Claire Elmes is a wellbeing Consultant and CEO for Inspire You Wellbeing. She has had over 14 years in the wellbeing industry, previously being employed by the NHS, Local Authority and Voluntary Sector as well as self-employed. She brings a wealth of experience to support individuals, teams and organisations to help make small changes to improve their wellbeing. Claire’s aim is to help people recognise the signs of stress and burnout, and ensure companies and individuals alike have the right support in place.
Claire always knew she wanted to help people and work in the helping profession but didn’t know what. She started out as a child therapist where she ended up working in social care. When people say they ‘fell into their career,’ this was literally what happened and this led her into a journey working with children and families around mental health and social care needs.
Claire Elmes, Emotional Wellbeing Therapist & Life Coach
So who is Claire Elmes?
I have undertaken a lot of identity work with myself and others and am still working this out! I have a growth mindset and am constantly developing my identity, which evolves as I do. I am motivated, innovative, caring, positive and family orientated.
I am creeping towards a new decade later this year (which does make you reflect on the previous decade doesn’t it!). I am a mother of 2 girls: 3, and 6, and a dog. I am a wife, sister and good friend. I am a fitness enthusiast and love challenges having completed a skydive, tough mudder, triathlon and sea swam the seven sisters to name a few achievements. I love trying out the latest tech devices and enjoy running along the seafront and being by the sea and outside.
I believe in work life balance and spending quality time as a family. I love advocating for the underdog, which I think comes from my love of football. I am an avid Brighton and Hove Albion Football supporter having been coaxed to ‘kids for a quid’ games as a child. I supported them through thick and thin, up and down the divisions travelling the breadth of the country ( sometimes with a heavy canvas flag in tow!). I was a season ticket holder for 19 years, giving up recently due to having 2 young children and making other priorities with my weekends.
I love music and going to see bands and have pretty much seen every good band since the mid 90’s at least once. I love going out for brunches and spas with the girls (if only this could be a weekly/ monthly event!) and generally finding interesting things to do. I love holidays and am really hoping we can actually go on our 2 rescheduled holidays from 2020 this year, literally cannot wait!
Can you tell us your motivations behind the work you do?
My motivation behind the work I do stems from experiences I have had and overcome. I suffered bullying as a child and had low self esteem for most of my childhood and early 20’s. When I was looking at what I wanted to do I knew I wanted to help people. I am really passionate about supporting individuals to be the best version of themselves. When I started training as a therapist you need to do personal therapy and this was incredibly insightful for me. I worked on my self esteem, processing bullying, difficult past relationships and friendships and my parents separation and realised I have overcome many challenges that keep people stuck and I can actually help others because if I can overcome these things, anyone can.
One of my biggest drivers was when I reached burnout in 2015 following a significant restructure at work and some authoritative bullying micro-managers who made everyone’s lives extra difficult. At that time I would have never sought help as I thought it meant you were weak and couldn’t cope. I was never very good at keeping my head down and getting on with things, because I have a firm value on fairness and principles and because I stood up for myself and others, I often stuck my head above the parapet ready to get shot! I remember this was just before my wedding and I was working 60 hour weeks. I remember my husband-to-be literally closing my laptop and saying ‘you're done’ as I was frantically trying to get everything done before I went away. Having time to step back and reflect allowed me to work out what is important and I left. I feel there are pivotal stages in our lives where we have this reflection and I believe this is what a lot of us get when we are on maternity leave, gap years, and during the pandemic in particular. The great resignation has all been about people not putting up with things anymore and I feel on the whole, this is a good thing.
I am passionate about supporting others to raise awareness of stress and burnout and help prevent as many people as I can from heading there and seeking help at the right time. Since I returned from maternity leave with my first child in 2017 I have not, and would not, work 5 days per week. I am really passionate about the new 4 day per week trials and I look forward to working with the pilot project this year to support companies to make the shift to 4 day weeks.
So tell us more about what you do?
We work with individuals and businesses in a variety of ways to improve performance and wellbeing through science-backed techniques. We complete wellbeing analysis, undertake staff wellbeing assessments and obtain data for where the needs are within the company, to help find the gaps in the current wellbeing strategy. We offer webinars, workshops, coaching and therapy (both 1:1 and team coaching). Now that the world is slowly opening up we are hoping to host some wellbeing days this year which would bring both physical and emotional wellbeing together seamlessly.
What businesses are you looking to work with?
We are looking at working with SME’s and can tailor packages of support to larger corporate companies. What we focus on is working with businesses that are looking to improve wellbeing support for their staff and really value it. We are a bespoke personal service and we want to work with people who are motivated to make changes to the workplace culture and are passionate about improving staff wellbeing.
We are based in West Sussex and can offer face-to-face for companies locally, as well as a national service by offering online sessions for companies further afield. We can do face to face for bespoke projects further afield, for us, it is all about making sure that staff are supported in the best way possible.
There’s a huge question on companies' shoulders of why bother investing into wellbeing services, and budget holders trying to justify more expensive budgets, but we know that since the pandemic there has been an increase in stress-related sickness and productivity within the workplace and if there is one ‘good’ thing the pandemic has brought it is an awareness that wellbeing is important and cannot be taken lightly. No longer is it good enough to have just an EAP and employees are looking at the benefits companies are offering as well as the job itself. Managing the wellbeing of your employees helps with staff retention, performance and motivation within the workplace. It actually saves money!
What is the next big goal for you coming up?
The next big goal for me is that I am currently completing my online wellbeing assessment with an IT company to have the data pulled and analysed easily. Individuals would get a wellbeing score with a breakdown of where their strengths and weaknesses are and companies would get a GDPR compliant oversight of the key themes easily, no more clunky staff survey analysis. This is going to save us time and also help companies measure the effectiveness of strategies they are implementing. We recently undertook some research and nearly 60% of companies are not measuring the effectiveness of wellbeing strategies! We can then bring this into staff focus groups and really engage with staff to find out what changes need to be made.
My other focus for this year is the wellness days: mornings focusing on staff wellbeing from physical testing, nutrition, sleep, posture, coaching to yoga and breathwork. The idea is a morning submersed in finding new wellbeing techniques for staff to take into their day to day wellbeing. Then an afternoon of team building and fun, who doesn’t love a challenge and beating their manager, or working as a team to complete an escape room/ experience.
If you could give those reading this article, three tips to start improving their wellbeing, what would they be?
Take breaks ‒ we really do underestimate the importance of taking time away from work, even just sitting outside with a cuppa when the sun is shining can make a massive difference.
Make time for lifestyle habits such as eating right, sleeping, exercise (I know we all bang on about these key habits but they really do make a difference!)
Be creative on how to improve team dynamics. Work is not just task-focused, there needs to be the relational element to work for staff to feel valued.