× MAD WORLD SUMMIT // 21 OCTOBER 2021: MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO WORKPLACE CULTURE, MENTAL HEALTH & WELLBEING
21st October 2021
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The first half of 2020 will go down in history as one of the most tumultuous times in living memory. As we navigate our way to a new normal, in a world turned upside down by the global coronavirus pandemic, one thing is certain: the need to address workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing has never been clearer.

"Putting pandemic recovery plans in place, business leaders are in a unique position to drive systemic change, redefine workplace culture and proactively adopt preventative approaches that support mental health and wellbeing. Some are ahead and have seen the benefits throughout the pandemic. However, many others are struggling to develop and implement inclusive programmes that will have a sustainable impact across their organisation".

Claire Farrow, Partner & Global Director of Content, Mad World & Make A Difference  

MAD World stands for Make A Difference. Now in its third year the MAD World Summit is the flagship of our global series of go-to solutions-focused events dedicated to accelerating the shift from stigma to solutions, turning talk into action and moving workplace mental health and wellbeing mainstream.

 

What organisation would not want to be more successful after-COVID-19 than it was before?


The 2020digital MAD World Summit will bring the energy of our live events to the virtual world:

  • bringing the best minds together to share best-practice learning and inspire real action
  • blending insight and inspiration; clinical expertise and business imperatives
  • with our backstage rooms, creating opportunities for connection and real-time knowledge-exchange which would not otherwise be possible
  • meeting the information needs of private and public sector employers who want to adopt, embed and evolve inclusive, preventative approaches that support workplace mental, physical, financial and social wellbeing

Responsibility for mental wellbeing crosses job titles and departments. From C-Suite to line managers and next-generation leadership teams, so it makes sense to register a team to find the right solutions for your business – now, and for the future. Find our more here.

 


2019 Summit Highlights



The BBC attended Mad World - Hear their interviews here.

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INSIGHTS

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

COLLABORATION

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

ACTION

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






Latest Speakers



David Oldfield
Group Director, Commercial Banking

John Amaechi OBE
CEO of APS and organisational psychologist

Leena Nair
Chief Human Resources Officer

The Rt Hon Sir Norman Lamb
Chair of the Advisory Board

Dr. Nick Taylor
Co-Founder and CEO

Simon Halle-Smith
Head of Global HR and EH&S

Elizabeth Mpyisi
Former Senior Ethics & Legal Officer

PROFESSOR DAME CAROL BLACK DBE, FRCP, FMEDSCI
Expert Adviser on Health and Work to NHS Improvement and Public Health England and Chair, Ageing Better

Gareth Fryer
Co-Founder & Co-CEO

DR RICHARD J L HERON MB CHB FRCP FFOM
Vice-President Health and Chief Medical Officer

Will Carling OBE
Former England Rugby Union Player

Ann Francke OBE
Chief Executive





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Latest Mad World News

Wellbeing experts need no introduction to Dr Stephen Pereira. A multi-award winning psychiatrist and cognitive behaviour therapy specialist, he is best known for mentoring Lloyds Banking Group CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio in building resilience techniques, and helping ITV presenter Tom Bradby conquer insomnia and James Middleton, brother to the Duchess of Cambridge, overcome depression.

But now it’s not only the rich and famous that can benefit from Pereira’s 90,000 consultations and years of experience in mental health best practice – both with the NHS and as a private consultant. At the age of 58, when many might be contemplating early retirement, he is launching his own digital mental health platform called Happence.

Talking exclusively to Make a Difference News, Dr Pereira outlines how science is at the very core of his new project which will help business leaders look after the minds as well as the hearts of their people.

“It’s more important to look after your mind than your heart,” he says.

“You can, after all, transplant a heart.”

A life worth living

Pereira has always been curious about people. In part influenced by the suffering that he observed growing up in India, it also stems from the stigma he encountered when he announced he wanted to study psychiatry.

“I was the butt of the jokes when I was a medical student and decided I wanted to study psychological medicine. Then, the so-called brightest went off to become surgeons or study neurology and psychiatry was thought to be for those who were perhaps ‘not quite so bright’.

“It led me to realise that many people were afraid of their minds and their inner souls and I decided to grasp the nettle and tackle what others avoided and even ridiculed.”

Looking back, he was also profoundly influenced by his near-death experience from jaundice when he was ten. Inspired by the care, kindness and skill of the nurses who looked after him he was also left with a sense of being given a ‘second life’ and that he had to do something meaningful with it.

