Three signs your diversity programme could be missing the point

How are diversity and wellbeing connected? Does separating the two make a wellbeing strategy limiting? Rachel Arkle from Yoke Consultancy points ou the three signs why your diversity programme might be missing the point

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Fit for Work: Thriving with Nutrition

At Yoke, we focus on every aspect of a worker’s wellbeing. Nutrition is at the core of staying well and more importantly, thriving. It can have a huge effect on someone’s performance and focus, so why aren’t more employers helping their workforce with nutritional education?

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Is wellbeing the one thing holding women back?

For over a decade, we’ve seen a drive for gender balance in the workplace, with leadership in particular under the spotlight. Despite considerable effort and investment, many remark, that progress (even at Google) is glacial, with economists extending their prediction for gender equality until 2186.

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Abigail Lerman from Stella McCartney Talks Wellbeing

A fascinating insight into wellbeing from one of our clients here at Yoke Consultancy.  Part of our new White Paper, "The 4 Essentials to Building a Healthy Workplace". Read the full White Paper HERE.

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3 ways to prepare for Theresa May’s workplace wellbeing agenda

On January 9th Theresa May pledged to tackle the ‘stigma’ of mental health and demanded that from a ‘moral and economic standpoint’ employers should join her.  So where does this leave wellbeing and more specifically our role in the workplace?

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Our White Paper Preview with Justin Crossland, VP Global Wellbeing at Barclays

Our White Paper will be published on Monday 16th January, titled "How to Create a Healthy Business".  Here's a sneak preview from one of our White Paper conversations; Justin Crossland, VP Global Wellbeing at Barclays.

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Resilience; a cure or curse?

In Rachel’s recent article 3 things to ask yourself about resilience’, she highlighted that rightly or wrongly resilience has been heralded as the best skill to cope with stress.

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Let's Fight Mental Health Stigma

Mentally ill people are challenged twice.

Rachel Arkle recently published a blog on HR review emphasising five things you need to understand about mental health: what mental health means for your people, who is at risk, what to do about it, how to communicate, and understand mental health is a practice.

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Reflections on 2016 at Yoke Consultancy

Sharing your monthly stories: this month it's our Director Rachel Arkle, reflecting on her year at Yoke 


What was the highlight of your year at Yoke Consultancy?

The thing that has excited me most in 2016 has been watching the wellbeing world mature and gradually become a priority for an increasing number of businesses. 

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3 things to ask yourself about resilience

According to IBEC’s 2013 Management survey, stress was the predicted hot topic for the future of Learning and Development, with the solutions market expected to grow 27%.

Now 3 years on where are we at?

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Mental Health Trumps Hate

The implications for mental health treatments after the U.S. election results

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Social Anxiety in the Workplace

Steps for employees to identify and address this common mental disorder

In her recent blog ‘Three ways to deal with mental health’, Rachel Arkle highlighted three stages of effectively addressing mental health issues in the workplace: awareness, acceptance and sharing. To follow on from this, this blog will look more closely at these stages with regards to one of the most prevalent mental illnesses: social anxiety disorder[i].

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3 ways to deal with mental health problems

 

You may think yet another headline, but last week YouGov released their results from a 20,000 person survey on mental health.

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The FIVE things you need to understand about mental health

 

Mental Health is here to stay.

The latest BITC (2016) statistics show related issues are on the rise, with 77% of us suffering from poor mental health in the last 12 months.

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Leadership from the Millenial View

According to a survey by Deloitte, two thirds of Millenials would like to quit their jobs by 2020.[i] This finding causes many to search for the reason why Millenials are leaving the workplace after such a short period. Although they are considered the most stressed generation ever by the American Psychological Association, stress was not the primary cause of Millenials leaving. The strongest predictor for Millenials seeking new jobs was feeling unappreciated at work .[ii] So how can workers feeling unappreciated be prevented? Better Leadership.

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As with all things, lead by example

It is a commonly held wisdom that before you’re able to help others, you must first help yourself. For example on a plane, you are asked to first fit your own oxygen mask before helping others.

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Embedding mindfulness into daily life 

 
This month sees the highest number of google searches ever recorded for the term “Mindfulness.” Mindfulness remains a big deal, with the flurry of media attention continuing to grow year on year. However, despite this popularity how many of us really understand what it’s all about. And perhaps more importantly how to integrate it into our working life?

