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The Psychological Impact of Uncertainty

The classic cliffhanger. 

Done right, and it’s a very effective plot device. The uncertainty of not knowing ‘what happens next’ is both torturous and tantalising. It guarantees that we’ll tune in for the next episode, so we can find out if Rachel got off the plane, and then move on with our lives.

The reason cliffhangers work is because humans crave certainty, we really don’t like being in the dark for too long. Good or bad, a decisive outcome is always better than just not knowing. 

That’s why the last eight months have been so challenging – we’ve been suspended on a permanent cliffhanger, obsessing over what happens next. Psychologically, that’s bloody hard!

So I loved it when, at our recent What Now? event, clinical psychologist and award winning coach Dr. Hazel Harrison, guided us through the psychological impact of uncertainty, revealing how we can reframe our emotions, and convert them into catalysts for positive growth. 

I was blown away, so based on her awesome advice, I’ve put together a blog post that acts as a toolkit for you and your organisations, enabling you to outwit and overcome the psychological impact of uncertainty, which will be paramount for you and your teams as you move forward.

The Psychological Impact of Uncertainty: The Journey we’ve been on.

Dr. Hazel pointed to Virginia Satir’s model of change to demonstrate how we went from the calm of what we knew pre-Covid to where we are now. Let’s take a quick look at where we’ve been:

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  1. Status Quo –
    Pre-Covid – remember that? When our only pandemic reference point was Kate Winslet in Contagion. The Status Quo phase was familiar, it felt consistent, we had things we could confidently invest our time and energy in.
  2. Resistance
    Suddenly this disruption came into our lives and we probably felt some resistance to that. Negative feelings emerged and we might have even started to blame others
  3. Chaos It had always been a well-held assumption that you could go to a supermarket and buy toilet roll. But not anymore,  suddenly everything was being challenged.  We had to work from home, we couldn’t see our friends or our families, we might have lost a sense of belonging, connection and meaning. Not for everyone, but for many, an increase in uncertainty increased anxiety.
  4. Integration
    Perhaps our anger and frustration shifts, and we start to see how we can integrate all this ‘new normness’ into our lives. In fact, a lot of us have used this as an opportunity to reflect on our old rituals, assessing what their meaning was, and which ones we want to pick up again. Meanwhile, we have (finally) taught our parents to unmute themselves on zoom, lunchtime strolls have fully replaced ‘al desko’ dining, and there’s a hint of predictability again.
  5. New Status Quo 
    The new benefits have a certain glimmer, and we have identified what we want to harness and hold onto. So slowly we move out of that big dip, into a new place, and a new status quo. There’s excitement and possibility.

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But then, last week our Status Quo became a bit wooly again, and it’s been one of the most exhausting and tiring challenges that we have faced. We are continually being asked to reinvent, whilst riding a rollercoaster that we seemingly have no control over.

But as Dr. Hazel said:

[mkd_blockquote text=”“When this began, I thought, “we have to be forgiving, we don’t know how to do this.” But maybe now we can say “we have done this before”…There are going to be peaks and troughs, but we can find consistency with how we move through this. And although we know there will be moments of chaos, there will be many moments of learning.”” title_tag=”h2″ width=””]

As part of that learning, she suggested ways that we can manage this uncertainty, helping us to shift into a place of growth and change. Firstly, by understanding how we can manage stress, and secondly how we can learn to control the controllables.

BEFRIEND YOUR STRESS

Stress – you may have had a tricky relationship with it so far. But I’m going to ask you to kiss and make up with it, to hang out with it. It sounds impossible, but it’s a great catalyst for performance.

Our emotions are a powerful source of information. As humans we have evolved to have this awesome stress response, it floods our system with exciting, energising hormones that we can use to help us to perform well. We are so used to interpreting this response as a signal that something bad is happening that it can put us in an unhelpful state, rather than using it to trigger positive growth!

Acknowledge it!

The first step to transforming your response to stress is to simply “see” it. The acceptance itself works wonders in helping to shift your mindset.

Reframe it!

The way we think about stress really matters, so try and keep a positive attitude about it. A compelling large scale study identified that if we try and re-frame stress as motivating, positive and fueling productive problem-solving for the things we care about, we can use it to our advantage to fuel positive growth.

Weaponise it!

If you feel stress-laden, use that feeling as a motivating tool. It can be a weapon used to compel you into action!

Additionally, for those managing people, teams and organisations, get to know what happens in your team when they’re feeling stressed and anxious.Identify what it is that enables them to work through these times by thinking about these questions:

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  • How do they work through these challenges when they feel stressed?
  • We might be apart, but we’re all all in this together. How can we tap back into this?

