21st October 2021
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2021 Summit Highlights

The global pandemic has propelled employee mental health and wellbeing to the top of business agendas. Now let’s keep it there. 

“If you care about the mental health and wellbeing of your people and you care about the future of your business, join us – in-person - for our fourth annual Summit”.

Claire Farrow, Partner & Global Head of Content, Make A Difference Media.

MAD World stands for Make A Difference. Now in its fourth year, the MAD World Summit has become the global go-to solutions-focused conference and exhibition dedicated to turning talk into action; creating cultures of care and embedding mental health and wellbeing as a strategic business priority.


Whether you’re just getting started, or you’re looking for ways to build on and bolster your mental, physical, financial or social wellbeing programmes, it’s a day packed with insight, inspiration and the chance to find the answers to your questions with: 

  • 4 tracks of case studies and panel discussions
  • 25 roundtables and 10 workshops.
  • 3 keynote panels
  • 40 suppliers of work culture, mental health and wellbeing solutions under one roof

Key topics we’ll be addressing include:

  • Why workplace mental health and wellbeing matters more than ever and what employers can do about it
  • Dealing with Long-COVID and post-pandemic PTSD
  • Realistic strategies for meeting the increasing demand for a personalised approach to wellbeing support
  • Proactive, preventative workplace wellbeing programmes
  • Equipping managers with the skills to support wellbeing in the new hybrid world of work
  • Supporting the wellbeing of neurodiverse colleagues
  • Data driven wellbeing – why measurement matters
  • Seamlessly integrating wellbeing with diversity and inclusion
  • TechTalking: finding the right digital mental health and wellbeing solution for your organisation
  • Making the most of peer-to-peer networks
  • Engaging the hard to reach with mental health and wellbeing programmes
  • Best practice in financial wellbeing

Find out more here.

We'll Be Sharing


Meet the people developing the most progressive approaches to workplace culture,mental health and wellbeing


Share knowledge in real-time with our cross-sector, cross-function network of like-minded speakers, exhibitors and attendees.


Tell your colleagues and book a group pass. Get practical insights to take back and adapt to your organisation.

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Latest Mad World News

Mental health. Wellbeing. Gardener Trimming Plants. Topiary Work. Passion For Plants Concept Photo.

A Mental health garden at Chelsea Flower Show? What does that have to do with wellbeing at work, you ask?

The charity Mind is hosting a garden on Main Avenue at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May 2022 to encourage important conversations about how the outdoors and gardening can help mental health.

It will be funded by Project Giving Back and designed by eight-time RHS Chelsea gold medal winner, Andy Sturgeon.

Is Gardening Good For Wellbeing?

Mind’s research reveals that two in three adults say their mental health has worsened since the first national lockdown.

More positively, the research shows that spending time outdoors is the most popular way to cope.

Three-quarters (75%) of adults and young people have coped with lockdown by going outside, highlighting the clear synergy between mental health and spending time in nature.

Sturgeon says: “I chose to design a garden for Mind because time in nature can transform how you feel.

“It’s a very tactile space. On a deep emotional level, gardens make people happy.

“They make people relax and you can see people behave differently when they are in that environment.

“In the Mind Garden, I want people to feel embraced by the garden. I want people to feel protected when they are in it.”

For employers, encouraging more time outdoors for those in and out of the office could help with their wellbeing at work.

What Does The UK Say About Gardening And Mental Health?

In the lead-up to his garden design, Sturgeon met with Mind volunteers who shared their experiences of mental health problems and how opening up to others, gardening and the outdoors has helped them.

One volunteer, Faris Khalifa, says: “My depression and PTSD can be debilitating and I can often have strong suicidal tendencies.

“I can get stuck in my own head and need someone to speak to and just knowing I have that support and knowing that I’m loved is enough and helps.

“Gardening helped my mental health unexpectedly. I was going through a bad time and didn’t care for my mini bonsai tree.

“All the leaves fell off and it appeared to be dead. I felt really guilty. I still had some hope for it, so I gave it some water.

“Three days later, a new bright green leaf appeared, and I was overjoyed. The simple process of caring for a living thing makes you feel responsible for its wellbeing.

“So even if I’m having a terrible week, I get myself out of bed and water those plants.

“Before I know it, I see the life in them and how the sun dances between their leaves and I feel glad I’m alive.”

What Is Project Giving Back?

Project Giving Back (PGB) is a unique grant-making scheme that provides funding for gardens for good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

PGB was launched in May 2021 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on UK charitable fundraising.

It will fund gardens inspired by a range of good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2022, 2023 and 2024.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, says of the garden: “We’re incredibly grateful to Project Giving Back and to Andy Sturgeon for giving Mind the chance to create a garden at the iconic RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022.

“This is a unique and special opportunity to tell Mind’s story, which has come at a crucial time given the challenges so many of us have faced over the last couple of years.”