“Life is not worth living unless you have made a difference in a positive way to the life of at least one person outside your immediate family and friends,” he says.

And this is the ethos that underpins Happence.

“People told me that spending an hour with me was like spending 10 or 20 hours with an executive coach. I felt it was my duty to put solid, preventative, evidence-based strategies using neuroscience, biochemistry and psychology into helping others.”

The power of pain

Recognising that prevention is better than cure, Pereira describes Happence as being like penicillin for mental health. It will help, he claims, stop early anxious feelings from becoming a full-blown panic disorder or frustration developing into depression.

Because the way we think can impact how we feel pain, he hopes it will also help people with certain conditions. According to a pre-pandemic report* migraine accounts for 86 million lost working days a year in the UK. By learning skills and strategies through psycho-immunology, he suggests that someone experiencing five migraine attacks a month can reduce that to just one. Even those experiencing chronic pain will find tools to help reduce the intensity of their discomfort.

Flexing the mental muscles

Pereira is calling for a major paradigm shift in the way that employers treat their employees – so that it becomes recognised that it is business proficient and smart for employers to look after people’s minds as well as their bodies.

He says: “For too long, employers’ duty of care has been exercised through policy, procedure, health and safety and tick box exercises. EAPs, health insurance, gym membership. While all these may be helpful, they don’t go far enough in recognising that the brain is an important organ, if not the most important organ in our body”.

“Leaders need to be genuine and honest. Showing vulnerability is not a weakness – in fact it can be seen as a considerable strength,” he says.

“When the business owner, the Group CEO or the Executive Committee truly believe in the agenda, the business will have more loyal employees and higher retention rates.

“Compassionate leadership that feeds into company culture means higher productivity and efficiency by employees.”

C words for the C-suite

Using compassion and cortisol in the same sentence, Dr Pereira claims that kind and caring leaders will live longer.

He explains how raised levels of the stress hormone can damage the arteries around the heart, impact brain cells and turbocharge glucose – a condition of the mind affecting the physical body.

And men tend to internalise stress more than women, meaning they can have persistently raised cortisol levels. Women tend to be naturally more open about their emotions, more compassionate and communicative. This is why, Pereira believes, they live longer and why large organisations need more women leaders.

“Just spending one extra minute with a colleague in a meaningful way, trying to understand how they are, can make a huge difference,” he says.

Pandemic problems

Cortisol levels must have gone through the roof for many during the pandemic – the stresses of adapting to working from home, honing teaching skills for home schooling, banned from seeing family and friends or even going on holiday. Bereavement and grief will have taken it to another level.

Dr Pereira said: “The pandemic has felt like being under siege – an enormous source of stress impacting a wide range of activity from sleep to movement, and the way we think and feel.

“There will be other viruses and to prepare for these and cope with future pandemics, people need to develop a way to self-audit. Now is the time to learn to look after ourselves and learn to be compassionate to others.

“Ask yourself every day ‘How have I conducted myself? Can I learn to do things differently?’ We have a duty of care to ourselves.”

But it isn’t just down to the individual.

“Employers need to recognise that they employ people, not robots, and that they have a duty of care to these people. There’s nothing wrong with asking people to go the extra mile. But what leaders don’t realise is that if they show the humane side of themselves and really connect with people, they will go that extra mile for you willingly.

“By compassionately engaging with people, you take them on a journey of turning a company around.”

In a week when cracks in trains have brought the UK’s railway network to a halt, Pereira likens business leaders that have not embraced a compassionate agenda to trains running on lines laid 40 years ago.

“The world has moved on and business owners need to get on board,” he says.

*Society’s headache: the socio economic impact of migraine

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You can hear more from Dr Pereira in the Make A Difference webinar which Happence is sponsoring, in association with the City Mental Health Alliance: “The Hidden Pandemic: why wellbeing matters more than ever and what employers can do to help”. This also includes input from Janet Pope, Chief of Staff and Group Director, Sustainable Business, Lloyds Banking Group and Susan Bright, Global Managing Partner, Diversity & Inclusion and Responsible Business, Hogan Lovells and a Non-Executive Director of The City Mental Health Alliance (the community for mentally health businesses). Find out more and register here.