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CONTROL THE CONTROLLABLES

Let go of the things that you can’t control, and instead make sense of, and take ownership over, the things that we can control. The chaos aspect is frightening, but even in chaos, there are things that will stay the same!  From your favourite mug, to your lunchtime walk, to a scheduled morning zoom chat whilst we aren’t together.

Move your team away from the “What if?” by asking them “What is?”:
  • What are the things you need to let go of?  
  • What do you have some control over, that you’re going to exercise control over? 

Implementing these techniques should really help your team manage their response to any Q4 cliffhangers, and we’d love to hear how you get on! 

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Download our ‘What Now?’ report from PUSH’s 3rd annual event and receive an invaluable resource packed full of insight and advice from 7 industry experts, spanning topics such as

  • How to learn from each other when we aren’t together 
  • Creating inclusive cultures that enable peak performance

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT

Change is inevitable. Growth is intentional

AS we emerge from the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, dazed by the levels of destruction the virus has wreaked on our health, wellbeing and working practices, the question on many lips is ‘What now?’ A second wave seems inevitable, if it isn’t here already and, having faced the most momentous upheaval in society since the Second World War, we can only wonder at what might be in store for us in the coming months.

The changes to our workplaces brought about by Covid-19 are unprecedented. Many commentators say businesses and employees have, in the space of a few weeks, been catapulted five, ten, even twenty years into the future. With varying degrees of success we have adapted to homeworking, and running our organisations remotely. The daily commute, the lunch hour, the sleepy mid-afternoon team meeting and the trudge homewards all seem relics of a bygone era. Yet less than a year ago this was the norm for millions of us.

[mkd_blockquote text=”Almost 40 per cent of the UK workforce continues to work remotely and among IT and professional workers, this is as high as 75 per cent.” title_tag=”h2″ width=”75″]

It seems that fewer of us are creeping back to those commutes than expected. According to a recent survey by the Office for National Statistics, almost 40 per cent of the UK workforce continues to work remotely and among IT and professional workers, this is as high as 75 per cent. Despite Government pleas to get back on the office-bound bus, few are heeding the call. 

‘COVID-Positives’

Why? Many cite continuing fears over Covid, which is a valid enough reason. Others, however, point to the fact that we have adapted astonishingly quickly to the new norm and, having done so, are reluctant (to say the least) to return to the past. Many firms, particularly those in the tech sector and the City, are embracing the dynamism of rapid change and reporting what we might term ‘Covid-positives’ – less complicated operating models, greater flexibility, the hiring of new talent and staff more than happy to be working remotely.

However, this isn’t necessarily the whole story.

At first, there was a novelty in being allowed to evacuate the office and work from home indefinitely. Now, though, the novelty has definitely worn off and employees working remotely are reporting the relentlessness and sameness of their new working situation affecting their mental health. Even so, they may also be reluctant to return to work full-time, tacitly acknowledging that the world of the workplace has changed, probably for ever.

The economy is suffering badly, yes, and we may well have more Covid-related shocks to come. But as they say, ‘a rising tide floats your boat’ and this autumn appears to have a distinct sense of change in the air; that of a future in which we can all benefit from a more flexible approach to working practices. The trick is how to maintain this positivity around a more decentralised working environment.

Work-Life Brilliance in a Human Enviornment

At PUSH, our core values revolve around effective communication and what we describe as ‘work-life brilliance’ in a human environment. Today, we see an unprecedented opportunity to put these values into practice across many sectors, creating happier, healthier and more productive businesses and individuals. At the heart of such dynamic change is resilience  – the process of reacting well to fast-changing circumstances. We believe that resilience needs to be innate; a holistic, intuitive reaction to every new situation. As we say, resilience is a muscle, not a plan. 

Below are some thinking points that may help streamline companies and their employees towards an exciting, energetic and highly entrepreneurial future:

 

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  • Clarity. What is your business really about? What are your core values now, and how do you see these changing and adapting to a faster, more remote reality? Understand your culture, strip away layers and ask yourself what really matters – to you, your employees and your customers.
  • Leadership. Where does your power lie now you’re working remotely? Can you guide a team of homeworkers into a challenging, dynamic future using all your charisma and skill, but without appearing like ‘Big Brother’? Can you create the bridge between remoteness and human connection? Leaders with high degrees of conscious thought and empathic behaviour will be the winners in this new reality – now is the time to work on these attributes.
  • Small is beautiful. Increasingly, the days when acres of space were occupied by large teams are over. Small, nimble and well-connected teams of flexible people are right on-trend now. What can you do to increase your team’s fleet-footedness and smarter decision-making while ensuring inclusivity and cohesion?
  • Engagement and communication. Are you hearing what your staff are telling you about their new working lives? Make conscious efforts to talk to your team regularly and understand their needs. We’ve all been through huge upheaval – show empathy and support for those struggling to adapt, and encourage those demonstrating flexibility and dynamism. Consider investing in training for new skills, behaviours and beliefs which match the potential for growth.
  • Self-awareness. Ask yourself what you really want from the new work environment and give staff a chance to do likewise. Some may want to come back to the office, others won’t. Some might desire a mixture of remote and office working. This is the time to think creatively about solutions, acknowledging that a return to ‘the old’ won’t work. We are in a brand new and challenging landscape, so work with this opportunity to tailor expectations and offer flexibility.

