Registered Clinical Psychologist
MSc(Hons), PGDipClinPsyc, MNZCCP
Umbrella founder Gaynor Parkin can list many reasons smart employers actively build mental wellbeing, but there’s one that’s easily the most important to her – it’s simply the right thing to do.
“Employers have a duty of care to protect their team’s mental wellbeing under health and safety in the workplace legislation, however, investing in mental health and wellbeing has many benefits beyond that,” she says.
A psychologist with nearly three decades’ experience in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom, Gaynor has witnessed those business benefits in the organisations she’s worked with – observations backed up by multiple research studies.
“Businesses that build a mentally healthy workplace and support the mental wellbeing of their people enjoy lower absenteeism, and much higher engagement and satisfaction rates. There’s also more collaboration and higher retention. All that translates into higher productivity.”
Gaynor is dedicated to helping New Zealand businesses enjoy those benefits. Twelve years ago, she published her book, I’ve had it up to here: From stress to strength, detailing how to handle work stress and build resilience.
In doing so, Gaynor was one of the first clinical psychologists to focus on mental wellbeing and how it affected productivity, both in our private and work lives. The positive uptake from businesses and the media was evidence she’d tapped into an area New Zealanders were eager to learn more about.
In response, in 2010, Gaynor set up Umbrella to offer organisations research- and practice-based tools and approaches to increase and support the mental wellbeing of their people through one-to-one coaching and group workshops.
“Like our name, Umbrella is about applying the scaffolding – the knowledge, tools and strategies – that keep people safe and protected, helping them stay well and thrive in their roles.
“I’d love to see all workplaces consider wellbeing as something they do every day; not as a ‘nice to have’, or to pull out just when things get difficult. I’d love to see wellbeing practices integrated into business strategies and regarded as important as all the other success metrics.
“That’s how you build positive mental wellbeing. It’s not about catching team members when they slip.”
Now having worked with several hundreds of organisations across the private and public sectors, Gaynor is as motivated and impassioned about partnering with workplaces as ever. Known for her innovation, Gaynor specialises in finding specific solutions tailored to a workplace’s circumstances, culture and goals.
As well as working closely with senior leadership teams to devise and apply those solutions, she dedicates time to studying and contributing to the growing wealth of wellbeing research and literature.
Like the rest of the Umbrella team, Gaynor’s focus is on ensuring Umbrella’s programmes and practices are world-leading while remaining practical in the real world.
“There’s a huge depth of knowledge out there taken from scientific research about the strength and benefits of positive wellbeing. Part of our job is to make that easily understood so people and businesses can benefit from that knowledge. Then we help them use it.”
“Gaynor is committed to working alongside us, partnering with us to create solutions tailored to our organisation, using Umbrella’s expertise and flexing its content to achieve the outcomes we need. She does that in an immensely approachable, non-judgemental, pragmatic and entirely intentional way. Gaynor is absolutely intent on supporting us on our wellbeing journey.” – NZTE
“Gaynor, your delivery was intuitive and I thoroughly enjoyed your responsiveness to the ideas presented by our team members. Umbrella’s content is intelligently constructed and thought provoking both on a personal level and for managing my team.”
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