Well-Being @ Work

Last week I spoke at the Work 2.0 Conference on Positive Leadership and the impact of applying the science of Positive Psychology at Work. Many of you know I’ve rabbiting on about this for years! And it was certainly inspiring to see some exemplar organisations like Google, Amex and Atlassian moving ahead in leaps and bounds when it comes to pushing the well-being@work boundaries beyond the office gym or even massage and yoga.

Now, don’t get my wrong, I love the gym, yoga and massage but we’ve all probably heard the story of the person (and it may well be you) that got sick when they were “taking care” of themselves! Most of us nowadays have a regular fitness regime and we know the importance of being proactive around our physical health, but for many of us, we’ve still got a way to go when it comes to seriously investing in our emotional and psychological well-being. And whilst there are an increasing number of leaders, teams and workplaces who are also just starting to get the need to think more proactively and strategically about their workplace wellbeing programs, in my professional opinion there’s a lot more that can be done to support well-being@work. There’s also a growing business case as to the ROI (email us if you would like some science to support your pitch!).

(Green and Palmer 2014)


It’s also been great to see more workplaces hosting talks and workshops on psychological disorders like depression and anxiety, which I’ve heard referred to as becoming the “common cold” of mental health. Now these disorders, unlike the common cold, don’t often appear overnight, and similarly don’t disappear overnight.

For many individuals, engaging in a proactive well-being strategy may have prevented them from ever occurring. Which is why we need our workplaces to invest in psychological well-being programs to complement their physical well-being ones! And while we know having a regular exercise regime can definitely reduce the chances of developing depression for many, we now have enough science to support the uptake of targeted well-being and resilience psychological programs at work – which ideally need to be undertaken in a workplace culture that helps rather than hinders well-being!

So what can companies do? Yes they can, and they should, invest in training programs on well-being and resilience for their staff and leaders but we need more than training alone. You may be aware the take always (retention of knowledge) from training (workshop) days is less than 10%! That’s why it’s not enough to just train people in one-off workshops – we need follow-up coaching (and not just for leaders) and we need opportunities out of office to reflect on our own lives and the place of work within them.

We also need to create “self-reflective” spaces for our precious “human resources”. Where do you or your staff get the opportunity to reflect on your life at work and outside of work? Are you flourishing? Are you truly living a values-congruent life and playing to your strengths at work? Both of which have been shown to impact on psychological well-being in a big way! Unless you’re someone who takes regular time-out to meditate or go on retreat, most of us are “mindless” when it comes to what really matters most and designing a life that supports our psychological well-being.


Dr William DeJean and I have been running “Flourishing Retreats” for 4 years now! We usually run these 3 times a year – beginning, mid and end of year – to help people carve out a little “me time” to identify what’s working well and what’s needs tweaking or a major overhaul! We’ve had fabulous feedback and we intend to continue to offer these “community” retreats.

So you may be thinking, how are these relevant to the workplace? As noted above, I see more and more organisations investing in well-being workshops and it’s just not enough! People need time out to reflect on what they’ve learned in a safe space, outside of the office, surrounded by nature (which primes for wellbeing) to think about putting knowledge and learnings into action with the help of a supportive community of like-minded individuals!

You might also be thinking this might be all too new-age for my staff? Well consider this, in our past retreats, attendees have been a Dean of Business, People & Culture leaders, teachers, health and community workers, parents and individuals who are just seeking to create a better life for themselves!

So we’d like to invite you to consider how our “Flourishing Retreats” might form part of your overall workplace wellbeing strategy. We would suggest that a placement at one of our retreats be an option that staff might self-select from a range of wellbeing offerings – giving staff the autonomy (also shown to impact well-being) to choose a strategy that works best for them. As we’re seeing more workplaces encouraging staff to set “wellbeing goals” in addition to the normal performance and development goals, again this is a great way to help your staff improve their wellbeing.

We also think that a placement at one of our 2017 retreats makes for a great staff Christmas gift!

Here’s a link to our upcoming end of year retreat – Saturday 26th November – and if you’re in charge of your workplace well-being strategy and would like to give it a trial yourself in November, let us know. For more information don’t hesitate to contact us.


Hope to see you there!

Lots of love, PI & I (Suzy)