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[mkd_blockquote text=”You can only create value for your clients if you really understand them” title_tag=”h2″ width=”75″]

Business coach Dom Monkhouse says that an emphasis on customer-centricity and a positive growth mindset are also essential in this new environment.

“If you know your core customer and you’re serving them effectively, you are in a good position to be able to pivot,” he says. “Your customer hasn’t changed but perhaps their thinking has, but if you’re aware of that you can pivot according to changing needs.  I think it’s also important that the CEO has a growth mindset. This is fundamental. You can only create value for your clients if you really understand them, and if you do that you can charge more and therefore run a more profitable business that allows you to be successful.”

Amid the wreckage of Covid-19, the shoots of a new, more dynamic and highly-focused business climate are beginning to show, and those firms nurturing this growth are already seeing success. The tightrope walk across the chasm between old and new is perilous but thrilling. There may be more tightropes ahead but as a highly-successful leader said in the middle of the last truly global crisis: 

This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. (Winston Churchill, 1942)

 

Team Polarity. The burnt out and the furloughed – How the workforce experience has never been more polarised and what every HR leader needs to think about

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected our working lives more than most people can compute. For example, take the word ‘Furlough’….hands up anyone who knew what this word meant prior to March 2020………no takers? Hardly a surprise, but isn’t it amazing how quickly the term passed into common usage in just a few short weeks?

At the time of writing the Government’s furlough scheme has been extended to October, but companies lucky enough to have survived this first stage of the pandemic are otherwise still in the grip of uncertainty. 

As CEOs reshape their teams into lean machines, the fortunate are furloughed, the less fortunate are untimely relieved of their roles and the survivors are working doubly hard, over-compensating for the lost input of their peers, whilst desperately holding onto their seats and coping with cuts to pay.

Organisations that have had to let some of their best people go, need support for those who have lost their jobs, a listening ear to those who are furloughed, and a helping hand to those who are trying to keep the plates spinning. 

[mkd_blockquote text=”There is a huge need to support organisations that are managing tensions between those who are ‘in’ and those who are ‘out’.” title_tag=”h2″ width=”75″]

Companies are essentially work families, as dysfunctional as their biological counterparts, but with similar needs for individual recognition, healthy competition, support and even love. When employees are made redundant, they have to be honoured, supported and communicated with. 

Likewise, those ‘left behind’ will want to reach out and make sure their friends are coping, and support them however they can. Furloughed staff returning to the office will need to be kept updated with company developments so they can hit the ground running on their return. Those working, need free channels of communication to senior management to alleviate their anxiety and avoid burnout.

 

In short, a pandemic recovery programme involves all levels of the organisation, including people who will never return to the workplace. The only way to allow the wounds to heal is to allow everyone in your company to have a voice. Here are five tips for enabling this process:

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  1. Clear communication. Uncertainty can lead to great stress and anxiety, especially with a recession looming. Check-in regularly with your staff – furloughed, non-furlough and those being made redundant – and ask about their concerns. Keep them up to date with the doings of the workplace.  If you have to deliver bad news, do it with clarity and empathy.
  2. Encourage participation. Furloughed staff may not be able to work, technically speaking, but they can still play a big part in the day-to-day life of the business. Making sure you include furloughed and homeworking staff in meetings, brainstorms and other get-togethers will alleviate stress, uncertainty and anxiety. Make them feel ‘a part’ rather than ‘apart’. Trust your teams to manage their work/life balance while working at home.
  3. Focus on staff development. Furlough can be an excellent time to discuss with ‘resting’ staff the ways they may be able to improve their own performance, and that of the business. They may be keen to offer fresh perspectives and be open to the learning of new skills. This time of taking stock can be a highly creative one, so utilise talent.
  4. Emphasise wellbeing. During a period of great uncertainty, this is vital. Understanding and engaging with the health and well-being of all employees, furloughed or not, is showing responsibility. The months and even years to come could see an epidemic of burnout as employees are asked to do more with less, requiring greater resilience, up-to-date skills and energy. Offer professional support and training where necessary and encourage colleague-to-colleague chat groups or platforms which provide a safe space for conversations around good physical and mental health. Let people talk. They will need to express their anxiety, confusion and grief at losing peers.
  5. Keep up-to-date with Government advice. People on furlough will have a lot of questions, especially as this period comes to a closure. Make sure you’re 100 per cent on top of the latest position and are able to offer clear, informative and – above all – correct advice.