Sturgeon’s design is a circular seating area is set within curved clay rendered walls. It will be a place to sit side-by-side and share experiences and advice. It will be surrounded by meadow-like spaces and calming birch trees.

A gravel path then arcs down to a lower level, bringing people together before the garden opens out before them.

The Mind Garden will relocate once the show is over to a local Mind so that conversations can continue for many years to come.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider reading “Toxic masculinity” is stopping boys seeking mental health support, Mental health is a reason over a third of legal professionals want to quit or Use wellbeing and health support to give staff January reboot to learn more about how to improve wellbeing in the workplace.

Mental Health Charity Mind To Host Garden At RHS Chelsea Flower Show

According to the UK Health Security Agency, at the beginning of this month the R rate* in England increased and was estimated to be between 1.2.to 1.5 and as we saw, the new Omicron variant spread extremely rapidly.

Why start an article with such stark figures? I have a feeling that by the time this is published, the context within Covid-19 will have undoubtedly shifted again. We simply don’t know what’s coming next and we’re living day by day with new variants, policies and a constant adaptation to new and suggested ways of working.

Our findings

We’ve seen a broad variety of choices of new ways of working amongst our clients; some are still travelling into the office a few days a week whilst others are entirely closed. A handful of companies are considering re-opening their offices, but there’s no unified approach or answer to the pandemic and how could there be?

Companies are trying to do their best by their employees – factoring in employee safety whilst simultaneously trying to support their mental health and wellbeing. This of course includes addressing staff isolation, stress, energy, productivity levels whilst keeping an eye on staff retention, motivation and inclusivity.

Each company that we work with is trying to rebuild to the current context, on a case by case basis and dependent on employee and company needs. One question that arises continuously is where does a company’s responsibility begin and end when it comes to employee mental health and wellbeing?


With responsibility in mind – what is a ‘good’ way to rebuild community in the ‘workplace’ whilst we weather the pandemic? It’s quite apparent that organisation leaders who are tasked with this conundrum are currently trying to do this with empathy – whilst keeping an eye on the business needs, as well as their own personal needs. We are all collectively feeling this, so how does an individual utilise this skill and ability when tasked with a rebuild into the unknown?

What’s in place

There’s a lot to be applauded on just how far corporations have come over the last five years. Initiatives and strategies were already in place pre-pandemic e.g. EAP (Employee Assistance Programs), Mental Health First Aiders (with sound support structures for the MHFAs), on site therapists and career coaches. Additionally many well thought through wellbeing strategies, but how do we truly nurture a working community in a pandemic?

One size fits all solutions are never the target and are just not possible for all the above reasons, however we’ve seen some great supportive ideas implemented already: 

Wellbeing check-ins

Working with a trained, qualified and experienced therapist, some companies have been offering optional wellbeing check-ins for members of staff, for the employee and therapist to collectively determine if they need further support in the form of 1-2-1 counselling or psychotherapy. Those companies that have offered this have seen a good uptake and know their staff who opt-in is being supported through these challenging times.


Based on overall company themes and challenges, a variety of workshops are useful that offer both discussion and takeaways for each employee to add to their very own toolkit whilst reconnecting with colleagues’ post event. If the temperature of the team has been gauged well through questionnaires and check-ins, we have seen very well received workshops, where employees then step forward to further their own journey with the expert if possible.

Our practitioner ideas

Based on what our practitioners have experienced, here are some suggestions to think about:

Dr. Bunmi Aboaba – Food Addiction Coach

It’s important to reduce any unnecessary stress around changing working patterns with foods that help to reduce anxiety and increase mental wealth, focus and productivity

David Rogers – HR Director

There are a number of hidden matters, as well as more obvious ones, connected with a hybrid working environment, one of which is the disruption of empathic relationships.

Voice tone, gesture, recognition of shared experiences etc are significant contributors to the interpersonal dynamic in a work situation. These modes of communication will be lost or, at best, diluted when not all members of a team are physically present. The weakening of these links is an inevitable risk to the maintenance of a fully effective community, and, in order to mitigate potential damage, it’s important to identify which individuals are most likely to suffer in performance and stability terms

Such strategies can help, but place a significant time burden and will, in any event, not work in all circumstances. Thus, a more considered approach is required. Some individuals will cope with the sometimes-lonely situation of working remotely better than others, and it will be necessary to employ a more targeted approach to identify those who are struggling

Mental Health Foundation in the Pandemic study

The Mental Health Foundation is leading a study of how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting mental health of people across the United Kingdom in their latest findings* they highlight that ‘amongst all those who are fairly or very anxious about unlocking, nearly three quarters (72%) said they were worried about being amongst crowds’

*Source: Wave 11: 18th June – 2nd July 2021: Total sample size in June-July 2021 was 4,004 UK adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).


