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June 24, 2021 Amelia Wilcox

What to Expect at an HR Brain Trust

This week, we held our first HR Leader Brain Trust event—and it was a blast!
Curious what a brain trust is and what’s in it for you? You’re in the right place. Bonus: you’ll get a sneak peek into some of the insights we gleaned during our session this June.

What is a Brain Trust?

A brain trust is a group of people with similar expertise coming together to solve common problems.

Brain trusts are a great way to grow your network, collaborate on challenges that are relevant to the entire group, and learn about how to solve the problems you are facing in your role right now.

At our HR Leader Brain Trust meetings, we focus on how to approach workplace mental health challenges as an HR leader. This June, our topic was “Starting an Employee Mental Health Program”.

June 23rd Brain Trust Screenshot

The meeting starts off with some networking and transitions into storytelling and problem-solving. Sometimes, attendees form “circles” to encourage small groups of people to connect more deeply.

Here is a sample agenda:

10 minutes – Introduction and connection principles

15 minutes – Impromptu Networking around peer generated HR topic

15 minutes – Story Breakout Rooms 

Each member of a four-person group will get 2 minutes to pick one of the story prompts and share it with the breakout group (four peers)

Share the most adventurous thing you have ever done


Share a story about the worst task you’ve ever had to do

5 minutes – Critical Questions Overview

After connecting, we will frame the next most crucial experience. Inner Circles.

25 minutes -Inner Circle Breakout Sessions

Each member of the group will get 7 minutes to share and collaborate on a challenge they are currently dealing with and would like some help and collaboration on.

This is the portion of the meeting that new relationships are forged, and existing relationships are deepened.

5 minutes -Main Session Wrap Up

What We Learned

Here are some key takeaways we got from our discussion on mental health programs at work.

1. To get buy-in it’s important that the leadership opens up a bit about mental health challenges, which will help employees open up.
2. Give employees permission to not be okay.
3. Give PTO for “Mental Health Days”.
4. Regularly reshare information about rolled-out programs to help employees remember that your company is providing support.
5. Help employees feel better connected to the broader organization.
6. Know your audience, which will help you determine how to present information.
7. Find the right tools that will help your employees connect.
8. Hold weekly standing meetings that are open for all employees to join, including DEI Managers or Licensed Therapists.
9. Bring on a therapist to teach managers to recognize signs of mental health struggles.
10. Tie your values back to healthy mental health thinking.
Still wondering what these brain trusts are actually like? Here is video of a breakout session we held after the main event, with HR leaders from all over America.

Interested in signing up for a Brain Trust event down the road? Just fill out this form and we’ll keep you in the loop!

Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement.

Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.

Recently listed as a Forty Under 40, Fast 50, Inc 5000 Twice awarded National Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002
Member of American Massage Therapy Association
Served on Utah Worksite Wellness Council from 2012-2015

Attended Utah College of Massage Therapy
Educated in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Utah

Massage Magazine (AMTA's publication)