Conversations that Matter Podcast Series: Episode 3

As we continue season 2 of the OpenBlend podcast, Anna Rasmussen sat down and spoke with Elizabeth Cowper, Founder and CEO of We Are Ludo.

Conversations that Matter Podcast: Episode 3 with Elizabeth Cowper

OpenBlend Podcast Series: Conversations that matter

Episode 3: Elizabeth Cowper, We Are Ludo

Welcome back to our conversations that matter podcast series. This week, we're joined by Elizabeth Cowper, Founder and CEO of We Are Ludo. Ludo provide tech for inclusion, working to close the gender pay gap, educating, informing and supporting HR. 

OpenBlend's Founder and CEO, Anna Rasmussen, sat down with Elizabeth to discuss how organisations can and should create an individualised approach when it comes to their employee experience, ensuring that today's workforce feel seen and heard. 


'...and I think line managers understanding the 'why' of the benefit of these conversations is really, really important."

Can you tell us more about We Are Ludo? 

We are a subscription platform for companies, and once subscribed, all employees have immediate access to support in specific areas that we currently cover which are: maternity, menopause, health, including mental health, and fertility. So if an employee is wanting more resource, a bit of extra help, wants to learn more, is looking to help their own wellbeing through any of those areas, once their company has subscribed, they can jump in and get help from our expert partners. 

We know that a lot of the time with employees, unless we can create a culture of openness and inclusion, they might just put their head down and pretend it's not happening. They may get signed off sick, be absent from work, be emotionally struggling with these things outside of work, and we want to bring that to the forefront and say, you are welcome here, we are supporting you. We then have our HR learning hub for HR and line managers really on the how and the why to drive a culture of wellbeing and inclusion to support that, and how to really embed it into the day to day lens of how that business is run.

Can you tell us more about how you support organisations you work with to embed these behaviours and drive a culture of openness?  

It's a great question, one of the things that's really important when you're doing culture work is to understand this is never a one and done situation. What I mean by that is that there are many brilliant benefits and resources available to employees, I've certainly seen this in my career, HR has launched a new benefit, or it might go in the handbook, or welcome letter and then it's not spoken about again, and we're not pointing fingers, it's just because they have moved onto something else. I'm being really simplistic about this, but when you do deep culture work, one of the things that's really important is repeating the message and in different ways.

So, if you look at driving a culture of inclusion, that's a perfect example. You want to talk about that at onboard for every new starter, every single time there's a town hall, or a company meeting, or whatever you do in your business that brings the company together. Whether you have an intranet, or you have a monthly or weekly bulletin, how are we highlighting different parts about what the company's doing. We don't want to say the same thing every single week, but if we're standing up and saying, we have a resource available to you to support your mental health, and the next month we're talking about a resource to help give a really consistent support throughout maternity leave, but talking about it over and over and over again to give as much resource as many reminders as possible is really how to get the uptake and the embedding of a resource platform, such as Ludo into your business. So to really drive the culture, it's talking about it, reminding people, speaking to line managers, having it as part of your conversation, sharing it together in 1:1 updates and really embedding it into how the business operates. 


At OpenBlend we're all about facilitating and enabling effective 1:1s between a manager and employee. Some of these topics can be quite sensitive, how does what we're talking about link to individualised 1:1s ?

I think it's having line managers understand why it's important to talk about it in the 1:1, and the why is so important. You've got to know the purpose of that person and what really motivates them and how you connect with them, and I think line managers understanding the why of the benefit of these conversations is really, really important. We know that actually, employees want to feel included and valued, inclusive businesses have improved team performance by up to 30%, which is a statistic from Gartner, and inclusive companies are 30% more financially successful than their competition, a statistic that came from McKinsey. So we know that there are deep personal reasons, but also financial reasons for line managers to get behind these conversations and truly take the time to engage and understand each employee's purpose and motivators to have them feel a sense of belonging and psychological safety in the workplace. A more engaged employee is more productive, they have a higher happiness index, they want to stay longer, so there is a really deep purpose as to why this benefits individuals who are supported in the workplace. 

What other things do you think really impact how valued and seen today's workforce feel? 

Getting feedback from your people is critical. I've seen this with organisations when we first meet them, they say, we're doing this and this around inclusion and wellbeing, and I say to them, what did you learn then when you spoke to your people? A lot of the time they've put in a great strategy, but didn't ask the people first, and I think that's a really important key in how you shift the dial.

Every company is different, and you want to know where you're starting from to know where you're going, and Employee Representative Groups are another really key part of this. So if you have ERGs in your business, create a methodology in which they give you feedback and then take the action to share what you're going to be doing about it. Now, two things happen with that, first of all, you're listening to those groups and really hearing what they want, and then it's really important to take the action. If for any reason that action isn't appropriate, it doesn't work at that time, or there might be funding required to put an initiative in place, even if you feedback and say, we're looking at this for next year, or we can't do it now, but you can't ignore it, you have to be able to openly speak about them.

Getting that feedback and having that loop, creates safety, so people feel that when they speak, they're heard, even if the action doesn't happen immediately, they know that's on the radar, and they've been heard, and they've had a voice, and that it's something that's being thought about or considered, and you might commit to going back in a year and revisiting that thing, but that person has still been heard. Then what the safety element does, is it makes people feel they're more able to show up at work as their authentic self, because they can feel free to have a view, and that builds a very safe culture, so talking to your employees is massive, it's really big.  

You can listen to the full episode, and past episodes, over at Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.

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