With regular, anonymised company ‘temperature checks’, mindful of individual and business needs, an alternative community can be nurtured with careful thought presenting a learning process, in the process. Hope, care and empathy need to be a priority from business leaders and adaptable plans made using employee feedback.

To be able to build a community in a hybrid way of working, the message needs to come from the top down – whilst we try and navigate our corporation through the pandemic and put measures in place to keep the company thriving, we need to be listening to the overall challenges of those that work for us.

The Mental Health Foundation survey notes that ‘the level of hopefulness in the general population is rising, with a quarter of those surveyed (25%) saying they feel hopefully in June / July 2021, compared to only 14% in March 2020’

Being adaptive, collaborative, agile, flexible and able to sit with trouble are vital skills for uncertainty. If attitudinally ‘hope’ is an important part of a survey, businesses need to work alongside mental health experts and use their corporate insider knowledge and cultivate this, so each employee feels part of something bigger, a new community if you will and feel heard along the way.

*R is the number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to, on average. 

About the authors:

Francesca Rogers & Katy Holliday are the founders of GetZeN. Www.get-zen.io is a unique mental health & wellbeing platform, offering preventative, measurable and strategic solutions for business health.

Francesca is a psychotherapist, psychotherapeutic supervisor, coach, EFT practitioner and assessor and spent 20 years working in the Advertising Industry.  

Katy is a reiki master and group meditation practitioner and spent 20 years in senior commercial roles managing and developing teams across TV, Digital & Ad-Tech.


Rebuilding Community In The New Hybrid World Of Work And How This Links To Supporting Wellbeing

The Great Resignation. COVID-19. Hybrid. Today’s managers and leaders face the perfect storm of headwinds – and two years on from the start of the pandemic, they’re running on empty.

The risks facing our workforces as a result of these headwinds are immense: problems like absenteeism, presenteeism, burnout and mental ill health are estimated to cost employers an average of £42bn per year.

And culture trickles down from the top, so if our leaders are stressed and facing burnout, the cultural and commercial impact for our entire workforce could be severe.

Worryingly, our responses to these challenges still remain far too reactive. We are fanning the flames, rather than removing the fuel.

At Fika Mental Fitness, we advocate a different approach: proactive, preventative mental fitness training.

We wouldn’t take on physical challenges like a marathon or obstacle course without any training – so why expect our leaders to navigate the perfect storm of headwinds they’re facing without training?

That’s where Mental Fitness training comes in

Fika Mental Fitness offers proactive, preventative training to help your people manage the challenges they’ll face at work – building their positivity, confidence, focus, motivation, and ability to make connections, handle stress and find meaning in life.

At Fika, we advocate fiercely for prevention before cure. Reactive initiatives like mental health awareness training and courses in dealing with stress and anxiety can only do so much.

However helpful these initiatives might be in supporting individuals who are struggling or in crisis, they can’t prevent mental health decline, nor can they completely offset the costs of mental ill health at work (from cultural and financial costs, to costs in human capital). The return on investment with effective preventative training is much higher.

And it’s important to note Mental Fitness training doesn’t just prevent mental health decline. It sets our teams up for success, improving productivity, engagement and staff retention – with potential to transform workplace culture and commercial results.

Making Mental Fitness role models of your leaders

Putting our own oxygen mask on before helping others is as important as ever when it comes to mental fitness.

Leaders often feel they ought to put their teams first – but in order to protect their colleagues, leaders actually need training in how to proactively build and protect their own mental fitness first and foremost.

By creating mentally fit leaders – motivated individuals with a growth mindset – we create space for mentally fit teams and mentally fit organisations. Seeing leaders visibly putting their own mental fitness training first creates a culture where others are empowered to do the same.

Mental Fitness training for leaders

Fika offers evidence-based courses in looking after yourself as a leader, learning to lead, and how to model positive behaviours as a leader. Led by expert psychologists, and featuring tips and techniques from peers, these courses can be easily embedded into the working day through five-minute bitesize exercises.

At Fika, we customise these courses to fit your company culture and integrate them seamlessly into your employees’ day-to-day work lives – both through digital and in-the-flesh activations.

How to model mental fitness at work – from our experts at Fika Mental Fitness

Ahead of The Watercooler in February, we wanted to share some evidence-based tips and techniques in how to model positive mental fitness behaviours as a leader – the first step to driving lasting cultural and behavioural change across your organisation:

>> Share your gratitude

There are many benefits associated with taking time each week to reflect on the things that you’re grateful for – increased happiness, improved sleep and reduced stress to name a few.

But as a leader you can bring the benefits of this practice to your teams by starting each meeting by thanking one team member for their contribution. This is something that we often forget to do during busy times, but this practice can ultimately boost team collective efficacy, satisfaction and positivity.

