The future of wellbeing in the workplace

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About The

Stress is the leading cause of workplace absence in the UK. In response, ‘wellbeing’ is on the agenda for the majority of people teams (only 8% of organisations say they’re not doing anything to improve employee health and wellbeing). But in reality, many of these programmes focus on physical health and support for those with mental illness, rather than true psychological wellbeing for all people (CIPD, 2016).

For many people professionals, wellbeing is a new area of responsibility, and an addition to an already-heavy workload of existing HR processes and priorities. It is high on the organisational agenda, but often perceived sceptically by people across the organisation, who are focused on the day-to-day tasks of the business, and unconvinced of the value of the activities on offer.

There is frequently a lack of clarity around what ‘wellbeing’ means and what the expectations and outcomes are for programmes – it simply becomes another thing for HR to do, reinforcing their role as the ‘parents’ of the organisation. Programmes repeatedly fall to more junior members of the team, who have a lack of influence and find it difficult to get people on board.

The result is a high workload and confusion around where to start, which can lead to programmes never getting off the ground. Even those that do are less successful than they should be, or unhelpfully lead to a culture of entitlement, where people feel it’s down to the organisation – and the people team in particular – to look after them. There’s a lack of real engagement and a mentality that it’s down to someone else – again, often the people team – to ‘fix’ things.

So, what options do we have if we really want to improve wellbeing within our organisations? Martin Seligman’s PERMA model provides a simple, research-based framework, which we’ve used to create a flexible programme that easily adjusts to fit small single-site organisations, large multi-nationals, and everything in between.

Initiated by a simple conversation mat tool (see this article for more details), it focuses on a series of six wellbeing workshops. At just an hour long, these are easy to fit into the working day – often over a breakfast or lunch – and built around interactive activities to empower individuals to take responsibility for their own wellbeing. These can be run in-person or virtually through online learning – either by the Bailey & French team or by internal champions, who we can upskill through a train the trainer session. Using an innovative preventative approach, they’re interactive and fun – using conversation and reflection to encourage active peer-to-peer learning and exploration – and making wellbeing easy for everyone to understand and apply on both an individual and organisational level.

For more information on our wellbeing programmes, including our wellbeing conversation mat, workshops and notebooks please email us or call +44 1273 830 830.


Amy Parker

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Photo of How to be more resilient and increase your wellbeing

About How

Early in my career, a question I was often asked by clients was ‘how can we build the resilience of our people?’. And if I’m honest, I didn’t truly know the answer.

I am exceptionally lucky and fortunate to work with lots of different people and organisations, across a range of industries and counties. Due to the context of work I do, people will openly share examples of the day-to-day stresses and challenges they face, both at work and personally, and how they deal with adversities and failures.

It’s true that there are some people who are by their very nature more tolerant to stress and ‘bounce back’ more easily. However, listening to these stories over many years, and drawing upon my own experiences, it became quite clear that resilience can be learned. Now the question I had to answer was ‘how?’.

My conclusion is that there is no exact formula or winning algorithm that clearly defines how to be more resilient. Rather, I see it as a combination of many things -‘one size does not fit all’ – with us drawing upon different resources depending on the challenges we face. Martin Seligman’s PERMA model gives us a great framework for these – in its own way, each element supports and enables more resilient behaviour. By building awareness and resources to support ‘Positive emotions’, ‘Engagement’, ‘positive Relationships’, ‘Meaning’ and ‘Achievement’ – and learning to maximise each element – we can ‘lead’ ourselves better through times of stress. And these elements work in conjunction with, and build upon each other too – positive emotions help us build relationships, which enable us to be more resilient, which in turn help us experience more positive emotions, and be more resilient, and so on.

