Interview with Heather Beach is the founder and director of The Healthy Work Company

Heather Beach is the founder and director of The Healthy Work Company, a unique model that offers tailored training solutions in line with office culture and support employers’ wellbeing strategies. 

Heather is a positive psychologist and a leader in her field in health and safety and HR. She has been quoted in the Financial Times and writes regularly for numerous industry publications.

She is currently working with ITV, London Luton Airport, Mace and The Telegraph delivering courses to enable managers to spot signs and symptoms of distress, have the confidence to start better conversations, and empower them with the tools to have teams which thrive.

THWC moved online last year and given the current coronavirus situation she is now delivering training via webinar, including new healthy home working courses for managers and employees. 

What’s your career background?

I started in information services and then ended up running business in the health and safety sector. I was in denial for many years about my “fit” in either profession, but decided in the end that as I kept coming back to health and safety it must be fate.

I ended up embracing it and have been part of the move to get health and safety people understanding their need for emotional intelligence and influencing skills and in helping to rebrand health and safety. I started a women’s group for my sector which now has 2500 members.

How did your career change after having children?

I struggled massively as I was not only going back part time with my daughter 18 months old, I was also coming back to the UK having spent three years in Australia, going back in a much more junior position to someone who had nowhere near as much experience as I did and who was very insecure. 

I didn’t really find my feet again until our people director started a “women’s programme” I started to understand some of the unconscious patterns which had been running me, as well as some of the unwritten rules there are for men and women at work and how these make it much harder for women to reach senior levels

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I was at the end of my 40s and thought do I want to go into my 50s in a large corporate? I loved my job but felt there were things I would rather spend my life on. 

So I looked at a Japanese model called Ikagai and wrote lists of what I thought I was good at, what I loved doing, what I cared about and what the world would pay me for! 

I saw that I thought I was good at speaking in public and writing (and I also loved doing those things), I cared about people thriving in life and I thought maybe there was a market for that right now.

How did you move from idea to actual business?

I had conversations with partners and friend in the industry to gage support and it was there. I gave my boss six months notice, remortgaged my house and hired Alastair Campbell to speak at my launch event. I was terrified that the risk wouldn’t pay off but I broke even on the conference and got lots of business out of it!

What’s your USP?

Lots of people in this space talk about mental health but actually focus their efforts on examining mental illness. We think that these are just human being issues and that every human has the propensity to struggle with their mental heath just as we do with our physical health.

We think that enabling people to thrive in the workplace is a combination of effort from the organisation, the managers and the individual.  We believe in personal responsibility and education being the foundation of all of this.

 Who’s your target audience?

Health and safety, HR, L and D, Risk professionals.

How do you spread the word about what you do?

LinkedIn – I am known as a shameless self promoter! Articles, free sessions for leaders, providing useful content for free – eg infographics

What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?

The initial conference worked really well for us and then beyond that i am just a relationship builder. I work with about 60 people at the moment but I know about half of them really well

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

Managing the finances – terrible at times – though we are better now; burn out (ironic I know, but work makes me happy so I have a tendency to do too much)

And your proudest moment so far?

These last few weeks we have turned on a sixpence and completely pivoted our business model. A lot of hard work from me and my team learning new skills, revising our courses, changing our marketing so that we can continue to be completely relevant. Moments of inspiration followed up by a lot of hard work.

Why is work so important to you?

As a positive psychologist I believe that good work, when you work within your strengths is so good for you. Working within your strengths where you still have a slight stretch and challenge makes you lose track of time and you are utterly happy when you do so!

My work also provides me meaning and purpose, connections with some wonderful people.

Who inspires you?

Jacinda Arden, PM of NZ for her courage to be herself. Similarly Jess Phillips and Greta Thunberg.

How do you balance your work with your family?

I have one daughter of 14 and I love spending time with her. I often finish work at 3pm and pick her up from school. These are much easier times though than when she was a toddler!

What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?

  1. Make sure you have AT LEAST six to nine months money in the bank.
  2. Get a good accountant and bookkeeper.
  3. Work with only those you completely trust and love working with – I include customers in this, but certainly partners and employees too.

Find out more about The Healthy Work Company.