About the author

Claire Farrow is the Global Director of Content and Programming for the Mad World and Make a Difference Summits. She also drives the content for Make A Difference News. Claire is on a mission to help every employer – large, medium and small – get the insight, inspiration and contacts they need to make real impact on workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing in their organisation. She has been freelance for more than 15 years. During that time, she has had the honour of working with many leading publishers, including the New York Times.

 

The post Stress, Pain, Anxiety: Meet The Man Who Can Save Your Workforce appeared first on make a difference - workplace culture, mental health, wellbeing.

Stress, Pain, Anxiety: Meet The Man Who Can Save Your Workforce

This theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is “nature”. So, it makes sense that Business in the Community (BITC) – The Prince of Wales’ Responsible Business Trust – has launched  “The Power of Nature for Employee Wellbeing” toolkit. This is for employers who want to understand how to weave nature and work environment into their wellbeing programmes.

As well as supporting businesses to address the climate emergency, the power of nature can be harnessed to enhance employee wellbeing. The toolkit outlines some of the benefits of doing so and explores possible interventions. It includes examples from Business in the Community (BITC) members Deloitte, Anglian Water, Eurovia UK Ltd and The Eden Project.

The toolkit also includes links to additional useful resources.

You can find out more about the toolkit and download it here.

This is Mental Health Foundation’s video explaining more about the link between nature and mental health:

You might also be interested in these articles:

How Nature Positively Impacts Our Mental Health and Wellbeing

Wellbeing as One System: Mind, Body and Place

 

 

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BITC Launches The Power of Nature for Employee Wellbeing Toolkit

A new report from Acas finds that conflict at work costs the UK £28.5 billion a year, which equates to £1000 for every employee. What’s this got to do with mental health, I hear you ask? The way our minds (and most organisational cultures) work, is to control issues by compartmentalising them. Surely, conflict goes in one pigeonhole and mental health in another?

How does conflict feel?

Wrong, of course. The read-across from conflict to mental wellbeing is huge.

Think about it for a moment. How does it feel to fall out with a colleague or manager; to be treated unfairly or discriminated against; to try to talk to someone at work who is uncomfortable listening to your problems; to be part of an internal investigation; to have to disclose more than you may want to about very personal issues; to carry around a sense of guilt at letting people down; to wait for a problem to be resolved without any certainty of what the future might hold?

It’s making me feel anxious just thinking about these scenarios. Indeed, CIPD survey data confirms that conflict has a significant impact on our mental health – with 56% of employees reporting stress, anxiety and/or depression as a result of conflict. Our analysis breaks down the costs of conflict, but let’s remember that behind every single pound is a human story:

  • Resignations. These can occur at any stage. Sometimes a manager might not realise there is even a problem; but they may also be the result of a stressful internal dispute. Total cost: £11.9 billion
  • Sickness absence. We know from all the surveys that stress is an unfortunate chart topper when it comes to the cause of absence. Total cost: £2.2 billion
  • Presenteeism. This is a phenomenon that has almost crept up on many of us but we have recently started to take note. It means coming to work despite illness, injury, anxiety, etc., often resulting in reduced productivity.….. Total cost: £0.59 billion

Why is managing conflict more important than ever?

The mental health impact of the pandemic has been likened to a tsunami by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Although it’s fair to say that mental health as an issue has been mainstreamed, because everyone has become aware of heightened levels of stress and anxiety; some groups will need looking after more than others:

  • Front line staff in the health and care sectors may be particularly vulnerable. Research on the impact the pandemic has had on the NHS, shows that conflict is no longer on hold. Employees, many of whom are close to burnout, are reflecting on what they’ve been through and what they expect from work. Latent conflict may start to become more visible.
  • It may be a mad world but it’s also an unfair world. Mental wellbeing is strongly influenced by many socio-economic factors, so it is perhaps unsurprising that the shadow pandemic has hit some groups more than others. The health crisis has also had a disproportionate impact on the young, women and those with caring responsibilities – a recent report from the Resolution Foundation, for example, found that mothers were twice as likely as fathers to reduce their hours in order to care for children.