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Work/life balance comes from you too!

The workplace is changing, with more forward thinking companies realising that getting the best out of their employees, means providing balance and support. This wasn’t always the case – traditionally, having good financial performance was the only indicator to a successful business (1). However, we now see that happiness and good results in the workplace go hand I hand, with Oswold et al (2014) finding that happiness made individuals on average 12% more productive in their tasks. (2)

 

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Ask your employees what work/ life balance means to them

 
Achieving a healthy work/ life balance can often feel like an unattainable goal, a constant clash of the employee vs. the organisation. However, what if we’re asking the wrong question. 
 
 
What if employers worked together with their employees and asked what does a good work/life balance look like for you and how can we help you to achieve this?

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Are you a Wellbeing leader? - #wellbeingrealitycheck

 

Wellbeing is booming

 

Wellbeing is booming. According to Google Trends there are now 50% more “wellbeing” searches than 5 years ago. Across the globe Australia’s curiosities are the highest, with the UK a close second. And most interesting it is here in the UK that we refine our searches towards work most frequently, asking “What is workplace wellbeing?” and “What are the best steps towards workplace wellbeing?” the most. 

So with all that in mind, I’m going to offer a succinct definition of wellbeing and it’s value to your business. And from here invite you to take Yoke’s 30 seconds #wellbeingrealitycheckquiz to figure out where you’re at with wellbeing today….and of course what best step to take next :)

Enjoy!

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How Volunteering Can Improve Your Financial Wellbeing

 
Not many people would think of volunteer work as a way to improve their financial health. But then not many people fully understand what it means to be financially ‘healthy’. 

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The Financial Element of the Wellbeing Equation

 
We all know how stressful money worries can be but have you ever thought about the impact these concerns have on how productive you are at work? Barclays (2014) found that 1 in every 5 employees they questioned admitted that financial worries negatively affected their work and productivity levels. Research has also found links between financial stress and absenteeism (Jinhee and Thomas, 2003). All of this has a detrimental effect on both the individuals involved and the bottom-line of their organisation.

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Financial Health & The EU

Whether you were leave or remain, we can all agree that we are in one of the most dramatic and unstable periods that the UK has faced in modern times. The post-referendum fallout has ranged from the predictable (plummeting pound, a gloating Farage and a farewell to Cameron), to the bizarre (Backstabbing Gove, regretful leave voters, Brexit camp already renegading on their promises) to the heart-breaking (broken governments and the exposure of latent racism and xenophobia). These recent events, as well as the general uncertainty borne from this, have led to higher levels of anxiety and stress amongst Britons. The Guardian has already reported an increase in mental health referrals and therapists’ citing higher anxiety and despair amongst their patients¹.

 

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“Are you a wellbeing leader or a laggard?”

 

Wellbeing is here to stay.


As busy HR execs you know it’s important. The business case is well cited and you are aware that some of your competitors are moving forward quicker than others. It’s something you’d like to spend more time on, but as ever divergent priorities pop up, and it’s a challenge to make it happen.

 

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"Sorry I can't, I'm sooo skint!"

 
I am sure everyone has a friend like Sarah. She is the friend that is always skint. You kind of just take her for her word but you really can’t work out why. She is in a similar job to you, shops in H&M and still goes for the house wine on the menu but claims to never have any money.  She will object to splitting the bill at restaurants, and rather painstakingly calculate her share, whilst telling you about a new jacket she just brought. She can’t contribute to birthday presents but didn’t she get an uber back from the party?

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Financial Wellbeing: A Lot More Than Your Salary

 
When we think of financial health, we think salary. And yet salary is actually not the most important aspect. There are also factors such as how much money someone holds in savings and how prepared they are for retirement. But further to that, it is about how employees think about their finances: Do they feel in control? Do they feel aware of all the options? Or do they feel overwhelmed and helpless? 

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Time to Question your Attitude towards Money

Seneca the Younger was an advisor to Roman Emperor Nero, a playwright and an investor; an accomplished and respected man. Yet it is his writings on Stoicism (a philosophy of life) that though written over 2000 years ago have stood the test of time.

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How to Start Your Day Calm

 
7am. Alarm goes off, you twist and turn trying to find the alarm, you reach out and find it. Relief. It’s off. 
 
Then what?
 
What’s your first thought? What’s the first thing you do?
 
