In June of 2014, Jane Lawes stood up in a London office meeting and broached a subject that hadn’t been talked about much in the consulting profession: stress. Stress as a force in people’s work lives which can degrade their performance and overall wellbeing. It was the start of an important conversation which would eventually inspire partners to come forward to share their stories.
Bain had already been offering some wellbeing resources, but Jane felt the resources did not provide sufficient coverage for mental wellness. “Thanks to a supportive boss I took the initiative to get trained to become a counselor for our office,” says Jane. “Before that role, I was a coach and part of the personal development team, and before joining Bain, was in consulting. I was embarking upon a third career doing something I very much believed in.” The London office already had doctors, nutritionists, and plenty of resources, but Jane was convinced people would also want to learn about mental health and managing stress.
In just a few counseling sessions, Jane knew she was onto something. People needed it, and the demand was greater than expected. Meanwhile, in other offices, other Bainies were coming to a similar conclusion: Bain should be leading on wellbeing, and that work should start within.
As Jane advanced the wellbeing conversation in London, other regional offices looked into using what her office was developing. Under the leadership of then Talent Director Richard Carr and Associate Partner Mariana Ulacia, Bain's EMEA offices launched EMEA B.E.S.T., which stood for “Balanced. Energized. Successful. Team.” It borrowed from Jane’s content and lessons, including what she'd discovered in teaching employees to talk about “personal capacity.” Then, at the height of that collaboration, Covid-19 hit.
Suddenly, the concept of wellbeing was a global priority. Thanks to the B.E.S.T. team’s advocacy, Bain launched a consulting case team to determine Bain’s global position on the subject. Jane and the team recommended one umbrella of services, to standardize the wellbeing offerings across offices, and to get counseling into more offices that needed it. Out of this, Global B.E.S.T. was born.
What wellness resources did employees most need?
What impact would it have on Bain’s business?
What was the most effective way to offer them?
Would other offices want to participate?
How to create a baseline for all offices, but allow for local innovation?
Who would manage the program?
The pandemic illuminated the importance of mental health and gave the B.E.S.T. team a mandate to formulate a charter to help all of Bain:
Out-team: Because healthy, inspired employees are more productive, deliver better results to clients, and collaborate more effectively.
Out-innovate: Make Bain a leader in offering wellbeing, to empower existing talent, and to attract new and more diverse talent.
Out-grow: By allowing people to integrate wellbeing into their professional lives, the company could retain more knowledgeable and talented people.
The London experience laid the foundation for the region and then the globe, with the understanding that there’s no one-size-fits-all B.E.S.T. approach. In each office, B.E.S.T. would establish the program and allow that office to tailor it. It has led to a suite of globally accessible wellbeing offerings, a champion network, and a dedicated team which aims to enable every Bainie to “live with vitality and fulfillment and foster a wellbeing culture” that has a positive impact on Bain’s clients and teams. And now, B.E.S.T. is embedded in Bain’s operating principles, including the phrase, “A Bainie never lets another Bainie fail.”
“When I read the testimonials from Bainies positively impacted by B.E.S.T., I get goosebumps,” says Vanessa William, Global Director of B.E.S.T. “I think to myself, ‘This is why we do the job.’”
B.E.S.T. is alive and evolving. It has started a conversation around wellbeing and given everyone a language for talking about it, with terms like “stretch” and “personal capacity.” It has consolidated the company’s approach into pillars that provide a wellness baseline for all Bainies around the globe. Now, B.E.S.T. is embedded within major milestones in each person’s career journey, providing self-guided learning, training, and coaching. And in 2023, Bain won the Best Employers: Excellence in Health & Well-being Award from Business Group on Health. The B.E.S.T. team is growing, and this is only just the start.