So what can managers do to reduce conflict and promote positive wellbeing at work? My three top tips are:

Tips:

  1. Have meaningful conversations. This can be tricky when staff are working remotely, but genuine rapport breeds openness and trust. At Acas, we have been training our managers how to pick up the signs of distress online.
  2. Intervene as soon as possible. Our research shows that informal interventions – having a quiet word – are far cheaper than going down the formal procedural route. You have nothing to lose!
  3. Don’t just manage conflict, be informed by it. Not all conflict is bad; it can be a driver for innovation and creativity and help to highlight deeper issues that need addressing, particularly around diversity and fairness.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You might also be interested in this free to attend Make A Difference webinar which is sponsored by Acas: “Supporting the health and wellbeing of colleagues through change and uncertainty as we navigate the new normal” which is taking place on Tuesday 8 June from 10.30am – 12.00pm. You can find out more and register here

Other articles you might be interested in:

Joined at the Hip: Conflict and Mental Health

“You Own It!”: Why Conflict and Conflict Resolution go Hand in Hand with Core Standards of Mental Health and Wellbeing

The Link Between Mental Health and Workplace Conflict

 

 

The post The Human Cost of Conflict at Work: The Link with Mental Health and Practical Tips appeared first on make a difference - workplace culture, mental health, wellbeing.

The Human Cost of Conflict at Work: The Link with Mental Health and Practical Tips

The issue of workplace wellbeing is not a new phenomenon, however, against the backdrop of Covid-19 existing workplace challenges have undeniably intensified.

Employee wellbeing is finally under a bright spotlight and mental health stigmas are steadily being dismantled. However, there is a certain segment of the workforce that is still frequently being overlooked when it comes to implementation of support strategies… informal carers.

An informal carer is defined as any person, such as a family member, friend or neighbour, who is giving regular, on-going assistance to another person without payment for the care given. Examples include sourcing healthcare and wellbeing services for a relative; providing domestic services (cleaning, shopping, etc.) for a family member or friend unable to do it for themselves; or assisting someone to collect or take their medication(s).

Who, Why, What?

Today, almost 1 in 4 of the UK working population is acting as a working informal carer and this number continues to climb at an alarming rate. Working carers are informal carers who are forced to juggle their full-time work commitments with the responsibility of caring for a loved one, not to mention their personal and social lives, too. With these combined pressures, it is no surprise that working carers are experiencing an array of mental, physical and professional challenges both in and out of work.

What are the risk factors?

The issue of informal care is increasingly becoming a problem for businesses and individuals alike, the key issue being lack of understanding. In fact, working carer challenges are often completely swept under the rug leaving them feeling unsupported and isolated. Almost 50% of informal carers feel forced to take sick days or feel compelled to lie about their situation so they have time to care for their loved one.

This worrying trend also leads to higher levels of absenteeism and staff turnover, further impacting overall workplace wellbeing. In a recent article, Forbes indicated that 54% of employees stated that they were afraid to discuss mental health with their supervisors. Even worse, 30% even feared it would negatively impact upon their job security!

Along with this slew of mental and emotional pressures, employees who are over-burdened with personal and professional responsibilities are drastically less productive. This inevitably takes a huge toll on overall company performance, resulting in a significant amount of revenue loss. In fact, in the UK we are seeing a £42 billion cost of informal care to businesses each year!

A light at the end of the tunnel?

In recent decades, there has been a momentous shift in the priorities of many large companies. It is no longer deemed acceptable to simply provide a one-size-fits-all solution to employee wellbeing.

It is no longer enough to just to be a reputable company with great products or clients because employees want and need the right culture, life balance and support.

Whilst this is widely recognised, for many HR professionals and decision-makers, there is still a glaring blind spot. And by now, you can probably guess where it is: the insufficient provisions for informal carers within businesses.

How can employers help?

Whilst this all seems pretty bleak, it’s not all bad. Appropriate support systems can be absolute game-changers. If employees are supported appropriately, many of these impacts can be diminished and potentially eliminated.

Creating a culture of openness and encouraging employees to open up about their caring responsibilities is the first step to success. Once carers feel comfortable to open up to colleagues, it will ensure HR teams are aware of their situation. Only then will HR teams be able to make take steps to meet their employees’ specific needs.

Informal carers are not being supported in the ways that they should be, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be. The first step is recognising the challenges faced by 1 in 4 working professionals, from then, we can begin to rectify these growing challenges.

About the author

Vivek Patni is CEO of WeMa CEO. 6 years ago, whilst looking after his grandfather he realised his passion for making change in the social care arena. Navigating the local authority, GP and NHS systems to manage daily care and medical needs was an absolute nightmare. Although Vivek could see the problem first-hand, he would have never been able to imagine the scale of this nationwide, ever-growing issue. Alongside his co-founders, he identified key areas in the care pathway that needed the most attention and would support service users the most and as a result, WeMa (Wellness Management) was born.

