healthy. So their incentive would be if this individual does take a break, he comes back 10x Better can finish the day strong. That is their economic incentive, in some ways, they’re not charging for the product to charge you for Office separately, not to say that they wouldn’t be a bad steward of your data, anyone can be a bad steward, but the economic centers don’t encourage them to do so right, where groups are generally on the consumer end with free products like Google search, or Facebook or things like that. That’s where the incentive begins, I think to get questionable, and sometimes leads to unintended consequences. So but you as relates to health or well being or any concept like device I give anyone that be really sensitive to data is as valuable to you as many of the personal material items you have. And you should treat it as such.

george grombacher 22:42
Like that, that makes a ton of sense. Well, Nick, thanks for coming back on where can people learn more about you? And what’s the best way for companies to engage with wearable?

Nick Patel 22:52
Yeah, so always you come to our website, it’s WW dot weldable, w e LL, a So we’re run those companies that don’t have address, it just starts you. There, you have a whole host information about a company or product. But where I always tell people to start is kind of where we start perspective, from just a market perspective, which is educate ourselves on what’s going on and health and well being. So on that website, we have a blog, we have a link to a thought leadership group we launched recently called Well, Blabs that just does proprietary research, do surveys, things like that. Post free webinars is an opportunity for you to learn about health and wellness in general and specifically as it relates to the way we try to improve that society perspective, which is organizational health, working with employers and things like that.

george grombacher 23:39
Awesome. Have you enjoyed this as much as I did? So Nick, your appreciation and share today share with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to It’s W E, ll a Bl E. That CO and check out all those great resources. Check out the thought leadership group that Nick was just talking about and find out how you can help your employees become happier and healthier and and more productive. Thanks. Good, Nick.

Nick Patel 24:06
Yep, absolutely. Thanks for having me.

george grombacher 24:07
And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

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