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Being on furlough or working from home is no picnic. We know that work-related stress can lead to burnout; also becoming clear is the fact the stress and burnout are still prevalent when the employee is NOT at work. Redundancy is a huge cause for stress and needs to be managed with the maximum of care and consideration. The dramatic effect of this pandemic will create versions of post-traumatic trauma that nobody could have predicted. Bearing all this in mind, it is now vital that companies act with kindness, understanding and empathy, seeking professional help if necessary to work through unprecedented times.

At PUSH, we take pride in thinking outside the box for our clients and our shared mission to improve the wellbeing of their employees. If you’d like to speak with us about developing an initiative to reduce the stress levels of your team, get in touch – we’d love to work with you.

PUSH State of The Nation: A View On Mental Health

As we approach our sixth week in lockdown, we wanted to take the opportunity to better understand the impact of Covid-19 on our industry and the minds of our people. 

The pandemic is clearly having a major social and psychological impact on the whole population. We’re seeing Increasing unemployment, families separated and various other changes in the way that we live and work. All of these changes are major psychological risk factors for anxiety, depression and self-harm, with even the most enlightened of fellows hard-pressed to have the full armoury of tools to deal with these current circumstances. 

Social distancing is impacting how we connect, pushing us instead to come together via zoom, facetime and other digital platforms. But the internet is becoming noisy, and the pressure to show up and connect can cause further stress and anxiety for some people. 

[mkd_blockquote text=”Half of people surveyed said that they felt more anxious or depressed than usual as a result of the virus.” title_tag=”h2″ width=”60″]

King’s College and Ipsos Mori surveyed 2,250 people in the UK between 18-75 to see how life in lockdown is affecting individuals. Half of people surveyed said that they felt more anxious or depressed than usual as a result of the virus. They also found that 15% of people are already finding it extremely difficult to cope, and another 14% expect that it will be even more difficult over the next four weeks. 

Kelly Beaver, Managing Director of Public Affairs at Ipsos Mori commented on the survey, saying “It’s becoming clear that people are beginning to suffer due to the restrictions stemming from the Covid-19 outbreak … Very worryingly, a fifth of people already have financial difficulties or think they are very likely to during the crisis, combined with the fact that half of people believe that it’s likely to be a year or more until life returns to normal.” However, we can see a silver lining running throughout the survey, with 60% of people saying that they have volunteered to help people in need during this time. 

So, the question is, what can be done to manage this? Or, can we just assume that as soon as we head ‘back to school’ after all of this is over, that everything will just return to normal and we’ll all be okay?

It became clear from our conversations with clients that they have different strategies when it came to planning for the future. For many, survival is paramount and the impact on individuals is a byproduct – to be left to resolve itself or reviewed at another time.

Others are putting their people and their performance front and centre; creating programmes of support either from the masses of free content available online or curating tailored activity to help manage their needs, circumstances and concerns. In particular, shaping different content for those who were still working versus those who were furloughed.

[mkd_blockquote text=”Whose responsibility is it to support employees?” title_tag=”h2″ width=”60″]

So, this does raise the question, whose responsibility is it to support employees – the companies or individuals themselves? However, the more pertinent question is do we want to have a bright future or one that is impacted by Covid-19 for months, if not years, to come?

How we feel radically impacts our performance and, our on-going conversations with clients and their teams, have already shown that the current context is leaving our people with huge knocks to their confidence. Along with fears that they are not good enough and, worryingly, that they won’t be able to do their jobs properly in the future. 

So, how can we support individuals to have a better armoury to deal with the circumstances being presented to them – supporting not only them but the world of business alike? Most crucially, with teams being systematically restructured and organisations radically reshaped, we need to ensure that the people left in our businesses have both the tools and capacity to not only sustain but grow our organisations.

We believe that self-awareness and self-development are at the heart of the solution. Understanding what is happening in our minds and then having the tools to manage them better. 

Putting a focus on positive wellbeing within your organisation to upskill managers and employees alike is more crucial than ever. Providing programmes of activity which can help your team communicate and collaborate better; become more creative and productive or for your managers to lead more effectively, will make a radical difference to your business in the coming months. 

We have to help our people sit more comfortably in discomfort. They will either have to make or be at the receiving end of tough decisions over the coming months. The way of managing this well is to know that, whilst you might not know what is coming, you will have the tools to deal with it, and survive it, either way. 

