Erik van den Top is the founder of Transformative Insights, a company which specializes in working with leaders and professionals in organizations to help them be at their very best – focusing on health, wellness, and performance.
Erik’s company advises organizations on how they can lead and design for well-being and sustainable high performance. Firstbeat Life is one of the key tools that Transformative Insights uses to create the framework environment for making and sustaining behavioural and lifestyle changes.
Why Erik Chose to Become a Firstbeat Life Partner
Erik began his professional career as an engineer – driving him towards taking a more scientific and data-driven approach to well-being as a foundation for high performance. As well-being in organizations is an area which is often considered to be quite abstract, Erik decided to begin using Firstbeat.
“I started using Firstbeat Life with individual clients, but very quickly realized that it had organizational application. There was a great opportunity to integrate Firstbeat’s technology to build a really well-designed program to help people make and sustain behavioural and lifestyle changes. This not only enhanced their health and well-being but also enabled them to attain and sustain highly effective leadership and performance. One of the key things that I like about Firstbeat is the ability to objectively quantify people’s health, well-being, and performance.”
In addition to supporting a more data-driven approach to well-being and performance, the program encourages clients to experiment with their daily routine and activities whilst using Firstbeat Life. They can then see what change is most effective in improving their well-being and therefore their performance. He explains:
“The other thing that I really like about Firstbeat Life is that it enables people to experiment. This makes for really rich conversations where we might say ‘hey well look, we know that for other people who have struggled to get recovery during sleep it can be really helpful to do these kinds of things. Don’t take our word for it, pick one or two of these strategies that resonate with you, implement them, and then do another measurement and see how it shows up in the data’.”
Erik also finds the ability to add journal information particularly valuable –clients can correlate the data with what they were doing at the time of measurement, leading to powerful and often life changing insights.
“I think another feature which is a real differentiator for Firstbeat is the overlay of journal information with the data. There’s other technology out there that measures and provides data but none of them overlay it like Firstbeat does. That’s where the value is.
For example, one leader in a client organization reported that driving home was her “me time” and the opportunity to unwind and relax. It turned out, based on the Firstbeat data, that it was actually the most stressful part of her day. This insight sparked a good conversation – if that’s your me time, then how can you engage in your commute in a different way so it does become not just mentally relaxing, but physiologically more beneficial?”
Using Firstbeat Life in High Performance Environments – Taking a Preventative Approach
Erik and his team specialize in working with several industries who have been under huge pressure in recent years, and whose leaders have struggled to lead their teams through these tough times.
Erik believes that performance and effective leadership is built on a foundation of wellness and that highly effective leaders embrace the importance of designing the organization for well-being.
“In order to have really good well-being in an organization, you need to have effective leaders that can ‘lead for well-being’. Leaders aren’t able to do that if they’re not well themselves. It’s often quite a tricky dilemma for organizations and that’s what we specialize in. The question is: How can we develop and support leaders to have good personal wellness as a foundation for highly effective leadership? It is these leaders that ultimately lift the ceiling on organizational well-being and thus sustainable high performance.”
Erik has also noticed that one challenge currently affecting all sectors is attracting and retaining good staff, and organizational well-being can play a significant role here. He explains,
“I think there’s a real lack of understanding around the science of organizational well-being. Leaders often think it’s enough to throw offer employees a few well-being benefits, like a gym membership and running some educational sessions. This can be helpful, but the reality is that there’s a massive divide between knowing and doing.
There’s more well-being knowledge than ever before but much less well-being. I think the opportunity to support people with making and sustaining lifestyle changes can only happen if leaders ‘lead for well-being’ and the organization is designed for well-being. For example, when, it becomes socially acceptable to have a break in between meetings, and to go for a run at lunchtime, and to not open your emails after 7pm at night.
Taking this approach creates a paradigm shift in how organizations support their staff’s well-being and sets them up for sustainable high performance. Compared to other organizations’ focus on only providing the lower-level well-being benefits, this then also creates a differentiating employee value proposition (EVP).”
Using Firstbeat Life in Practice
Erik and his team use Firstbeat Life in their work with leadership teams, and professional staff, as well as in their advisory and research projects for organizations.
“We have a signature program for leaders which includes the use of Firstbeat Life, a ‘lead for well-being’ educational component, and leadership coaching with a focus also on enhancing the leaders’ own resilience, well-being, and leadership effectiveness.
There’s also a program for professional staff. People take a baseline Firstbeat Life measurement and then we have group sessions, online learning, and individual coaching sessions to take them on a health, well-being, and performance enhancement journey. The program involves ongoing Firstbeat measurements to support data-driven feedback loops that generate ongoing insights to help people make and sustain targeted changes.
One of our clients is the Financial Markets Authority – we’ve now taken more than 100 of their people through the program and we’ve got really good data around lifts in well-being and performance, including individual feedback and testimonials. The program continues to attract very high Net Promotor scores.
We also use Firstbeat in our research and advisory projects for a variety of organizations. For example to identify key pain points and opportunities and then using that data to inform the development of a well-being strategy or specific design changes in the organization.”
To Other Professionals Considering Using Firstbeat Life
Erik believes that Firstbeat Life’s data is a powerful tool that professionals who operate in the high performance and wellness sectors can use to offer a very personalized approach rather than a one size fits all strategy (which rarely leads to behavioral change). Alongside your professional guidance to support and sustain behavioral changes, the data can be a great motivator for clients.
Erik also thinks that becoming a Firstbeat Life Partner enhances your credibility. He says, “Often people look at us and think ‘it’s all woo-woo kind of stuff and it’s not grounded in science and data’. However, if you integrate science-backed tools and demonstrate appropriate certification it can significantly enhance your credibility and your ability to attract clients and increase revenue.”
There’s a definite trend towards the use of precision data and a desire from organizations to have access to that and have it supported by people who know what they’re doing, who are trained and qualified.
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