>> Bring mental fitness into feedback sessions

Too often feedback sessions focus on the outcome rather than the processes that led to that outcome. Leaders can encourage their team members to better reflect on their process by scaffolding conversations around the 7 skills of mental fitness (positivity, confidence, motivation, focus, stress management, connection and meaning).

Leaders can not only invite team members to reflect on their strengths and areas for improvement, but also share how they feel they can better support their team members’ mental fitness. Taking connection as an example, do team members build strong cross-team relationships and seek out the support of others and how can leaders help create stronger connections?

>> Be vulnerable

Vulnerability is a demonstration of both trust and courage. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with our team – sharing our mistakes, concerns and struggles – improves our relationship with them and grants them permission to do the same.

Steps you can take to look after your leaders 

1.  Include mental fitness training in leader onboarding

Make mental fitness training a necessary and formalised part of leader onboarding. This sets the tone for a culture which not only normalises but prioritises mental fitness – seeing it as an essential ingredient to good working practice, productivity and delivering commercial results.

2. Bring your leaders together to set your Mental Fitness vision

Set your Mental Fitness vision as an organisation. Ask your leaders to contribute to this vision to increase buy-in from the top down.

3. Make mental fitness visible and integrate it into the everyday

Encourage your leaders to visibly integrate mental fitness training into their everyday schedules – clearly committing to an activity or reflection time to build their mental skills . Seeing leaders make time for their own mental fitness encourages others to do the same and can transform workplace productivity. This also protects against chronic stress and burnout – reducing the need for your people to take time off when stress gets too much for them.

The evidence-base for Mental Fitness

Fika has proven that just five minutes of Mental Fitness training a day, three times a week for six weeks, not only prevents mental health decline, but improves performance, positivity and self-efficacy.

Upskilling managers and leaders is the crucial first step to transforming culture, output and productivity across your entire organisation.

Find out more.

Want to learn more about Mental Fitness training and how to integrate it across your organisation? Join our workshops at The Watercooler for more practical tools, techniques and exercises that you can implement within your own teams – or visit us at stand W69 to speak with one of our experts about transforming your workplace culture through embedded mental fitness practice.

More details and register for FREE entry to The Watercooler Event here.

About the author

Dr Fran Longstaff is Head of Psychology at Fika Mental Fitness. With more than 15 years’ academic and applied experience in sport and exercise psychology, Fran oversees Fika’s Behavioural Science output, designing and implementing organisation-wide Mental Fitness training programmes for Fika’s client-base of more than 80 businesses, education institutions and healthcare organisations.

She is passionate about training leaders and managers in how to build their own and their team’s Mental Fitness in order to transform the culture, output, productivity and happiness of their workplaces.

Fran worked as a lecturer in Higher Education for 13 years before joining Fika, and still works closely with Fika’s board of academic experts.


How Making Mental Fitness Role Models Out Of Your Leaders Can Transform Your Workplace Culture

A convergence of dynamics (including the recent pandemic, the rise in conscious leadership, and talent shortages) is propelling employee wellbeing up the corporate agenda.

For those companies who are not yet convinced or sure how to progress (40% don’t have a strategy says the CIPD), in this article, I make the case to prioritise it and share highlights of an approach that links employee wellbeing to measurable outcomes and improved business performance.

The case for caring about employees

The great resignation triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, has helped elevate the importance of employee wellbeing. Employee churn, burn out and the lost productivity associated with these symptoms is costly. Mental health is responsible for 56% of long-term unplanned absences, making it the most common cause of long-term absence (CIPD). Yet, according to the CIPD’s health and wellbeing report, only 40% of UK businesses have a standalone employee wellbeing strategy.

Employee disengagement was prevalent pre-pandemic times. Gallup estimates only 15% are engaged (Source: Gallup). This situation is harmful leading to diminished business performance, ill health and low morale. It need not be the case. We know another way.

The good news is, employee engagement and wellness can boost the bottom line if such efforts are strategically aligned with business goals and priorities. Market Culture, a firm focusing on cultivating corporate culture, found employee engagement scores increase when employees are empowered to act in the interests of customers. (Source: Market Culture Foundation Study 2009).

Make wellbeing work for your business

So how do you ensure your employee wellbeing approach is fit for purpose, that it helps retain your great employees and progress your business rather than damage it?

We offer three golden guidelines to act as framework for a purposeful, people-first transformation journey.

  • Conduct a rigorous root cause analysis of what is driving employee ill-being and poor performance
  • Design your programme or leadership style with an understanding of humanity, human psychology and what good looks like using an inclusive participatory design approach
  • Consistently model, incentivise and reward the leadership behaviours you value at all levels of the organisation starting at the top.

We’ll now delve into each of these areas.

1) Our first golden rule is about gathering the right data and insight

Employee wellbeing is a powerful indicator of the health of your culture, leadership strength, and predictor of your business performance. Find out what is really going on and develop your programme accordingly.