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Why You Should Support the Wellbeing of Your Working Carers

The global pandemic has brought about significant change and upheaval across all areas of life. National and international lockdowns created a global shift in working practices, with remote and flexible working patterns becoming the norm.

Now, with workplaces preparing to welcome employees back into the office, a whole new raft of challenges will come to the fore. There are likely to be new anxieties – and potential conflicts – around vaccinations (those who are vaccinated versus those who are refusing), on-going worries about falling ill, new fatigue as people resume the daily commute as well as difficulties adjusting to a return to work, to name a few.

At the same time, employers are starting to realise the importance of employee resilience in the face of future global health crises.

Just a year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Aon’s Global Risk Management Survey 2019, revealed that pandemic risk was ranked 60 out of a possible 69 identified risks. Two years on and with the benefit of hindsight, it’s highly likely that pandemic risk will be in the top ten of identified global risks.

As the pandemic has shone a light on employee resilience and the need for a healthy and financially stable workforce, the way employers support employee wellbeing needs to adapt and change.

Here are four ways employers can support wellbeing in a post-COVID world.

Keep communicating

There’s been an enormous change in a relatively short space of time, from adjusting to lockdowns and tier systems, to re-adjusting as things start to reopen. Employers need to acknowledge anxieties their employees are likely to experience – but they shouldn’t make assumptions. Some employees may find the adjustment to returning to an office environment difficult whilst others may relish the opportunity to return.

It’s essential to understand the range of emotions that employees may be experiencing, and then communicate with relevant information, from business updates, workplace policies around social distancing and infection control measures to health information, especially around vaccinations.

Employers may want to consider developing responses addressing employee questions which may include:

  • How can my employer keep me safe if my colleague won’t get vaccinated?
  • Can my employer tell me how many of my colleagues are currently vaccinated?
  • What happens if I don’t want to get vaccinated?
  • What happens if I don’t feel safe returning to work?

It’s important then for employers to alleviate any concerns and anxieties as much as they possibly can while continuing to offer flexibility.

Be proactive

Line managers and those responsible for staff wellbeing need to be on the look-out for signs and symptoms which may be a cause for concern. In the old world, seeing an emotional or behavioural change in a colleague was easier if you were seated next to them, but it can be harder to identify remotely or even in a hybrid work location model.

Employers need to adopt a proactive approach, with enlisting not only line managers to look out for their teams but for everyone to be on the look-out for colleagues who may be struggling. Educating teams on mental health awareness including potential signs of mental health issues can help everyone understand more, as well as normalise it. And even once there’s a full return to the office, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of assuming that everything has returned to normal and everyone is okay. People will still be suffering, albeit in different ways. Awareness of mental health needs to be on the top of the agenda.

Normalise a balanced work-life

Since smartphones and laptops moved from ‘nice to have’ to ‘essential’, the always-on culture has smashed up any work-life balance there once was. During the pandemic, home workers worked longer hours, working on average an extra two hours per day more than their office peers, according to research. Gaps and down time people may have once had, either during the daily commute or travelling in-between meetings, have now been filled with back-to-back online meetings at home. The expectation seems to be for everyone to be available, all the time.

But the pandemic has brought all this to a head, and has led to unions, pressure groups and charities lobbying for a ‘right to disconnect’ bill to become enshrined in employment law. The Republic of Ireland passed a bill in April which gives employees the right to switch off from work outside of normal working hours.

Regardless of whether it becomes law in the UK, employers are well aware of the risks of not addressing work-life balance: work-related stress, burnout and high staff turnover, to name but a few.

To properly address this, employers need to ensure work-life balance is covered in business policy, which is then reiterated regularly to their workforce, that it’s okay – and expected – that staff switch off after their normal working hours.

Focus on early intervention in sickness absence

There are a lot of question marks on sickness absence trends post-COVID.  ONS figures in March showed that sickness rates were at a record low between March 2020 to March 2021, despite the pandemic, but it’s still too early to fully understand – or even predict – the effects of Long COVID and related mental health issues. Yet the pandemic has re-emphasised the importance of early interventions, underpinned by good employee data, rather than focusing on treatments and cures.

Aon’s 2019 Prevention is Better Than Cure whitepaper found that prevention techniques were most effective while employees are healthy and ‘thriving’ as well as being significantly more cost-effective than claims costs of treatments and medical interventions.

