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Q&A: Gijs Coppens, OpenUp Founder & Healthcare Psychologist

OpenUp supports companies, employees, and employees’ families with their mental well-being. Can you tell us a bit about your background? After qualifying as an engineer from… View Article


Q&A: Gijs Coppens, OpenUp Founder & Healthcare Psychologist

OpenUp supports companies, employees, and employees’ families with their mental well-being.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

After qualifying as an engineer from TU Delft, I founded an innovative lightbulb company in Asia. During this period, I observed an intriguing gap: many leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals seemingly lacked a solid grasp of psychology; often resulting in workplace friction. From here, I became more curious to understand the human mind and its role in our professional lives. I felt a pull to return home to The Netherlands, to delve deeper into psychology.

Immersing myself in Clinical Psychology at Tilburg, I emerged with a newfound perspective and purpose. When I became a clinical psychologist, I began to see a pattern: so many of my clients’ challenges could have been avoided with preventative care. This was a lightbulb moment – what if we could lighten the load on our overloaded healthcare systems and transform lives, simply by making preventative psychological care readily available?

That thought planted the seed for OpenUp, born out of a vision to remove barriers that prevent access to professional psychological consultations. Coincidentally, the pandemic struck in 2020, making us more reliant on digital solutions. This served as a catalyst, propelling OpenUp forward.

Today, OpenUp offers the support and guidance of  professional psychologists to over 300,000 individuals across 1,100 organisations throughout Europe. In essence, our journey has just begun, and I am immensely motivated to push the boundaries further to make mental well-being an attainable goal for everyone.

What does your company do? What is your USP?

At OpenUp, we support companies, employees, and employees’ families with their mental well-being. Our platform features 1:1 sessions, direct access to well-being checks, self-guided care, group sessions and webinars, and mindfulness training – curated by our team of certified psychologists. Quality is our priority, so our team works hard to make our platform completely seamless and 100% safe. Our psychologists also undergo rigorous training to work at OpenUp.   

What’s special about the platform and your approach?

We take a preventative, proactive approach to mental well-being, which includes goal-oriented, solution-focused sessions As a result, our users can continuously work on  strengthening their resilience to help deal with  well-being challenges and find proactive, sustainable solutions. 

What does a product implementation look like and how do you measure success?

Because we offer low barrier entry to mental well-being support, rolling out OpenUp to your organisation is seamless. As soon as the contract is signed, employees can access our platform and book 1:1 sessions and/or start their own self-learning journey. There’s no HR approval needed; all employees can explore the platform anonymously without restrictions.

Initially, we provide HR with the necessary onboarding tools and guidelines via our HR Resource Hub. Our help extends throughout the partnership; our customer success team provides resources to help HR and people teams keep OpenUp front-of-mind.

At OpenUp, we believe that success is individual to each organisation. Therefore, we discuss each organisation’s individual goals, and how OpenUp can contribute to the success of their wider well-being strategy.

Our partners receive monthly reports with anonymised data and insights into OpenUp usage. We also explore supporting data such as staff turnover and absenteeism rates. We encourage our partners to conduct employee surveys to collect qualitative data about  how OpenUp is working for employees, and whether more action needs to be taken to increase usage. 

How are retailers using OpenUp to gain a competitive advantage and what does best practice look like? Can you share a case study with us?

With employee mental well-being support more critical than ever, our retail partners are using OpenUp to focus on better serving their people’s needs. With our platform, retailers are investing in their employees’ well-being, leading to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and better staff retention, creating a more robust workforce. In fact, Noelle Brouwer, HR Manager at Decathlon, has said that since launching in 2021, OpenUp has contributed to a significant  reduction in their absenteeism and employee turnover rates, which were growing steadily before2021.

We also partnered with Ace & Tate back in 2020 – a retail business with a significant young and international workforce. They recognised their employees’ increasing mental well-being challenges, especially during COVID-19, and wanted to provide employees with better support and care. Ace & Tate chose OpenUp because of its accessibility, diverse language availability, and anonymity.

Preventing employee burnout, increasing resilience, and providing immediate support were top level priorities for the company, particularly given retail’s fast-paced environment. Ace & Tate is still a client in 2023, with many employees providing positive feedback and usage rates; clearly displaying ease of use and willingness to use our platform.

Are there other companies you partner with?

Absolutely – we work closely with a number of retailers, including Decathlon, Asics, Karl Lagerfeld, AJAX and Rituals. We also partner with many businesses in sectors such as  hospitality and leisure – and in total, we’re currently supporting over 1500 organisations, which is around 400,000 employees globally!

What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2023 / What challenges are retailers facing in 2023? 

The pandemic served as a wake-up call, making us pause and reassess our priorities. Mental well-being is a major priority for retail going forward. It influences every aspect of our lives – our interpersonal relationships, sleep patterns, lifestyle choices, self-confidence, and work performance.

In 2022, 83% of retail employees reported experiencing  a deterioration in their mental health, so now’s the time for retail businesses to understand the urgency for mental well-being solutions.  It’s clear that the cost of burnout and absenteeism far outweigh the cost  of preventive measures. Today, more organisations are placing employee well-being at the top of their HR priorities. As we navigate the evolving retail business landscape,  mental well-being’s importance is emerging stronger than ever.

When implemented successfully, well-being strategies not only support staff, but also improve employer brand and value proposition. 

How will you address mental well-being challenges and find solutions?

OpenUp is designed to help employees  tackle mental well-being challenges preemptively. Our aim is to grow resilience in people; striking a  healthy balance between work duties and mental wellness. The strategy? We employ positive psychology, arming individuals with the tools they need to find harmony between their professional and personal selves.

Empowerment is central to our approach. Employees gain valuable mental well-being strategies in just a few sessions with our experienced psychologists.

On an organisational level, we work closely with our clients, especiallyHR teams, to  cultivate a work culture that places mental well-being at the forefront.

In essence, OpenUp is not just about providing support; it’s about reshaping how we perceive and handle mental well-being in the workspace. Well-being needs to become an integral part of organisational strategy in the long run. Today, creating sustainable well-being support for retail employees is attainable; whether they’re on the shop floor, in the warehouse or at the head office. At OpenUp, we’re here to support you in making these changes possible.

What is on the horizon for OpenUp?

We have a unique opportunity to impact the lives of millions, starting by becoming the European market leader. Our initial focus centred on startups, scale-ups, and early adopters, but today, traditional industries and large-scale  organisations are becoming more open to offering their employees well-being solutions like ours.

Today, our horizons continue to broaden.We are exploring serving additional languages, and entering new markets to become  more accessible to diverse populations. We also have an ambitious product roadmap in the works, which includes launching an  app  to make our platform more accessible for users.

We’re committed to challenging the status quo of mental well-being support systems. We believe in evolving and innovating continuously to provide the best possible mental well-being support.Going forward,, we are fuelled by our passion to make mental well-being a universally accessible right, not a privilege.

OpenUp works across UK & Europe so to find out how OpenUp can help your retail operation, visit their website or connect here.



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