As an example, let’s focus on positive emotions (the ‘P’ in ‘PERMA’). Knowing and understanding our emotions, and being aware of how we are feeling and why, means we can recognise when we are experiencing more negative than positive emotions. Negative emotions create a downward spiral that narrows our capacity to learn, problem solve and make decisions. So, making decisions when we are feeling down and despondent can diminish our ability to think creatively and find the right solution when we need it most. Further to this, an interesting piece of research I read recently showed how resilient individuals not only cultivate positive emotions in themselves, but they are also more skilled in eliciting positive emotions in others (Tugade et al., 2013). This in turn helps build a supportive network that aids the coping process.

One thing that is certain is that the world is ever-changing and in a constant state of ebb and flow as we all strive to maintain competitive advantage. Speaking with clients, this is very much a reality and a challenge in today’s modern working world. The consequence, however, is often stressed team members who are disengaged and unhappy. The context is unlikely to change  in fact, it’s likely the world of work will become increasingly more dynamic. So, what’s the solution?

Current approaches often target the symptoms, for example offering Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) or gym memberships. Yet this will not target the cause or solve the issue long-term. We need to be more strategic and preventative, empowering our people through their own and others’ learning and growth so we have the skills needed to be resilient. The world is dynamic and ever-changing, but by building our resilience we can enjoy the ride and be confident in knowing you have the self-awareness and personal resources to weather any storm.

Bailey & French are a team passionate about creating the simple, positive platforms and practical tools that support people to clarify what they truly want to achieve and then do it. We know everyone is busy at work so make sure our interventions are easy to apply, high impact and often self-facilitating. If you are interested in finding out more about how we work with individuals, teams and whole organisations to be more engaged, successful and positive, we’d love to hear from you.

This article on ‘Resilience’ is one of a sequence based on Martin Seligman’s PERMA model of wellbeing. Click on the following links for previous articles, on ‘Positive Emotions‘, ‘Engagement’, ‘Relationship’, ‘Meaning’ and ‘Achievement’.


Grace Walsh



M. Tugade, B. L. Fredrickson and L.F. Barrett (2013). Psychological Resilience and Positive Emotional Granularity: Examining the Benefits of Positive Emotions and Coping and Health

Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (2002a). Optimism. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.). Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 231-243). London: Oxford University Press.

Kumpfer, K. L. (1999). Factors and processes contributing to resilience: The resilience framework. In M. D. Glantz & J. L. Johnson (Eds.). Resilience and development: Positive life adaptations (pp. 179-222). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers


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Photo of ‘A’ in PERMA for Achievement

About ‘A’

An achievement is subjective and can only really be measured by the individual.

So, the effort of getting out of bed each day may be an achievement for some; for others, it may be standing up and courageously saying something out loud in a team meeting, no matter how small the comment; for many of us, maintaining harmony within a difficult relationship, skillfully managing one’s emotions in turbulent circumstances or even writing an article are things we just do or experience on a daily basis – yet do we take stock and celebrate them as real achievements? It’s easy to let these things pass us by and continually fix our gaze to the ‘ultimate’ winning of the pitch, prize or promotion.

The trick is not to compare ourselves with other people; moreover, it is essential not to downplay our efforts or successes we make on a daily basis, but to recognise these moments (no matter how small). Acknowledging these moments will make a huge difference to our sense of self, our inner-confidence and our ability to then serve others as a powerful human being.

So then, how can we recognise our daily achievements?

I will outline two practical things we can do to support this: by turning our appreciation volume up and by setting our own bar (or as regularly practiced in coaching, to realise our own goals).

To set goals that are meaningful and realistic, for both the short and longer term, we must at first have an understanding of our own values that tie in with our higher purpose (as covered in the ‘Meaning’ part of Seligman’s PERMA model). This may take a little time and thought – what is important in our working and personal lives? What things do we really value?

Setting goals fulfil our inner ambitions, give fuel to motivate and provide a sense of clarity to where we want our lives to go in the future.  Once the goal is set, we are on the journey: subsequently, every small step towards this goal is the achievements that will eventually propel us to our desired, greater heights.