Ultimately, the pandemic has increased the profile of health and wellbeing. It’s brought challenges and risks but it’s also forced businesses to work and think differently about their approach. Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention.

You might also be interested in this mental health crisis guide from Aon

About the author

Charles Alberts is a Principal Consultant at Aon and leads the Health Management team of experts who advise employers on Workplace Wellbeing, Occupational Health and Absence Management. During Charles’ 20-year career in the Health, Risk and Wellbeing industry he has worked with many diverse organisations helping them to achieve their employee wellbeing and benefits aspirations. He chairs Aon’s Mental Health Group which is responsible for driving the mental health and wellbeing strategy for its 7,000 colleagues in the UK. In addition to his roles at Aon, Charles serves on the Boards of the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) and his local mental health charity Mind. He is an Executive Board Member of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) and is a member of the Lord Mayor of London’s ‘This is Me’ mental health Steering Committee.

 

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Four Ways Employers Can Support Employee Wellbeing Post-COVID

With ‘Nature’ appearing as the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, Vitality investigates the science behind why being outside is good for our mental health.

One thing the pandemic has helped reinforce is the understanding that spending time in nature is good for us. Not too long ago, out of necessity, a walk around the local park (or forest if you’re lucky) was the most exciting outing for many of us. Adding to this, the dawn of remote working even spawned the ‘Fake Commute’[1], a term applied to a trip around the block which tricks our minds into thinking that our daily routine is somehow ‘normal’.

After playing such a big part in our lives over the past 13 months, it makes sense that the theme for this year’s Mental Health Week is nature – the thing many of us seek when we go outside, often without even realising it.

According to Mind, activities like gardening or walking the dog can help improve our mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger and help us feel more relaxed[2] – something put to the test by many of us throughout multiple lockdowns.

These findings were reflected by a recent survey by Vitality involving its members in the UK, which found that one in five surveyed were more anxious and one in four were more stressed than in the pre-lockdown period[3].

With lockdown restrictions easing, it’s important to remember the role that nature, going for a stroll and, of course, physical exercise can all play in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of you and your staff. These are the reasons why.

Getting regular exercise outside is easier

World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour from November 2020 recommend that we do at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate activity or at least 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous exercise a week – or an equivalent combination. However, achieving this during lockdown was not as easy – especially initially. Our data showed 28% fewer physical events, such as cardio sessions, gym workouts and daily step counts, during the first two weeks of the pandemic compared to the earlier part of 2020[4].

Most recent global estimates show that 27.5% adults[5] and up to 81% adolescents[6] do not meet the lower limit of the amount of exercise recommended by WHO.

As well as improving quality of sleep, physical activity is proven to boost cognitive skills, which includes emotional wellbeing as well as increased memory and attention span. A meta-analysis of 15 studies, lasting between one to 12 years involving over 33,000 individuals, found that physical activity is associated with a 38% reduced risk of cognitive decline[1]. Cognitive decline includes everything from the ability to concentrate to dementia.

It’s widely accepted that the benefits of physical activity are wide-ranging and can be felt immediately. Performing physical activity regularly will typically enhance these benefits further – so why not do it outside?

Let the sunshine in!

Exposure to sunlight – and therefore Vitamin D – is another way that being outside can support our health and wellbeing. Studies show that one in five of us suffer from lower levels of vitamin D and this increases to one in three post-winter[2]. Many of us in the UK are starved of it come April, so it is worth recharging our Vit D reserves in the May sunshine (if it ever fully arrives).

As Vitality Magazine explored in a recent article, the vitamin not only contributes to the working of many of the body’s main functions and helps protect against serious illnesses such as cardiovascular disease[3] and some cancers[4], it also can also help fight depression and fatigue[5] as well as boosting our immune system[6]. They say sunshine is good for the soul – it is for our mind and body too.

Why not hug a tree?

Usually more associated with hippies and environmental conservationists, apparently there is truth to the mental health benefits associated with hugging trees, if research is to be believed.

Walking in nature reduces the risk of depression, compared to urban areas[7], according to research by Stanford University in 2015.

In fact, city dwellers have a 20% higher risk of anxiety disorders – and 40% more chance of mood disorders – compared to people in rural areas, the study into neurological brain functions showed. The physical act of hugging of a tree is widely believed by nature fanatics[8] to provide a dose of the happy hormone, serotonin, and oxytocin, which makes us feel warm and content.

