Meet the woman fighting to make your office a happier place
Imagery: Sarah Fritz // @the.yesqueen
Have you ever worked somewhere that made you start to feel anxious from about 4pm on Sunday afternoon? Somewhere you were told “a thousand people would kill to have your job”, so you continued to do more for less? Have you ever been subjected to or witnessed workplace bullying? If you answered yes to any – or all – of these questions, sadly, you’re not alone.
This is the story of Sarah Fritz – a woman who, once up on a time, also answered “yes” to these questions. But rather than stick around and endure a toxic culture, she decided to do did something about it.
After 18 years working in media (and being both a witness and a victim of bullying) she decided to step away from the corporate world and change her life. Sarah and her husband Mike created a new business devoted to improving culture in workplaces and helping educate employees and employers on how to manage and prevent bullying.
That business was The Yes Queen, an initiative with a mission she describes as “leading a kindness revolution and future-proofing wellbeing at work”. Alongside her Yes Queen ambassadors, Sarah is changing workplace culture and creating safe spaces where empathy and compassion are queen. Here, she shares her own Wayward story, of leaving the media world behind and why she wants to change the way we think about work.
How and why did you decide to step away from your career in media?
“Between us, my husband Mike and I had clocked 22 years in the publishing, media and creative space. At the time we were both extremely passionate and committed to our careers, with a long-term view of flourishing inside the walls of the corporate world. But we also led a parallel life that was dedicated to spirituality – both committing to self-development, mindfulness practices and diving deeper into our passion and purpose. There was a moment when these worlds collided and we had the ‘light bulb’ realisation that we could do what we loved – but for ourselves. That was building a culture from the ground up that was more in line to our personal ethos and work expectations.
AT THE SAME TIME YOU ALSO DECIDED TO PACK UP YOUR LIVES AND BECOME FULL TIME DIGITAL NOMADS, WHY THE CHANGE?
“The digital nomad part was an add-on to our plans. Mike had read an article about this tech movement and came home so excited to tell me about the prospect of working from our laptops, anywhere in the world. As an avid traveller, I was an instant yes and three months later we were on a plane to Bali with 20kg each and a remote office that packs into a small backpack.”
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR yes queen?
“Upon reflecting on almost two decades in the workplace I realised there was an element of bullying or toxic behaviour in every place, either overt or covert, and as a person who is fiercely passionate about people and culture I decided to do something about it. It was out in the Otway Ranges, off the grid, that I had this epiphany; to use my skills to be the change I wanted to see. Passionate about seeing a change in industry, Mike came on board as my business partner and has been the creative wizard behind our branding and business assets.
After extensive research I knew Yes Queen was the first of its kind in the anti-bullying space – we are a peer-to-peer platform, a community from diverse backgrounds and from the entire spectrum of roles and responsibilities sharing experiences, skills and expertise to future-proof wellness at work. Whilst our aim is to end workplace bullying our mission is anchored in wellness and self-development, with a holistic focus on the brain, body and spirit – we believe this approach will to prevent these behaviours and environments, something that is also unique to our project.”
There are lots of different aspects to Yes queen, can you describe the different programs and how they work?
“The most important resource we have at this stage is the ‘YQ werk-kit’. This is a ready to implement zip file full of insights and tools a business can use to take crucial steps towards a zero-tolerance stance to workplace bullying. Since October 2018 we’ve had 16 businesses execute the project to become a ‘Yes Queen Approved’ business.
Yes Queen is a people-powered initiative. Since launch, November 2017, we have garnered the support of 80 Ambassadors who believe in the revolution of kindness. The YQ Ambassadors have an active role in furthering our mission by sharing our project and content on their own social channels and encouraging their work teams and businesses to join us.
From inception, we knew we wanted to provide our audience with tangible ways to integrate wellness in and out of 9-5. The Pink Pages is our online directory, a list of empowerment, self love and self-care services, products and rituals that have been tried, tested and trusted by the YQ Community.”
What’S THE LONG-TERM DREAM FOR yes Queen?
“Our long-term goal is to help 500,000+ employees be their most fearless selves in the workplace. In the near future we will be executing events, experiences and workshops with goals to update HR policies and to form part of the curriculum at universities.”