Nelly Flieger expands the Feel-Good area at Spread Group to get staff moving in home office. Find out how the passionate yoga teacher used to print T-shirts in the university basement, and what mindfulness and health means in her daily (work) life.
Hi Nelly, we just have to ask the inevitable question – who are you?
Sure! I’m Nelly Flieger and 34 years old. Some may have heard that I’m the new Feel-Good Manager here at Spread Group. I am a true Leipziger, as I have spent most of my life in the south of Leipzig. I studied in Stuttgart, but I would call Hamburg my second home, as I lived and worked there for a good while.
Feel Good Manager sounds like an exciting position. Did you study to get on this career path?
Actually, I studied packaging technology in conjunction with printing technology. Then I worked in this field for several years, both for an agency and in a corporate group. Fun fact – during my studies, I already printed T-shirts myself in the university basement, trying out simple designs. Sounds like the right fit for Spread Group!
Absolutely! And we’ve heard that next to being a real yoga whizz-kid, you’re also a fitness coach and Ayurveda lifestyle coach. How did you get there?
When I was younger, I worked as a trainer for children and show dance, mainly in carnival clubs. I completed my classical aerobics training at an early age and worked in the gym. Sports and the joy of movement have always been more than a hobby for me. That’s why I went abroad after graduating to work in the fitness area of a hotel. I spent a year each in Spain and Turkey, and I’ve been a licensed Yoga and Pilates teacher since 2011. About 5 years ago, I started my own business to pursue this more, and I also became a trained Ayurveda Lifestyle Coach. Ayurveda is more than wellness or spicy Indian food, it’s also a holistic and health-conscious approach to life. And that’s what I want to incorporate into my role as Feel-Good Manager at Spread Group.
That’s quite a career! What makes your new role so exciting?
I had been flirting with Spread Group for quite a while, and I followed the development of the Feel-Good area. The family-like corporate culture, the colourful teams, the fun at work – that’s what stands out about Spread Group from the outside. I was convinced that as a Feel-Good Manager I would be able to combine my knowledge from the industry as well as the health world to set a new marker. Since opening my yoga studio, I’ve been pursuing the vision of caring for people to be healthier and happier. This vision continues to accompany me in my new role as a Feel-Good Manager.
Have your first weeks as a Feel-Good Manager met your expectations? What’s going on right now?
I received a very warm welcome, but my start was very different from what I had initially expected. Due to the current pandemic, my professional onboarding and getting to know my colleagues is taking place through my home office. But I see it as both an opportunity and a challenge to start remotely in my new position. During this turbulent time, the challenge is to transfer a selection of Feel-Good activities to the virtual world for the time being. In the first few weeks, I was able to get to know many of my colleagues online, and I got an impression of the current mood. I was happy to see that there is already a good Feel-Good vibe in the company. Now I’m working hard on maintaining the Feel-Good culture remotely. I need to listen a lot to come up with the right offers to keep our Spreadsters happy, while also strengthening the community spirit. This is the only way we can stay balanced and efficient.
Do you already have ideas of how to galvanize the community spirit?
Not only ideas! Along with the Human Resources team, I’ve launched the first activities and offers. These include virtual yoga, stretching, and conscious breathing breaks that take place almost every day during the week. I send reminders of these Feel-Good breaks to everyone through the company chat. But the chat is also about mindfulness and movement in everyday life. The idea is to counteract the strain that comes with sitting in home office, and to talk about the feelings around the lockdown. Then we have a virtual lunch lottery, where colleagues can get to know each other across teams and exchange ideas. Given the current challenges around home schooling and childcare from home, an offer for employees with children was also created. Our IT department helped provide notebooks for them. Then we created a colouring book for kids to provide a little insight into their parents’ working lives. Those of the children who feel like moving can take part in the weekly virtual kids’ disco and kids’ yoga with dolls and cuddly toys. And there will be more to come, stay tuned!
Speaking of kids, how would you explain to children what a Feel-Good Manager is?
That’s a nice question. I like to compare the role of a Feel-Good Manager to that of a loving mother of an extended family, keeping a watchful eye to make sure everyone’s doing well. She motivates and helps everyone to realize their potential, thereby knitting ties between all the members of the family aka the company. I think this metaphor explains it very nicely.
An apt comparison indeed! What makes a well-timed Feel-Good Management for you? What qualities should a Feel-Good Manager have?
Feel-Good Management is incredibly versatile. There are so many possibilities. But the important thing is that what’s on offer fits the needs of your staff, and that the focus is on the well-being of your colleagues – both physically and emotionally. Great Feel-Good Management has a strong sense of community, and it is a highly approachable part of corporate culture. At Spread Group, I immediately found out that a sound structure had been put in place very well.
What’s more, a Feel-Good Manager’s job is a very active and fast-moving one, and you should be very open-minded, flexible, and be a very good listener. Organizational skills are also vital. Apart from that, I think the following qualities are important: Communication, empathy, and being actively motivating.
How do you see the future of Feel-Good Management in companies and in society?
I am convinced that this area of business will become increasingly important, and also more in demand. Due to the unstoppable digitalisation and the noticeable increase in technology, the needs of people must take centre stage much more. After many decades of out-and-out technological progress, we’ve now entered a period of the “next new normal” due to the pandemic. Now, Feel-Good Management is an important tool for companies to get ahead of the competition in the labour market. The portfolio of offers in the area of Feel-Good will develop into a decisive criterion for generations to come. Feel-Good Management will become a corporate staple.
Another personal question! What do you do when you’re not doing gymnastics on the yoga mat?
I love being outside! That’s why I love Leipzig and its surroundings so much. The nature, the lake landscape! In fact, even before the Corona lockdown, I enjoyed going for walks and hikes. That’s not a Corona hobby (laughs)! Otherwise, I sing in the choir, currently also virtually, and brushed up my accordion and ukulele skills during the lockdown situation. And who knows, maybe Spread Group will soon be able to enjoy musical Feel-Good activities. We will see! Oh yeah, and I’m passionate about water sports. SUP yoga in the summer, surfing or sailing. And I’m still looking for a sailing partner!
Final question: Which slogan would you print on a T-shirt right away?
I don’t need to think long and hard. “Feeling tired? Breathe, enjoy, and smile!” That’s what my Spread Group colleagues will remember, even in my courses. You can get something good out of any situation! Don’t forget to breathe, and don’t let the stress get on top of you!
Thanks for the interview and the insight into your work, Nelly!