However, there is also a huge responsibility on our employees – in particular those who aren’t working and have been furloughed.

Whilst there is a huge temptation to reach for the remote control and spend the next three weeks, numbing, in a Netflix or Sauvignon-tinged vortex. Or, even worse, constantly comparing yourself to everyone else on Instagram and believing that you need to come out of this speaking fluent French or with a six-pack; please don’t. This will have a huge knock on effect on all of our mental health and will become cripplingly hard to return back from.

[mkd_blockquote text=”Let’s make sure that we all step up as humans – for ourselves and each other.” title_tag=”h2″ width=”60″]

Now is the time to develop our people’s resilience so that they can deal with whatever is thrown at them. Now is the time that we have to get really good at asking people how they are feeling and also being prepared to expect or provide an honest answer. Now is the time to dig deep and find our motivation and much maligned discipline and commit to deep personal development and self-care. This is all so that we can all not only get through this but come out of it stronger – understanding and managing ourselves that bit better.

What is happening to us all now is likely, and thankfully, one of the hardest challenges any of us will ever have to face in our lifetimes. Covid-19 has been a wake up call for us all to stop sleepwalking through life and to hit the reset button to ensure that we can propel our way out of this as expediently as possible. So, let’s make sure that we all step up as humans – for ourselves and each other. We need to be certain that we each have the energy, skills and ability to do what’s needed and ensure that we, as individuals, as well as our businesses, come out of this stronger and more powerful than ever before. 

Our survival, and that of our industry, is counting on it.

 

Helpful Resources

Up to date Info on Corona

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5 mindset shifts to combat festive stress at work

Since the start of December, conversations in the office and socially have turned to the busy run up before the holidays. These few weeks seem to catch us off guard every year. There’s a strange combination of enjoying the festivities and pressure to have it all figured out. If we aren’t grunting about endless shopping lists, personal admin, deadlines and Christmas songs, we’re enjoying mulled wine, mince pies and decorating trees.

The less enjoyable aspect of the season is mounting deadlines and increased workload. The final push to the finish line before a new year begins. Pile on top of that performance reviews, year-end reporting and 2020 planning. It’s a lot to cram in and we’ll be wishing for more December working days in no time.  

 

Whilst we might not be able to change our circumstances or alter timelines, we can change how we think about stress to help us cope better. Let’s take a look at 5 ways to think differently and combat the stressful festive season.

 

  1.     You don’t have to do it all

When we are stressed, our bodies release cortisol which reduces our critical thinking capacity and instead of being able to problem solve, our heart rate rises, and we begin to panic. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so get great at saying no, prioritising and putting your health first.

 

  1.     December is like any other month

There’s an invisible mental gap between December and January – like the new year is at the end of a long road. The reality is, January is just around the corner. Take December down a peg and take the pressure off. There’s no denying that expectations are present (forgive the pun) but remembering that we aren’t about to enter the twilight zone can provide some relief.

 

  1.     There are more things to talk and think about

You are what you speak. Next time someone asks you about your Christmas plans, who’s coming round on the big day or how many gifts you’ve bought, know that you can politely move on to other topics. The latest season of The Crown, a hot new restaurant or the Man Booker prize winners are all viable small talk – just don’t bring up politics.

 

  1.     Bring the cheer

Every person in the office has an opportunity each day to influence the mood of the team. Be open, communicate, but know when not to share. Stress is contagious and must be dealt with like you would any other illness. In private and with the right treatment. Looking after ourselves is a priority and one not to be taken lightly.

 

  1.     Show your appreciation

You know what they say, it’s the season of goodwill. Shifting your lens in the workplace to one of appreciation can lift your spirits and remind you of the great bits. A simple cup of tea, ‘good morning’ or smile can have positive effects on our own mood as well as someone else’s. We are all in the same boat after all!

 

Helping companies and the people within them enjoy work more and stress less is what we do. Want more? Take a look at our Workshops for a winning mindset in 2020. We will also be sharing more tips over on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to launch our 12 days of PUSHness. Join us to prepare for an amazing end to the year and super start to the next one!

Why we are not in the Happiness Industry

I spoke to a friend of mine last night, he holds a very senior position in a London based company, he’s done extremely well in life, he also experiences Bipolar. He told me that although he works extremely hard to maintain an equilibrium in his mind, he still wakes up some mornings feeling like there is no point to life.

He confessed that although most people would perceive him as a larger than life, joyful person, he wasn’t sure that he had ever really experienced that elusive thing we call ‘happiness’ and he was visibly distressed by the whole ‘happiness industry’ that was constantly reaffirming to him that he was not part of the gang.

