Habits: The Fundamental Driver of Human and Company Performance

I’m excited to be at the Summit that I know I’ll tell people about in future in this way: “I was there when this was getting started". I feel about the Love Summit, the way people who were at Woodstock must feel today. Something everyone wishes they had been at, and that gives bragging rights to you for the rest of your life! I’ll admit it, I’m anticipating this will be the highlight of my year! – Andrew Sykes, President, Habits at Work

As a former reinsurance actuary in South Africa, Andrew Sykes co-founded and built what became one the largest health insurance and actuarial consultancies in the country. He has since moved on to found Behavioral Research Applied Technology Laboratory (BRATLAB), where he and his researchers uncover the habits that create health, happiness, security and performance for people. His employer-focused consulting team, Habits at Work, literally puts habit creation to work to create high-performance organizations that flourish through the success of their people, rather than their expense.

Andrew will be the opening speaker at the Love Summit 2017, and will lead the experiential workshop, "How to Design Love Habits Into Your Business", with Habits at Work's head research psychologist, Hanlie Van Wyk. Don’t miss out on the incredible opportunity to work with and learn from Andrew in real-time, and be sure to check out his pre-Love Summit Q&A below.

Andrew, tell us about your former career as a full-time actuary.

I started as a reinsurance actuary in South Africa, but soon thereafter co-founded and built what became one the largest health insurance and actuarial consultancies in that country. The truth is, building a business meant that I didn’t personally do much of the actuarial work, so I joke that I’m a recovering actuary and that we hire “real actuaries” in our company that do that hard work. Actuarial training is such an advantage because of the unique way of thinking about things that you acquire. But one of my first clients taught me that no matter what you think, or how smart your solutions might be, what really matters is being understood and being able to communicate with passion and compassion.

What drove you to make a career change and found Habits at Work?

I was frustrated that all our work to improve peoples’ health insurance was not making one difference to their actual health. I decided to “join the other side” and build a business committed to understanding which habits REALLY matter to human health and performance, in life and at work. We then discovered the hard problem is how to design the world of work to make it easy and natural for people to practice those habits. Work, or the way it is designed today, was part of the problem, if not the core problem. Our research lab BRATLAB has spent the last decade understanding what a healthy, performance workplace and culture looks like and those insights fuel all our work today.

How does Habits at Work help business leaders address employee well-being, engagement and performance?

We help them to see that health habits are a fundamental driver of human and company performance and to quantify the impact that they can have if a company chooses to invest. A healthy team is a difficult-to-copy competitive advantage for any company. We then help leaders to “take back” the design of their business (the physical space, the business processes, the culture and the way they tell stories to employees). They become very deliberate about their culture, and learn how to “design-in” healthy habits as a part of the work, not apart from it. We help them learn the many influence methods that make it all feel easy for employees to leave each day, not only having been productive, but healthier than when they arrived that morning.

What are you most looking forward to at the Love Summit 2017?

I’m looking forward to learning and growing by listening to the speakers, of course. But I know I will also be watching them be as examples of love in action; by how they are being to each other and to the audience. As Maya Angelou said (with my own edits) “People might forget what (the speakers) say, they might forget what they did, but they will never forget the way they made us feel.” More than that, I’m excited to be at the Summit that I know I’ll tell people about in future in this way: “I was there when this was getting started” (I’ll neglect to say I missed the very first ones). I feel about the Love Summit, the way people who were at Woodstock must feel today. Something everyone wishes they had been at, and that gives bragging rights to you for the rest of your life! I’ll admit it, I’m anticipating this will be the highlight of my year!

#LoveSummit2017 business & leadership conference tickets available at lovesummit2017.eventbrite.com.

Andrew Sykes, President of Habits at Work, holds over 20 years of leadership, organizational performance and business development experience. He has consulted to some of the world’s largest companies, including Shell Oil, McDonald’s, Nokia, British Aerospace, Unilever, Blue Cross Blue Shield and many others.

Although his consulting experience is the source for many of his insights, Andrew’s real passion is public speaking. Andrew is an innovator and disruptor who has spoken about organizational performance at over 500 public and private events. He brings new and challenging perspectives to the topics he discusses, honed by his experience working around the world, and from the practical application of his solutions in his consulting work.

Wherever and whatever he speaks, his goal is to leave his audience feeling moved and inspired to join him in his personal mission to make the world a more productive place. As a result, his presentations are passionate, lively and entertaining and will challenge your views on the way the world works.

Andrew is adamant about helping companies to flourish through the success of their people, rather than their expense, and is eager to share his expertise with other thought leaders in all industries.

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