Studies have also shown that spending time in nature, exposed to plants, can also boost our immune system[9]. This is because plants release airborne chemicals called phytoncides, which according to experts, have health benefits for humans too. It’s no surprise, then, that plant sales for homes and gardens boomed during the pandemic[10].

Meanwhile, when asked in 2017, only 3% of us believed that we spend enough time with nature even though 90% said it makes us feel happier, according to research by Dr Miles Richardson[11]. One positive side effect of the pandemic is that levels of appreciation for nature will have risen widely and significantly. We hope this continues.

[1]Physical activity and risk of cognitive decline: A meta-analysis of prospective studies.

[2] https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritioninthenews/new-reports/983

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2726624/

[4] https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/how-much-sun-do-you-need-for-vitamin-d

[5] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2796.2008.02008.x

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/

[7] https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/06/how-walking-in-nature-prevents-depression/397172/

[8] https://wildtreeadventures.com/2020/04/22/hugging-trees-is-good-for-us-and-the-trees/

[9] https://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/health/06real.html

[10] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/31/flower-power-covid-restrictions-fuel-boom-in-plant-and-bulb-sales

[11] https://inews.co.uk/news/environment/how-hugging-trees-can-give-you-a-natural-high-15558

You might also be interested in this article:

BITC Launches The Power of Nature for Employee Wellbeing Toolkit

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How Nature Positively Impacts Our Mental Health and Wellbeing

The business case has been proven for employers to support mental health and wellbeing. But, just having a selection of resources may not be the most efficient solution for your organisation. Whilst plenty of employers already have offerings in place, they may be seeing lower engagement rates than expected.

Rather than throwing everything at the wall and hoping it will stick, how do you foster a joined-up, sustainable approach to wellbeing across the organisation? How do you systematically create an integrated wellbeing toolkit that best suits employees’ needs?

Whether you’re just beginning to identify areas of support and develop a wellbeing framework, or you’ve got a shed full of wellbeing tools that needs sorting out, employers who want to find answers to these questions and assess the best approach for their organisation can register for a free to attend interactive webinar: “The Why and How of Creating a Joined-up Workplace Wellbeing Toolkit”.

This will take place on Thursday 10 June from 2.00pm – 3.00pm. Make A Difference Media is producing the webinar with the kind support of Togetherall and in association with Investors in People.

Deliberation, development, and discussion

For this interactive webinar, Henry Jones, CEO of online mental health service provider Togetherall, will first explain why a joined-up approach to workplace mental health and wellbeing makes sense, both for employees and for the business.

We’ll then open to discussion, exploring how a range of wellbeing leaders are achieving a joined-up approach including:

  • How you decide which solutions are right for your employees and create pathways to meet different needs.
  • The pros and cons of a mental health and wellbeing framework or policy.
  • Approaches to overcoming silos and achieving collaboration on wellbeing across the business.
  • Making the most of peer-to-peer networks.
  • Where work culture and management training fit into the mix.

Speakers include:

  • Henry Jones, CEO, Togetherall
  • Marcus Hunt, Head of Global Health Services – EMEA, Johnson & Johnson
  • Paul Devoy, Chief Executive, Investors in People
  • Amy Matthews, Business Partner, Health and Safety Risk Manager, ITV

The content is recommended for CEOs, COOs, CFOs, CHROs and Chief Medical Officers who are making decisions about investment in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of employees. It’s also highly relevant for Wellbeing Leaders, HR, Talent and Benefits professionals, Business Transformation Leaders, as well as workplace mental health and wellbeing champions.

In other words, anyone, from any type or size of organisation, who wants to ensure their mental health and wellbeing toolkit is joined-up, effective and sustainable.

You can find out more about the presenters and register to attend the webinar here.

The post The Why and How of Creating a Joined-up Workplace Wellbeing Toolkit – Webinar appeared first on make a difference - workplace culture, mental health, wellbeing.

The Why and How of Creating a Joined-up Workplace Wellbeing Toolkit – Webinar

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK and the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month for the U.S. It’s encouraging to see lots of people are talking about workplace mental health and wellbeing, the impact of the pandemic and what employers need to do to support colleagues moving forwards.

But not everybody has the same take on this. I recently met Gareth Fryer, a co-founder of mental fitness and skills development platform Fika who in this five minute video shares his perspective with us.

