PepTalks WellFest Round-up & Powering your world including the workplace, through human connection

The movement around wellbeing is continuing to become more mainstream and accessible for more people. It would have been inconceivable 10 years ago to host a wellbeing themed festival in Ireland and yet last weekend almost 10000 people meditated, exercised and stretched their way through two days of expert classes with not a drop of alcohol in site!

If there was further proof of how mainstream wellbeing is, look no further than the blue chip brand such as Super Valu, KBC Bank and Naked also looking to build their brand presence within this key target demographic. The event is also a reflection of our increasing desire for unique and memorable experiences and of our need to feel part of a community of like-minded people.

At PepTalk, this is a key part our philosophy when we work with organisations in designing employee wellbeing programmes. Community driven wellbeing is fun, accessible and can deliver great results for employees and a powerful return on investment for companies

James Brogan,CEO @ PepTalk

On Sunday at the WellTalk Tent the PepTalk Team tacked the timely and impactful topic of how to Power your world & the workplace through human connection.

Firstly why does human connection matter?

Or at least 'how much' does it matter?

As you know at PepTalk we are data nerds, we love to understand what the research, trends and science tells us. And the more you look at the impact of connection at work (and at home) the more profound you realise it is. So let’s dive into the data of what is going on in the world of work …

Gallup in their 2018 research paper on connection and engagement at work found that :

  • Highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability

  • Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work

  • Disengaged employees cost U.S. companies up to $550 billion a year

  • 89% of workers at companies that support well-being initiatives are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work

Interestingly a separate piece of Gallup research shows that currently only 2 out of 10 U.S. employees strongly agree to having a best friend at work. However, where employers implemented strategies to increase that ratio from 6 people in every 10, organisations could realise 36% fewer safety incidents, 7% more engaged customers and 12% higher profit.

So who is connection affecting ?

Scarily, a 2018 study by Cigna in of 20,000 American workers found :

  • Nearly half of workers report sometimes or always feeling alone (46%) or left out (47%).

  • One in four (27%) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.

  • Two in five sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43 percent) and that they are isolated from others (43%).

  • One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20 percent) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18%).

  • Only around half (53%) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.

  • Social media use alone is not a predictor of loneliness; respondents defined as very heavy users of social media have a loneliness score (43.5) that is not markedly different from the score of those who never use social media (41.7).

Whats happening in the C-Suite :

Furthermore we learned that connection is not something reserved for any particular cohort of organisations, demographic or geography. According to the Harvard Business Review, over half of CEOs express feelings of loneliness and a whopping 61% of which believe loneliness hinders their job performance.

The 5 key learnings from all this research are :

  1. Human beings have a fundament need for connection

  2. Workers at all levels are suffering from a lack of connection

  3. Human connection and engagement has a clear and demonstrated bottom line impact.

  4. The results of a lack of connection touch every part of organisations, including its product and customers negatively.

  5. Smart companies find ways to improve connection and they realise the benefits!

Performance & Connection :

From here we explored how the best performing teams in the world are connected teams, the PepTalk team explored how to create connection and in particular we focused in on how to have meaningful conversations. [Oh and if you are looking for some cracking ways to create connection, you can read our previous blog on it by clicking here]

Cathal shared some insights from Google on Project Aristotle – where Googlers studied 180 teams across their organisation at all levels and functions, in an attempt to find out ‘what elements or environments created the best performing teams’. While there were many really interesting learning there was one stand out element – that was ‘high performing teams’ have Psychological Safety.

Put simply Psychological Safety for these teams means that all team members feel the freedom to speak your mind, generate ideas etc without fear of judgement. That team members are able to give and receive open and honest feedback.

Bernard shared some wonderful insights around how the 4 time All-Ireland winning Dublin Footballers take time to focus on connection, and how they have opted to forgo time on the pitch to drive connection, as it is their belief that it gives them a competitive advantage.

Meaningful conversations

The Team spoke candidly about their personal experiences around meaningful conversations they have had that impacted/changed their sporting careers. They were also very frank bout times they either didn’t have the important conversations that were key or didn’t have them at the time they needed to happen, the impact they had on their careers.

There were some really nice learnings around how to create an environment to have meaningful conversations :

  • The ideal environment is one where people are open, vulnerable, have a shared understanding or are calibrated on their commen purpose or goal, where there is a consistency around feedback (its part of the culture, of how people work), that there is a consistent langauage people use around feedback and that people don’t take liberties with this environment i.e. that people are still mindful to use EQ, are tactful and respectful of others.

  • That while important, a learning environment isn’t everything – each of us still have to take action, we have to go and do it!