For many of us the sound of the morning alarm is associated with dread and apprehension and often a wish for “just a few more minutes”. Then most of us check our phones, in fact according to an IDC research report (2013) 4 out of 5 of us check our smartphones within 15 minutes of waking up.

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Go the Extra Mile...It'll Make Your Feel Good!

 

Doing something for nothing is a concept that has become somewhat alien to us, especially at work. We have in essence established a transactional relationship where the condition is: ‘I provide you with my services and you remunerate me’. It’s your bog standard procedure and what is expected. However, what if we choose to go that extra mile at work which does not require any kind of reward? For example, coming into work early/ staying late, helping others in their work or arranging events at work. So basically it’s a situation where we are voluntarily engaging in task-related behaviours that are beyond what is minimally required of us. 

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Feeling Worthless at Work?

 
A lack of meaning and purpose at work experienced by employees can create disconcerting thoughts of feeling lost and worthless. This may essentially be spurred on by an absence of authenticity in the role an employee plays in their work. It is not necessarily based on the salary or the status of the job in relation to the organisation they work in but more to do with how fulfilled and satisfied they feel with the contribution they make at work. This can of, course affect the quality of the work produced and in the long run this will lead to a lower output which will inevitably have a negative impact on the organisation itself.

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The Missing Piece of the Engagement Puzzle
 
After completing my undergraduate degree in my early twenties I made the arguably rather cliché decision to move abroad and teach English. However, about one month in, I had a bit of an internal crisis which sprung from my constant dwelling on questions such as ‘what am I doing?’, ‘what is the point of this?’, ‘what am I working towards?’.

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Having a Compassionate Conversation in the Workplace

 

A friend, Henry rung me up, half crying/half laughing about a “super-awkward-wanted-to-die-in-a-hole moment at work where a colleague, Emma, essentially asked him if he had mental health issues. His first reaction still makes me laugh thinking about and was something like - oh gosh she thinks I am batty. Have I been rampaging naked around the office? Crawling under desks pretending to be a baby? Despite the humorous image we were aware that his thought process was entirely flawed and adhered to every stigma in the book about mental health. Once he stopped overreacting and asked Emma why she was having this conversation with him, Emma said that she had noticed he was a bit withdrawn and wasn’t as involved in the team and wondered if everything was okay. It seemed this chat was coming from a place of compassion and had no obvious hidden agenda.

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Unlock Your Personal Values

 

Each of us possesses innate values that are unique to us. Being aware of what your values are and more importantly ensuring you behave according to them will guide you when making decisions and enhance meaning experienced in both your work and personal lives.
 
But what are values? Are they the same as purpose?

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Look to yourself: Finding personal meaning at work

There has been plenty written about the importance of making your work meaningful. Much of this refers to some sort of higher meaning, focusing on the positive effects your work can have on others and the world. Whilst this is of course helpful, it seems that people often forget that the simplest way to make your work meaningful is to find the meaning your job has for you. If this feels selfish, consider the fact that if your work is personally meaningful you will do it better and this will benefit others. Most importantly, though, you will feel better. We spend a lot of our lives working – it should be more than just a means to an end. Doing work that feels personally meaningful is a huge step you can take to improve your wellbeing (Arnold et al., 2007), and no, it doesn’t necessarily require a huge career change.

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LET’S dig out those STRENGTHS and pump them up!

 

Recalling success achieved on a set task does definitely boost our self-esteem. We may even be guilty of smiling to ourselves, day-dreaming about how great we felt. We may go on to attribute this to luck or ‘being in the right place at the right time’. However, when we truly analyse the situation and re-trace our steps to achievement we realise that we applied our strengths in a certain way or in other words tapped into our core competencies to produce the desired results. A strength can be described as: ‘ A pre-existing capacity for a particular way of behaving, thinking or feeling that is authentic and energising to the user, and enables optimal functioning, development and performance’ (Linley, 2008).

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'The rise of the Wellbeing Manager’

 

Last month Yoke released a white paper with HR Review on “3 reasons your wellbeing strategy could be ineffective…and how to fix it!”

Excitingly it got over 100 downloads in 8 days, which is one of the fastest download rates for the first 10 days. But what does this tell us?

 

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Being found out: Inhibiting us from making effective decisions?