About the author

Claire Farrow is the Global Director of Content and Programming for the MAD World and Make a Difference Summits. She also drives the content for Make A Difference News. Claire is on a mission. She wants to help every employer – large, medium and small – get the insight, inspiration and contacts they need to make real impact on workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing in their organisation. She has been freelance for more than 15 years. During that time, she has had the honour of working with many leading publishers, including the New York Times

The post Zoom in: Gareth Fryer, Co-founder, Fika appeared first on make a difference - workplace culture, mental health, wellbeing.

Zoom in: Gareth Fryer, Co-founder, Fika

Supermarket group Tesco (TSCO.L) has agreed to increase healthy food options at operations in Europe as well as Britain to appease investors who had filed a landmark shareholder resolution to force the issue.

As reported by Reuters, the coalition of Tesco activist investors calling for Britain’s biggest supermarket group to set targets to sell a greater proportion of healthy food withdrew their shareholder meeting resolution on Wednesday after the company’s pledge.

Investment group ShareAction co-ordinated the February filing of the resolution by institutional investors including Robeco, J O Hambro and the Guy’s and St. Thomas’ health charity, as well as 101 individual Tesco shareholders. read more

The move represented the first health-based shareholder resolution filed at a UK-listed company.

Committing to progress

It initially prompted Tesco, which has a 27% share of the UK grocery market, to commit to increase sales of healthy products from 58% to 65% of total sales in its UK and Irish stores by 2025.

However, ShareAction kept its resolution on the table to encourage Tesco to take similar steps with its Central European stores and its Booker wholesale subsidiary, which supplies supermarket chains Budgens and Londis.

Given that Tesco has now agreed to do this, ShareAction has withdrawn the resolution.

It said a two-year process of engagement has now been agreed between Tesco, ShareAction and investors in the Healthy Markets Coalition, with Tesco implementing new commitments covering 52 billion pounds ($72 billion) of revenue.

Implications for employers

Louisa Hodge, engagement manager at ShareAction said: “Investors are recognising the importance of health,”

“By filing a shareholder resolution, our investor coalition sent a strong message to Tesco and to other supermarkets that shifting sales toward healthier options is important.”

Tesco said it shared the same goal as ShareAction to make it easier for customers to eat more healthily.

“These new commitments will ensure that every customer – wherever and however they shop with us – will have even greater access to affordable, healthy and sustainable food,” said Sarah Bradbury, Tesco’s group quality director.

Does this reflect the need for a workplace health and wellbeing index?

Catherine de la Poer, Founder, Halcyon Coaching predicts that wellbeing impact disclosure will be next in line for compulsory organisational reporting, following in the footsteps of gender and ethnicity pay gap reporting. She says: “This is yet another significant move by investors to recognise the importance of human health and wellbeing. Simply put health is wealth. ESG funds are gaining momentum. Europe’s investment industry is being transformed as capital is redirected into more sustainable activities. Environmental impact matters as does how organisations treat their employees; good to see the conversation moving beyond platitudes to real accountability”.

How can the business community do more to enhance health and health equity? Business for Health (https://www.businessforhealth.org/), a business-led coalition of socially responsible employers, investors, purchasers and providers of goods, has been set up to explore this.

Echoing de la Poer’s prediction, a key priority for Business for Health in 2021 is the development of an acceptable and easily captured Index for companies, employers and investors to measure contributions to health (now and into the future), as a prelude to a wider risk management framework.

This Index will help to identify ‘commercial determinants of health’ in their widest sense-, share best practice, and facilitate generation of knowledge to understand how business can improve population health. The approach will be cross-sectoral and the working model will encourage smaller employers as well as larger businesses to be represented; the business community will help us design and co-create it, while learning and sharing and iterating as we go on how business can create better health.

If you would like to help to inform this initiative and help to shape the programme, you can contribute to Business for Health’s short survey here.

Feedback to the survey will be used to create a series of virtual round tables that Business for Health will be running in May and June 2021, and to which survey contributors will be invited.

About the author

Claire Farrow is the Global Director of Content and Programming for the Mad World and Make a Difference Summits. She also drives the content for Make A Difference News. Claire is on a mission to help every employer – large, medium and small – get the insight, inspiration and contacts they need to make real impact on workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing in their organisation. She has been freelance for more than 15 years. During that time, she has had the honour of working with many leading publishers, including the New York Times

The post Britain’s Tesco Concedes to Activist Shareholders on Health Targets appeared first on make a difference - workplace culture, mental health, wellbeing.

Britain’s Tesco Concedes to Activist Shareholders on Health Targets