By undertaking a rigorous and holistic analysis of the root cause for churn, illness and poor productivity and performance in your company, you will be more likely to come up with an effective programme. The tendency to be tactical — offering perks, recognition and incentives without involving your employees and understanding the blockers — will not lead to lasting results.

A great way to find out what is going on is to speak to your employees, customers and stakeholders (including suppliers). They hold many of the insights and answers you need to design a sustainable culture. How often are they truly heard, consulted and engaged?

Many have noted that ‘the great resignation’ (when people quit work in droves back in May 2021) had deep root causes that may indicate disillusionment. Organisational psychologist, Ludmila Praslova, Ph.D. identifies ‘moral injury’ as a possible root cause (Source: Fast Company). It occurs when employee values and organisational behaviour are not in sync. The best employee wellness programme in the world won’t work if employees are suffering from moral injury.

If your employees are forced to act against their moral code on a daily basis whether that be overlooking unethical practices or following instructions that go against their moral grain, they will disconnect, do the bare minimum to survive, blow the whistle and/or leave.

Make sure you diagnose your issues correctly. If not, you may end up with a programme that does not address the real reasons people are unhappy or even worse on the news with a scandal and reputation disaster like Facebook. (Source: The New York Times).

Measure the right things, the metrics that count. What gets measured gets moved so make sure you are moving the right things (not what is easy or has been done before). Employee wellbeing should not come at the expense of letting your customers down.

Facebook’s whistle blower provided evidence indicating Facebook knew it could not make Instagram safe for children amongst other claims now being reviewed in courts around the world. (Source: The Guardian). Once you have identified your weaknesses, limitations and strengths, you can build a robust and relevant wellness programme bolstered by an empathetic customer culture that will out innovate your competition.

2) Our second golden guideline is about understanding and leveraging human psychology.

Develop your programme based on a deep understanding humanity, human psychology and what good looks like.

Organisations often go for easy solutions. For example, providing access to wellbeing apps. Yet on their own, tech solutions can fail to hit the mark, leading to further disengagement and wasted investments.

Instead, why not adopt an approach that moves people into a reward state, not a fight or flight response. This process-oriented approach includes involving your people in designing solutions that will result in employee wellness.

An excellent method is to use design workshops that involve people in exploring problems and coming up with their own solutions. Start with a small team but scale up the impact by showcasing the work and eliciting further feedback. Creating task groups and change champions will help build momentum. Recent research shows by involving 7% of your workforce in transformation programmes, they are twice as likely to have 2x the total returns to shareholders than those involving fewer people. (Source: McKinsey ).

If you decide to introduce technical solutions, increase the chances of successful tech adoption with employee participation and inclusion in the planning process. Participatory processes release positive brain chemicals including dopamine helping to create a feel-good factor as well as employee buy-in and drive to achieve. (Source Corporate Wellness Magazine).

Most crucially though is the creation of psychological safety within your organisation. Google’s Project Aristotle proved IQ and money do no produce results. The greatest impact on high performance is psychological safety. Google regularly runs experiments with employees to find out the best ways to manage their large workforce.

They discovered psychological safety helped make teams more closely connected and productive driving employee advocacy and engagement. Operating in a fear state induces anxiety and decreases productivity. Teams that are successful approach conflict as collaborators, not adversaries, speak human to human, anticipate reasons, plan countermoves, replace blame with curiosity. (Source: Google)

To succeed in all realms of business and futureproof your work place cultivate resilience, agility and psychological safety. Create an open caring culture that listens intentionally, has a purpose that brings meaning to work, and combats moral injury.

Optimising diversity including neurodiversity will also deliver results and enrich your culture. Cognitively diverse teams can increase innovation by 20% and reduce risk by 30%.  “ Harnessing the power of Cognitive Diversity is set to become the key source of competitive advantage and the surest route to reinvention and growth’  says Matthew Syed (2019). Finally, when leaders focus on employee strengths, engagement levels increase to 73% (vs 9% with no strengths focus).

A lot of what needs to be done is about how the organisation is managed! This leads on to the importance of leadership styles and behaviours.

3) Our third golden thread is about fostering consistent and congruent leadership behaviours

To create a captivating workplace culture requires a psychological safety. Future leaders are not afraid to show vulnerability as a means to be brave and help their organisations succeed. (Source: Brené Brown). Customer-centric organisations that outperform their competitors need employees who are empowered and can collaborate with their peers. Leaders who can create psychological safety and a caring empathetic culture will ultimately create the most sustainable companies.

Future leaders must lead by example.  If the company mission says one thing, but leaders are doing another, morale will plummet. Just look at the trouble Boris Johnson is facing for his contradictory behaviour at the present moment. Don’t say one thing (e.g. socially distance and isolate) and do another (congregate and mingle) if you want a sustainable enterprise, let alone trust in government.

For an organisation and its employees to thrive, leaders must be fit for purpose, they must understand human needs, and be able to foster an open state where true creativity and human potential will be realised.