I am going to start this with a story from my workplace. My work neighbour, Dave, enlisted the help of our colleagues to interview CEOs. Charlotte, a very senior, impeccably dressed woman was assigned an interview but had a moment of crisis. She didn’t feel prepared enough so couldn’t do it. Dave, having been let down by Charlotte, then went over to a 21 year old who joined our team two months ago and asked him to do it instead. With a shrug of the shoulder and a "Yeah sure ", he accepted. To me this was flabbergasting. Charlotte, a woman who has infinitely more experience, didn’t feel she was up to scratch, but this child was willing to give it a go?…and with a mere shrug of the shoulders?

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Why Aren't Employees Speaking Up?

 

It is no surprise that employees are more supportive of a decision if they have had a say in it. Seeing their ideas put into practice gives people a sense of accomplishment, motivating them to make it successful. So what can employers do to promote suggestions from employees?  

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Stressed Out About Stress?

 

Next month the Mental Health Foundation is celebrating national Mental Health Awareness Week.

With that campaign comes of flurry of activity promoting mental health, whether that be from your employer, your doctor’s surgery or even your gym.

For those of us who believe we have mastered that art of mental health we may merrily ignore the campaigns. However for the rest of us who have personally suffered from mental ills, such as stress, anxiety or overwhelming fear, or know of someone close to us who struggles with it, the adverts may conjure up mixed emotions.

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The Mind - Gut Connection

Stressed?

When we think about stress we think about our brain.

For the curious amongst us, notions of anxiety and fear may conjure up images of neuroscientists sketching out the ‘fight of flight’part of the brain, where these emotions manifest. Understanding this functioning is important, especially for those of us who want to improve our ability to think clearly and effectively.

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Relationships: reflections of your reality

February has arrived; the month of love, where we take time to celebrate &/or commiserate our relationships. Ironically it’s also the period where we realise we’ve let the majority of our new year intentions slip; of which a high proportion relate to improving the quality of our relationships!

 

So as we move back into our old ways of interacting and being with partners, friends and colleagues, it’s worth considering (again) what do I really want my relationships to look like; how far is that from my reality and what can I do to get there?

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HR Review Wellbeing Edition

Download the HR Review Wellbeing edition.  Including and article from our MD Rachel Arkle.  Follow this link:

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

 

Detox Your Team

 

 

So it's that time of year; the time to set 'life changing' resolutions that we hope will build healthier and happier lives for 2016.

 

The idea of setting resolutions for our personal life is often exciting; we go about planning ambitious adventures, health routines and travels that we expect to help us reach new heights in many areas of our life.

 

However research shows that many of us focus on every thing but work during this our ‘wellbeing’review. Manager's in particular have a poor track record in harbouring their team's renewed energy. Surely it's a rarity that all your colleagues are aligned to a single purpose at one time; a purpose focused on cleansing old habits and behaviours and embracing new ones?

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Community and Wellbeing

 

If you were asked how you would define ‘community’what would you say? Perhaps you would mention your work colleagues or even an online meet-up group. In some cases it’s difficult to know where to start, especially if we have a tendency to spend a lot of time on our own.

 

According to the English Dictionary (2015) community refers to ‘a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.’Historically the idea of neighbours and commonalities were often synonymous, with nearby residents often forming solid friendships that subsequently created our sense of community. However as the ever demanding and complex world evolves, the idea of community has dramatically changed with it. It now extends far beyond those who live just around the corner (if we even know their name at all!) to online communities and friendships that surpass geographical restrictions.

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Competency and Action

How able do we feel to live the life we want?

Or from an organisation’s perspective, how able do you feel as an employee to do your job properly?

 

This idea first popped up in 1959 when the researcher R. W. White published an article on ‘competence’as a concept for performance motivation. This led others to think more deeply about executive training, with subsequent ‘pioneering’programmes focusing on capability enablement rather than intellect. Gradually the thought that a combination of practical skills and behaviours improved performance was accepted and Prahalad & Hamel’s (1990) theory of ‘core competencies’emerged. In essence it suggested that if we focus on a set of key skills we should be able to live and work more effectively.

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Meaning & Purpose

 

Having led a series of Wellbeing workshops this year, Ive learnt that the third domain of the 7 step frameworkis often the most challenging to both articulate and be received by the audience.