Remaining positive towards these goals can be a challenge in light of set backs, working with others and confronting the restraints of time, modern technology and busy schedules. At this point, it is helpful to understand Seligman’s other key principles within the PERMA model and know how to cultivate positive emotions, discover what keeps us engaged, find support from having close and authentic relationships and finally to have meaning and purpose to what we do.

Alongside the setting of goals, it is also important to recognise each achievement through mindful appreciation, or as Bryant and Veoff call the “conscious attention to the experience of pleasure.”

This “conscious attention” is taking time to stop and observe, taking notes (perhaps in a gratitude journal) sharing our wins and congratulating ourselves. The more we can do this, the more the state of celebrating our own achievements will become a habit, and we can to smash through the taboo of hiding our achievements for fear of being seen as proud or on top of our game.

So to sum up, an achievement is not just the moment of glory crossing the finish line: it’s taking part in the race. The daily experience of living, loving and sharing what we have to give with the world is something we should continually celebrate – and just imagine a world if we all did.

Bailey & French are a team passionate about creating the simple, positive platforms and practical tools that support people to clarify what they truly want to achieve and then do it. We know everyone is busy at work so make sure our interventions are easy to apply, high impact and often self-facilitating. If you are interested in finding out more about how we work with individuals, teams and whole organisations to be more engaged, successful and positive, we’d love to hear from you.

This article on ‘Achievement’ is one of a sequence based on Martin Seligman’s PERMA model of wellbeing. You can view our previous article on Positive Emotions, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning here.

Adam Webb

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Photo of How to Increase Wellbeing through Meaning

About How

An unnamed telemarketing company had 400% turnover. That’s bad.

The underlying purpose of the company, however, was good.  The telemarketers were asking alumni for donations to fund scholarships for students who would otherwise not have the opportunity to attend university, something that they knew mattered and was important. The problem, they realised, was that their telemarketers were so disconnected from this outcome that they saw their job as “harassing people for money”. Not so inspiring.

They tried something novel. They invited a beneficiary student to come in during one of the lunch breaks and talk to a team of telemarketers. She told them about her experience at University so far, and how she wouldn’t have had the opportunity without them.

Over the next month that team increased their received donations by 17% and spent 142% more time on the phones!

Something seemed to be working. More beneficiary students were invited in over lunch, and month on month each team had an opportunity to meet them. The telemarketers now said that they felt they were “helping people to have the opportunity to go to university” and “changing lives for students”. Weekly revenue went up 400%, turnover went dramatically down. How are these results possible without paying £1 more as motivation?1

Economist and author Dan Pink is famous for his theory and ted talk on intrinsic motivation stating that autonomy, mastery and purpose are the fundamental drivers to human behaviour, and have a stronger effect on our actions and results than extrinsic motivation (i.e. monetary reward). He argues that intrinsic motivation, with purpose as a key component, are what drive people to get up in the morning, create, persevere, volunteer. We can get more out of people and increase happiness and wellbeing by supporting these intrinsic motivations.

If we know the priceless value of helping people and employees feel purpose and tap into their intrinsic motivations, why are UK engagement rates still so low? Why are we struggling to empower people to find meaning in their work? Do we lack the knowledge or tools to do it?

I would argue that we know the answer, we’re just not prioritising it. At a cost of 6bn2 to the UK economy, it’s time to step up.

At Bailey & French we are passionate about creating practical tools and programmes that empower people and organisations to explore meaning and increase engagement and productivity at work. Our interventions are easy to apply, high impact and accessible for all people.

Our solutions include consultancy, programme design, facilitation of workshops in person or online through to train the trainer options and self-facilitating tools.

We will be speaking at the CIPD Wellbeing Conference on June 19th, and in the lead up we are publishing a series of articles addressing different aspects of wellbeing. If you are interested in finding out more about how we work with individuals, teams and whole organisations to be more engaged, successful and positive, we’d love to hear from you.

Jackie Todd


1 Harvard Business Review, Managing Collaborative Overload, Adam Grant & Rob Rebele:

2 HR Magazine, Disengaged employees and poor health cost UK economy 6billion

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