“At an individual level, we need personal fulfilment and happiness.  At an organisational level, we need innovation and sustained competitive advantage “  Timothy R Clark 2020

How will you foster employee wellness and a distinctive company culture to captivate your employees, drive outstanding customer value, brand advocacy, loyalty and profit?

The ingredients of a workplace that fosters employee wellbeing, will also cultivate winning business outcomes and performance.  To do so requires a safe milieu: “Psychological safety is the foundation of inclusion and team performance and the key to creating an innovative culture” (Source: Timothy R Clark 2020).

Make a resolution to drive sustainable culture change in your organisation. Boost your employee wellness and productivity scores and drive superior business performance by understanding the blockers in your organisation, what good looks like based on a deep-rooted understanding of human needs and model leadership behavours that will bring the best out in your people.

We would love to hear about what changes you will make in 2022?

About the author

Ann Longley is Director, Digital Strategy, Transformation and Culture Design at Something New Together.

What Will You Do In 2022 To Make Your Workplace A Beacon For Wellbeing In Your Industry?

Report reading. Portrait of senior woman sitting at table in office and reading few paper work. Business manager working on some documents at office.

As a new feature to the Make A Difference website, we’re collating a report roundup to give back to our readers, helping them stay up-to-date with the latest findings within the workplace wellbeing space.

Report: Employee engagement has declined by 50% in organisations with no D&I initiative, WorkBuzz

According to the “The State of Employee Engagement” report by WorkBuzz, organisations that haven’t yet started to invest in equality, diversity, inclusion and belonging (EDIB) have reported a 50% decline in employee engagement over the past 12 months.

The report also found that the companies progressing EDIB initiatives have higher employee engagement levels, and the further along the EDIB journey an organisation is, the more likely they are to say that employee engagement has increased.

Steven Frost, founder and CEO of WorkBuzz, says: “This research suggests that inclusive cultures create more positive employee experiences which directly impact engagement levels.

“Organisations that aren’t making efforts to nurture an environment of belonging for all, are damaging employee relations which in turn impacts organisational culture, wellbeing, and staff turnover.”

Guide: A guide to workplace bullying in 2021, Fingerprint For Success

This guide provides employers and employees alike with statistics on workplace bullying, real-time examples of the behaviours associated with it and what managers and employees can do.

Workplace bullying can affect wellbeing in many different ways, as Fingerprint For Success explains here:

“Bullying can cause trust issues within your teams, too; not just directly between the bully and the bullied employee, but across the organization, fostering a culture of secrecy, gossip, and paranoia if left unchecked.

“There’s also a measurable financial cost to bullying. If staff leave due to being bullied, there are the obvious costs of replacing them and training new staff.

“But there’s also the possibility of dealing with costly legal action if things get to a certain point, too. And higher incidences of sick leave and lower productivity will have a financial impact, as well.

“No matter how competitive and high-pressure your work culture is, when positive aggression tips over into harmful bullying, you have to act quickly and decisively to stamp it out.”

Report: Physical activity most effective way to improve mental health, Decathlon UK

Research reveals that getting active is the most effective way to start and maintain good mental health levels from January and throughout the year. The most noticeable effect reported specifically in winter months.

People who increase their rate of physical activity, even if it is only a marginal change, report a significant increase in their wellbeing.

The change brought about by increased physical activity was greater than that of other lifestyle changes, such as more money, increased socialising or starting a new hobby or interest.

This insight could be helpful for employers struggling to engage employees with wellbeing initiatives linked to physical exercise.

Find out more information about the research here. 

Report Round-up Featuring Decathlon, WorkBuzz And Fingerprint For Success

Physical activity at work. Executive performing stretching exercise on fitness ball in office

In winter, do employees seem down or have low mental health? This could be because they have lower levels of physical activity, says Decathlon.

In its new research, the company reports that those with active lifestyles have 24% higher wellbeing scores than those doing little or no exercise.

The change brought about by increased physical activity was greater than that of other lifestyle changes, such as more money, increased socialising or starting a new hobby or interest.

Decathlon’s research was conducted with 2,000 adults in the UK. It is in partnership with RED January 2022, which is a nationwide initiative to get people moving every day in January to improve their mental health.

The respondents were tracked against 14 different markers to get their mental wellbeing scores. These included: thinking clearly, feeling relaxed and having energy to spare.

November And December See Lowest Levels Of Physical Activity

The “Decathlon Activity Index” reveals that the frequency with which we are active gradually declines from the summer. It reaches its lowest levels in November and December.

In winter, the average person is 40% less active than in May. The spring month is when rates of activity are at their highest in the UK.

“It’s no wonder that so many of us feel the need to get more active in January,” Chirs Gilroy, marketing and communications director of Decathlon UK.

“As the research shows, physical inactivity has a detrimental effect on our wellbeing.