Interactive session on building connection - Emotional Labelling :

Finally in our last interactive element to the session we wanted to demonstrate how each of us could create just one element of psychological safety. We did this by asking each person in our tent to consider during the exercise the impact that opening yourself up to speaking and listening to others can have. And how connected you can feel to someone, even if you just met them.

We did an exercise called ‘Emotional Labelling’ (you can try this with your own team at work and see what you learn).

At the heart of this exercise we learned that :

  • Even though for each of us our personal experience of the emotion is individual

  • The emotion/experience itself is more global

  • When you label emotions, we can better relate and identify with each other, as we can put ourselves into the shoes of the others person. And as Cathal reminds us, it’s impossible to be cynical about the world when you are being empathetic.

How to carry out the exercise :

Ask participants to break into smaller groups and to label/state what was their (1) lowest emotion in last 4 weeks and why and (2) highest emotion in last 4 weeks and why.

Our learnings from this session (and many other similar sessions) :

  1. Peoples lowest emotions tend to revolve around work and lack of time

  2. Peoples highest emotions tend to rarely be about anything ‘xxxx like ‘I bought new watch or car’ generally they are about their friends, family and how connected they are!

Finally, Cathal shared with us some studies focused on how people achieve the highest stats of personal happiness. You will be heartened to learn, it is not achieved through purchases, financial gain or winning, but rather by doing something for someone else – yeap, you guessed it, by connectedness!

WellFest Reflections from the PepTeam

So, on that note the PepTalk team dived back into WellFest and spent the weekend connecting, here are a few of their musings on the weekend. We would love to hear your feedback on the event if you went, pop them in the comments below :

Aishling Jennings

Operations Overlord

To round out the week-end at WellFest I jumped into the #WellGood tent for some high energy tunes at Philly McMahon's Rave Games. I thought the combination of the national craze that is Bingo Loco and a cardio work-out was genius. For 30 minutes the tent was hopping with games, prizes, old-school tunes and the the smoke machine was on full blast! Really enjoyable fitness sesh with plenty craic - a banker for next year I would think!

Jenny Murphy

Head of Content Creation

My second year at WellFest, sans a leg brace so already a marked improvement on last year!

One of my highlights was a moment during our session in the WellTalk tent. Cathal (PepTalk Crew member) put the audience in some uncomfortable situations, asking them to put themselves out there a little more than they may have felt comfortable with. I jumped into a circle consisting of 5 people who didn't all know each other. These strangers opened up and shared genuine moments of both sadness and happiness from their lives over the last 4 weeks.

Pride, gratitude, jealousy, overwhelmed, satisfaction, and joy with each other. They let themselves be vulnerable with people they did not know, and it was just a lovely thing to witness.

Rosie Lennon

Purveyor of Client Happiness

The sun was shining and Craig (eager 8-year-old team member) and I were super excited to take ourselves off into WellFest to see what delights would unfold before us. We arrived, to be met by what can only be described as a Carnival for Adults....which did include lots of trapeze looking folk in lycra!

The buzz and enthusiasm surrounded every tent you passed, with lots of support and laughter to be heard - no need for any substances or alcohol here, these folks are high on life and adrenaline. After participating in the fantastic PepTalk session, one even the kids enjoyed (cause sure they love to be top of the list in the communication stats), we headed off to try out a bit of "mindfulness for kids" in the children's zone, followed by looking out over Dublin from the climbing wall (OK, I admit that was Craig, not me!).

The day was filled with happy folk like pigs in mud, enjoying each others company and finding inspiration in each other to Live Well (even if this did include a pizza cone demolished by a hungry 8-year-old). Will be there next year with bells on!!

Ailis McSweeney

Chief of Client Happiness

The line-up for the WellMind tent is always my first port of call when the schedule comes out.

This year one session that caught my eye was Georgie Browne’s “Engaging the Flow of Creativity”. I love mindfulness made practical and tapping into my creative side is something that takes work for me. The session didn’t disappoint. Everyone was invited to write down and share (if comfortable) an upcoming project or event that they wanted to focus on. Georgie’s style was both warm and confident, and the guided, meditative sections drew everyone in the tent together as we focused on potential blockers and ways to engage the creativity within. The mix was just magic!

Interested in attending WellFest next year?

You can sign up or check out all the deets <here on their website>

Let's make work better …

At PepTalk, engagement is at the heart of all our wellbeing platform. Our platform is about energy, passion and fun while being grounded in key business outcomes.

To find out more about this area and our wider PepTalk offering book a demonstration at or email

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