 

Watching my friend in such pain, wanting to show him something of himself that we could all see and he could not, was a moment of realisation for me. As GM of PUSH and one of their Coaches I work in the field of helping people recognise the best of what their company offers and what they as individuals can do to experience the best of themselves. This means nothing though without the understanding of why the hell they should! What does it mean to someone who feels that all this personal development stuff we (as an industry) are offering, this positive mental attitude we encouraging, this happiness industry we are pushing… is just confirming a sense of separation instead of a sense of community?

 

I wanted to do more, I wanted my work to be even more powerful, to add even more value, to address this head on, to call out the happiness industry for the head-fuck that they were selling and provide something that really wasn’t afraid to say ‘happiness is not all it’s cracked up to be’ and give something in its place that was far more powerful, far more real and didn’t make you feel like shit for not being ‘there’ instead of ‘here’.

 

So I made a decision to stop side-lining my own thoughts on this, to own the fact that keeping your head in a healthy space is hard work sometimes, that it takes a dedication and a commitment just like any other change to life – that yes, it happens powerful decision by powerful decision but that it wasn’t helpful to just shout that out without the support to get to the moment of transformation.

 

What we need is not just a redefinition of happiness and its supposed all important virtues, but a whole rewrite on what lies beyond happiness – that is far more important.

 

When you recognise what is really important to you in life you can buy your way out of the happiness delusion and instead buy in to something far more profound. Happiness is transitory, an emotion like any other but not as deeply felt as joy, not as easy to recognise as anger or as transformative as love. It’s a state we feel we need to achieve on a permanent basis but what happens when striving for happiness simply leads to a sense of failure?

 

PUSH aren’t in the happiness business, we are in the business of being human. Of celebrating, acknowledging and understanding what it means to be human, of giving you the tools to be aware of how incredible it is to have a whole range of emotions and to learn how to harness those that serve you most – whether that’s using your anger to drive you towards solutions that work better, using your fear to show you what you want the most, or being loving instead of being right.

 

Like many people, I don’t want to bring my whole self to work, I want to keep some of that just for me, just for my family, but what I do want to bring is my humanity. If happiness arrives as a result then great, but beyond the transitory experiences of my emotions lay a sense of purpose that is worth far more. It is that which brings change into the world, it is that which gets me out of bed, it is that which means I don’t need to be part of the happiness gang, I can simply be myself and enjoy the business of being human, whatever that brings.

 

Nova’s Top Tips for Remaining Human

1. You are not required to be anymore than you are already – for increased levels of joy, just be more of you, more of the time.

2. Other people aren’t there to measure yourself against, they are there for you to know yourself better by knowing who you are in light of your relationship with them – connect, fall in love a little, laugh.

3. Where you are right now is not wrong, behind, bad, stupid or a failing of any kind. Your journey is as unique as you are; and the story hasn’t ended yet. Let it play out a little longer, watch, observe, understand. Then, every morning, try in your head to write the next page just as you would wish it to be.

4. Notice things, anything you like. Notice the leaves, the car fumes, the pain, the love. Now notice that what you noticed is having an effect on what you are now thinking about… choose wisely.

 

Nova Woodrow is our General Manager here at PUSH, she is also a Psychotherapist, Coach and Strategist who has worked with hundreds of businesses over the last 20 years to develop a clear and workable business plan for the future. She specialises in supporting and advising companies on increasing psychological resilience, creativity, productivity, motivation and confidence. Nova will be sharing more insights like these on the PUSH blog. We hope you find them useful and if you want to find out more please get in touch.

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Why Every Company Needs Mental Health First Aiders

We would rather not have to make use of the services of the company first aider. Much like we’d rather not have to make use of the fire extinguisher in the corner or the defibrillator on the wall. But we know they are there if we need them and, employers and employees alike, recognise the reassurance such things offer.

Today is World Mental Health Day, a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against the social stigma of mental health. It shines a light on the growing numbers of people around the world suffering from mental health problems, which are as debilitating as physical ailments. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is suicide prevention.

A key way employers can support the mental health of their people is to have trained Mental Health First Aiders alongside physical ones. It’s not a nice-to-have but essential if employees are to feel the same reassurances about their mental health at work as they do their physical health.

According to Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, mental ill health costs UK employers £34.9 billion each year. Around 15.4 million working days are lost due to work-related stress anxiety and depression each year. There have been no shortage of headline statistics to demonstrate to the world of business the importance of good mental health to productivity and performance but many organisations are still failing to put in place the safeguards and support that many employees need.

There is no doubt the subject is moving up the agenda, including the political one. In a new policy approved at its recent Autumn Conference, the Liberal Democrats’ party pledged to provide mental health first aid training in all health and care settings. Meanwhile, a number of the party’s MPs also took the opportunity to pledge their support for the MHFA’s “Where’s Your Head At?” Workplace Manifesto, a mission statement for a mentally healthier working world in which everyone has access to both mental and physical first aid.