“This, combined with the reduction in activity levels across the winter months, means that by January we instinctively realise that we need to move more and boost our mood.

“We support RED January’s mission to encourage people to move for your mind because it enables people to make a positive change whatever their ability or interests.

“Whether that’s going for a 5km run or simply exercising in your front room, as our research shows, that positive change can significantly boost your mood and sense of wellbeing.”

Wales Least Active Region In UK

London was found to be the Cycling capital of the UK—23% of residents choosing it as their preferred activity

Fitness or working out at the Gym is the most popular activity in the UK. It was the main type of exercise for 32% of British adults.

Racquet sports such as tennis, squash and badminton are the eighth most popular activity in the UK.  In the research, 10% of British adults chose this as their favourite activity.

While it has mountains for hiking and vast countryside, Wales is the least active country in the UK. The research found that 41% of residents say they do no exercise at all.

Did you find this article useful? You can also learn more about what’s good for workplace wellbeing by reading Workplace menopause support needs extending to men, Workplace wellbeing takeaways from 2021 and Use wellbeing and health support to give staff a January reboot.

Physical Activity More Effective Than Money To Improve Wellbeing

Definition of the term Workplace bullying in a dictionary

One-in-four workers in the UK have been bullied while at work. While shocking, it’s clear that more needs to be done to eradicate workplace bullying.

To help combat this, Fingerprint for Success has released a guide for employees and employers. It includes statistics and real-life examples of workplace bullying.

What Is The Definition Of Workplace Bullying?

Bullying is unwanted, sometimes aggressive, behaviour from one person (the bully) to another (the victim). In this case, this type of behaviour happens in the workplace.

This can be an office, a factory or an external site, depending on the nature of the work.

However, as workplace bullying generally covers adults, and sometimes older teens, some of the ways people are bullied can vary from what we’ve known as children.

What Are Examples Of Workplace Bullying?

There are several different ways people can be bullied within the workplace. These can include:

  • Intimidation
  • Microaggressions
  • Sexual harassment
  • Gossiping
  • Power plays
  • Incivility
  • Exclusion and ostracism
  • Offensive or degrading jokes
  • Cyberbullying

If any of these things are happening within the workplace, there are things an employee can do.

The first thing they should do, according to Fingerprint for Success, is to tell someone about it. While it’s not easy, it is almost always the best starting point.

It’s also best to keep records of everything. According to the guide, bullies can spread their behaviours across their team, department, or even the company.

Keeping a log of what is said or done and when will help show there’s a campaign of workplace harassment. Victims can then show that to their line manager.

How Do You Know If Someone Is Being Bullied At Work?

There are often signs when it comes to workplace bullying. These could be:

  • Being absent from work more often
  • An employee might seem dissatisfied, downbeat and unmotivated
  • Not performing well at their job
  • Make excuses for avoiding work-related social events
  • Hearing gossiping about the victim

These signs can happen on their own, but be mindful that it doesn’t always mean someone is being bullied.

However, if there are multiple signs then something is probably amiss.

What Can Managers Do About Workplace Bullying?

As a manager, dealing with bullying in the workplace can be difficult. However, it needs to be addressed quickly, fairly and professionally, says Fingerprint For Success.

Taking a measured approach and following the official steps for disciplinary action can help tackle workplace bullying.

Sometimes, the bully(s) can be high performers within a team and while managers will probably not want to risk losing them, it could cost them in the long term.

Managers also have to listen to both sides and not take sides. This means that personal feelings towards the bully and the victim need to be discarded while the matter is being investigated.

Companies should also have an anti-bullying policy in place. This ensures that everyone knows what it is, how and who to report it to and what the potential consequences are.

Did you find this article helpful? You can also read more on workplace bullying New BITC report explores “What if your job was good for you?”, Only half of employers take bullying seriously and UK employees experiencing toxic workplace culture.

Workplace Bullying: A Guide With Examples Of Bullying At Work

Dry January at Work: Relaxed office managers drinking beer in office. Cheerful young people relaxing after hard work. Relaxation concept

January is always signposted as the month to try something new, so Dry January might be a great way to improve employee mental health and wellbeing after the festive break.

According to Alcohol Change, a leading UK alcohol charity, this could result in big benefits.

What Is Dry January?

Dry January is when people go alcohol-free for the whole month. They can use Alcohol Change UK’s tools and resources.

While this is normally a personal choice that is done for charity, workplaces that support Dry January could also help improve wellbeing, productivity and more.

Is Dry January Good For You?

According to Alcohol Change UK, there any many mental and physical benefits to going sober.

The website says that 86% of people who do Dry January save money and 65% notice generally improved health. Another 70% say they sleep better when they don’t drink.

This is because not drinking can:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce diabetes risk
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Reduce levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood

Further, alcohol is linked with over 60 health conditions, says Alcohol Change UK. This includes liver disease, high blood pressure, depression and seven types of cancer.