‘Meaning & Purposeare concepts that mean different things to different people. For some considering their lifes value can be confusing; whether we adopt a scientific approach or a spiritual view point, asking ourselves What is my life all about?can be an overwhelming. And if we turn to Google for assistance were met with over 700 million results, which simply provokes more despondency and debate. For others however, embracing these ideas of existence opens up exciting potential, with quests for significance becoming a primary pursuit in their daily life.

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Our Entitlement To Be Well

Written for www.hrreview.co.uk

 
One month on from HR Review's wellbeing week and it appears some UK firms remain resistant to taking wellbeing seriously. Despite growing employee calls for action, certain organisations remain limited in their belief that health is good for business. Such mindsets not only deprioritise wellbeing but are also enabling worrying behaviours and cultures to emerge that actively discourage people's ability to look after themselves.
 
This week sees the release of two insights. Firstly, Canada Life Group Insurance's report that states 1 in 5 of us in the UK fail to take our full paid holiday allowance; and secondly the National Accident Helpline's survey that found 9 out of 10 employees fail to take valid sick leave when we are ill.  Despite our legal entitlement to both holiday and sick leave these studies reveal the difficult reality of managing our wellbeing at work.
 

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Wellbeing and Relationships

 

To relate is to make or show a connection with someone. To develop a relationship reflects the way in which two people continue to connect through a state of being.

They are an art and as we all know too well, relationships are both challenging, difficult, rewarding and nourishing, all rolled into one!

So despite the ups and the downs with our loved ones, whether they be at work, at home or in our community, it’s interesting to understand: ‘how do they really affect our wellbeing?’

A recent report from the Office of National Statistics has analysed ‘our relationships’using UK trend data from the last 3 years. It’s produced some fascinating insight which reaffirms the existing global academic consensus that relationships are not only positive but are indeed ‘vitally important to an individual’s well-being’(ONS 2015).

So that’s great, we know relationships are good for us, but I personally would like to dive a little deeper and understand exactly how they improve our overall quality of life and happiness.

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Financial Health

 
If we look to the Oxford English Dictionary money is defined as ‘a current medium of exchange in the form of coins and banknotes,’ and collectively are represented by ‘assets, property and resources’ that are ‘owned by someone or something,’ (2015). It sounds straight forward. Yet money and the process of obtaining money is one of the most complex elements of our life and subsequently our wellbeing.
 
We all know financial health is important, but do we really understand when enough is enough or how different levels of wealth influence our mental, physical or relationship health?  Today we’re going to explore the results from Yoke Consultancy’s research in the UK Financial Services industry and wider papers from the US to offer a practical way of understanding your personal relationship with money.   

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Physical wellbeing at work

The idea of being physically fit and bodily happy is enticing. Yet why do we increasingly struggle to achieve balance in this part of our lives?Following an introduction to our ‘7 sector framework of organisational wellbeing’ this week we’re diving a little deeper into the concept of Physical Health. Why start here? Well, it may surprise you that despite employees’ personal and often good intentions, our research has shown this area to persistently score the lowest in relation to all other aspects of wellbeing at work. Workers rank physical health as the second highest contributing factor to health and expect the second highest level of support from employer’s. However employees continue to seriously fall short in fulfilling their physical goals. So why is there such a gap? An obvious response would be to challenge the realities of our increasingly demanding work routines. As we work longer and harder our energy and time reserves are depleted to such an extent we find it ever more challenging to prioritise physical activity. Squeezing a gym session or an evening salsa class in after an 15 hour day is tough!

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Mental Wellbeing at work 

Stress, anxiety and depression are powerful words. They reflect the state of our mental health and increasingly pervade our vocabulary, especially at work. According to UK mental health statistics, at least 1 in 4 of us suffer from these illnesses, with many claiming job pressures to be a direct cause. How many of us have witnessed or contributed to coffee machine shares about high pressured working? When asking a colleague how they are, how often are you met with ‘I’m chasing my tail’ or ‘this is not sustainable’ responses?

According to Yoke’s research, ‘Mental & Emotional Health’ is the number 1 area of Wellbeing (across the 7 sector framework) that employees expect and want help from their employers. Yet despite this call for action, a recent AXAPP Healthcare report found that 69% of bosses don’t take mental health seriously. So much so that despite 25% of the workforce taking mental health leave, employers did not believe or support it as a valid reason for absence. This trend is worrying, but as MIND, the mental health charity responded, ‘not unexpected.’ This divide between individual’s needs and group action is reiterated at the national level.

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