PUSH was one of those invited to the Houses of Parliament to support the campaign last year and we are delighted that momentum is building behind it but there is still a long way to go, read more about our visit to Parliament here.

Three reasons why you should have a Mental Health First Aider in your workplace

  1. More than 15,000 organisations have already trained staff in MHFA courses.  The figure is growing and a Mental Health First Aider is increasingly seen as a workplace essential.
  2. It makes sound business sense. Mental ill health costs billions to UK businesses every year, impacting productivity and performance. A Mental Health First Aider can help to protect the business by minimising the impact of mental health issues.
  3. It helps to bring about true and long-lasting culture change around the subject, breaking down barriers and stigmas that have existed for years. An open culture around mental health in the workplace is key to good mental health for the entire business in the long-term.

What will the course bring to your organisation? 

The course aims to give people the tools to keep themselves and their colleagues healthy and encourage people to access support as soon as it is needed which hopefully leads to a faster recovery. It also empowers those with long-term mental health issues or disability to thrive in work. Crucially, the training seeks to help build an open culture around mental health and embed positive and long-term cultural change across the organisation.

Among the key learnings that people will come away with are:

  • An in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing
  • Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
  • Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
  • Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
  • Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support – whether that’s self-help resources, through their employer, the NHS, or a mix.

PUSH recognises that this area is still much misunderstood so we cover all of the basics from what is mental heath to the stigma and discrimination that still surrounds it right up to first aid for suicide crisis and warning signs of developing psychosis. We also cover conditions such as eating disorders, self-harming, as well as alcohol, drugs and anxiety disorders and much more. In such a discussion, no stone must be left unturned.

Attendees comes away with a MHFA manual to refer to whenever they need it; a wallet-sized reference card for the Mental Health First Aider action plan as well as other practical resources. They also receive a certificate to say they are a Mental Health First Aider.

So on this incredibly important day, let’s pledge to work together to ensure we look after our people and ourselves.

PUSH run Mental Health First Aid Training and we are offering 20% off our two-day designated mental health first aiders training courses in support of World Mental Health Day – please get in touch to find out more.

 

5 Team Performance Insights That All CEOs Need To Know

Putting people first: The simple answer to a complex problem. PUSH was among those leading the discussion on how we can work better at the recent Getahead Festival in London.

The Getahead Festival, which took place on Friday 14 June in London, is on a mission to help a billion people positively impact their lives in the next 25 years. This absolutely chimes with PUSH’s objective: “To make sure that no one ever feels like they are just existing, or that they dread work”, so we were delighted to be Getahead Festival’s official Work Better partner this year.

We assembled a panel of some of the best minds across mental health and wellbeing, people management, diversity and inclusion and technology to answer an extremely important and pressing question: How Do We Work Better?

We are working more hours than ever but UK productivity continues to lag behind that of the other G7 nations. The country has also seen a 40 per cent increase in mental ill-health over the past 20 years which undoubtedly has an impact in areas such as absenteeism and performance. The figures show that something clearly isn’t working and this situation cannot prevail much longer.

Our panel put forward a vast range of views pertinent to this discussion, including: is tech slowing us down rather than speeding us up?; are we using the right language around mental health?; and would working less hours actually make us more productive?

We came to a number of conclusions but there was one overriding message: putting people first makes them happier and more productive. Based on our discussions, we’ve put together 5 team performance insights that all CEOs need to know to ensure their teams work better.

 

  1. Use Culture To Turn Human Vulnerability Into Strength

Culture has moved up the corporate agenda but few CEOs have truly grasped the important part it can play in keeping workforces healthy and happy as well as more productive. We need to create inclusive, diverse, nurturing and supportive company cultures that make people want to come to work and do their jobs well.

A positive and open culture also means that if they do feel under pressure at work, or have external factors placing a strain on them, they won’t feel this is seen as a weakness. They are more likely to tell their boss which gives everyone options and the chance to improve the situation rather than make it worse.

The right culture can help to turn human vulnerabilities into a positive because it enables us all to learn from experience and adversity and push forward rather than fall back.

 

  1. Make Technology An Enabler 

We’ve allowed technology to create an out-of-control, always-on, 24/7 workplace that is detrimental to our wellbeing and a drain on time and energy. On average we send 200 emails a day and download six times’ more information than we did years ago. How can this equal efficiency and increased productivity? And if we haven’t even learned to manage our inboxes effectively, what hope is there when technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and robotics enter the workforce, bringing more data and information?