The charity says that it is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health, disability for people aged 15 – 49 in the UK.

How Does Being Alcohol-Free Benefit The Workplace?

Alcohol Change UK says that there are “big benefits for all” if workplaces take part in Dry January as a collective.

It says that reduced absenteeism and lost productivity from alcohol are estimated to cost businesses £7.3 billion every year.

So cutting alcohol out could lead to more energy, improved health and ultimately better performance and productivity.

For some companies, drinking alcohol has a lot of social ties. This could mean that employees become dependent on it for social occasions.

Dry January can show that social functions between employees do not have to be based around drinking alcohol.

Ideas For Running Dry January At Work

Here are some ideas to help employees get involved in Dry January from Alcohol Change UK:

  • Appoint a Dry January Champion to be responsible for driving the campaign on behalf of your workplace
  • Organise a dry event for your colleagues
  • Run a quiz about alcohol
  • Set up a competition between your staff members and give prizes to the employees who donate/raise the most for charity
  • Make a pledge wall—find an empty board in the staff room and make a poster, asking everyone to write their name if they are planning to take part
  • Sign up for free resources
  • Could your team try dry? Get tips for running a great workplace Dry January, free resources and a workplace pack

If someone in your workplace is dependent on alcohol, it could be dangerous if they stop drinking suddenly. It could even kill them.

According to Alcohol Change UK, the following are signs of alcohol dependency:

  • seizures (fits)
  • hand tremors (the shakes)
  • sweating
  • seeing things that are not actually real (visual hallucinations)
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)

If you have any of these symptoms, speak to a GP. You can also find out more about getting some support via Alcohol Change UK’s website. 

Did you find this article helpful? You can also read Mental health reason over a third of legal professionals want to quit, Going global with mental health first aid training and 10 reasons why employers should raise alcohol awareness.

Dry January: The Benefits Of An Alcohol-Free Workplace

Wellbeing and health: January 2022 desk calendar and diary with keyboard computer on yellow background.

The New Year is a good opportunity to re-set and to offer staff the boost they need to be able to face 2022 with a positive and productive outlook.

Brett Hill, distribution director, Towergate Health & Protection, says: “Employees have suffered from lack of routine and stability over the last few months and even years.

“The New Year provides employers with an opportunity to use their health and wellbeing support to assist employees in getting back to normality. Work is good for us.

“Under the right conditions, it is a positive experience that brings drive and focus to our lives.

“Instilling the right mindset and ensuring the right health and wellbeing support is in place will help facilitate this.”

Here are some things that Hill suggests a Towergate press release:

A Sense Of Community Helps Wellbeing

Many employees would have felt isolated over the Christmas break.

Now is an opportunity to build a sense of community at work—whether virtually or in person. Encourage team events, and help employees build good relationships.

Being Fit And Healthy For Work

People are often keen to start new health and fitness routines in January and, with the right options and support, this is something that they can continue throughout the whole year.

There are lots of simple but effective fitness apps available that can help employees to introduce and maintain healthier behaviours.

A Healthy Body Is A Healthy Mind

Implementing healthy lifestyle support can have a much more holistic outcome.

Physical health is strongly linked to mental health, and being physically fit can help employees to deal with mental pressures.

Provide Direct Mental Health Support To Help Wellbeing

Employers can offer mental health support directly.

This may be as simple as introducing mindfulness sessions or may involve offering mental health training and resilience courses.

While prevention is the best option when it comes to mental health issues, if employees are already suffering from depression or anxiety there are many ways to introduce more specific support, whether through an employee assistance programme or as standalone assistance.

Remove The Fear At Work

The pandemic has brought health concerns to the fore.

Employees might worry about COVID-19 and postponed medical appointments leading to missed diagnoses.

Implementing health screening is an inexpensive and effective way for employees to feel in control of their own medical concerns.

Early diagnosis and treatment is the best way to provide better health outcomes.

For those who have missed check-ups or had trouble getting access to their own GP during the pandemic, virtual GPs are a simple option for looking after employee health.

Consider Financial Concerns To Help Wellbeing And Health

Particularly after the expense of Christmas, many staff may have concerns over their financial situation.

This can influence their focus and mental wellbeing.

There are online financial awareness and support tools, such as the Money Helper website. Financial education programmes can also help.

Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) will often provide access to debt counselling and support.

Hill continues: “It is all about making employees feel in control—of their physical, mental, financial and social health, which will all help their overall wellbeing.

If an employer can help to alleviate these concerns, then they will be rewarded with a more focussed and productive workforce.”

Did you find this article helpful? Maybe try reading Workplace wellbeing takeaways from 2021, Why measurement matters in workplace mental health and Expats want personalised wellbeing benefits.

Use Wellbeing And Health Support To Give Staff January Reboot