We need to take back control of technology and use it as it was originally intended: as an enabler that frees up employees to add more value at work and therefore feel more fulfilled. This means instead of mapping old ways of working onto new tech, flip the approach, and consider how a  new system or piece of software can create a new, better way of working.

 

  1. Learn From Mother Nature And Build An Ecosystem

In nature, an ecosystem is a community of organisms and their environment which all have a relationship with each other (often a complex one). A tree sends distress signals when it experiences disease or drought and in turn, surrounding trees send water and nutrients via their network of roots. They work together as a single system and their individual actions and interactions help them to survive and thrive. In the same way, teams of people in the workplace benefit from being part of an ecosystem.

Working together as a whole, the ecosystem can help to create an environment in which everyone can flourish. Such an approach makes individuals feel like they are contributing and collaborating to something bigger as well as being supported to achieve their own goals. It encourages them to not only be themselves but also to bring their whole selves to work in the ecosystem. This has an extremely positive impact on both wellness and productivity.

In short, the value of an ecosystem in terms of improved performance and can be worth far more than the sum of its parts.

 

  1. Innovate And Challenge Workplace Norms Like The 9-5

The pressure on day-to-day operations mean that many leaders find it difficult to think differently about how they structure the workplace and the working day. As a consequence, although far more people are working remotely or at home, most of us remain largely in the confines of a 9-5, five days a week role.

Those who have invested time in re-imagining the workplace have seen it pay off though. For instance, one of the PUSH panel speakers found that moving to a four-day week has increased engagement at work and has meant people have the time to use their weekends for achieving goals outside of work. This is hugely fulfilling personally and has a positive impact on mental health. It also means they return to the workplace after the weekend feeling more energised to do their job.

Allowing individuals more control over their working hours can also provide wellness and performance benefits. Working in the evening may better suit an individual for a raft of reasons. Any change needs to be well thought through though. If you know someone is working non-standard hours, managers can’t expect them to be available at other times any more than they would a 9-5 worker to be available for a call in the evening.

 

  1. Take Responsibility For Your Individual Impact 

Decision-makers undeniably influence an organisation, but what can be overlooked is simply that each person makes a difference. “Leadership is not top down. It’s within us all as individuals.” one of the PUSH panelists stated. 

How then, do you become an everyday leader and take responsibility for your impact on the team? First, it’s important to understand that leadership always starts with leading yourself first, and to lead yourself, you must learn how best to do so. Key questions you could ask are: when are you your most efficient? Do you spend your energy in the right places? What holds you back? How can you overcome your challenges? How much attention do you pay to crafting your skill set? When you master leading yourself, confidence follows. 

The second layer, is realising that how you feel has a direct impact on the way you work, the way those around you feel and your daily interactions. By taking agency over which version of yourself you bring to work everyday, you can be empowered to make decisions and take the lead. It’s time to step into your influence. 

 

Getting your team to work at their best is a challenge all CEOs face. There’s no one-size-fits-all or easy route to putting your people first, but we can help. Get in touch to talk about how together, we can improve the performance of your team.

 

Are You Geared Up For Working In The 21st Century?

Would a 4-day working week make you more productive? Is tech speeding us up or slowing us down? Are you using the right language around mental health and inclusivity in the workplace? How do we actually work better?

 

These are the questions we are answering at the world’s first 24-hour festival of the mind, Getahead, on Friday 14 June! Keep reading to find out more and use our code for £5 tickets.

 

People are burning out sooner, and younger. Getahead’s co-founder Dan Kirby, knows this all too well which is why he teamed up with Jenni Cochrane in 2018 to found Getahead: a not-for-profit initiative with a 25 year mission to help a billion people ‘get ahead without burning out’. This year, PUSH is the official Getahead Festival WORK BETTER partner, hosting inspiring talks and a thought provoking panel discussion, asking: How Do We Work Better?

 

When and where will Getahead take place?

 

On Friday 14 June from 6am to 6am (it’s up to you how long you stay!), two incredible venues, Omeara and The Ministry near London Bridge are host to world-class speakers, workshops, panels, fitness sessions, complimentary massages and delicious food against a backdrop of incredible music and like minded people.

 

What will our WORK BETTER panel discuss?

 

The panel will discuss some of the fundamental topics facing businesses today, including whether a 4-day week is the answer to our modern world of work, as well as the impact of AI, and how we support workplace mental health and inclusion. Most importantly we want to find out how we can create people-first cultures.

 

Undoubtedly, the way we work plays an insurmountable role in the way we live, our stress levels and risk of mental health issues. For this reason, PUSH have curated a panel of experts focused on solutions.

 

Who will be on our WORK BETTER panel?

 

We have brought together some of the most brilliant minds across tech, mental health, people-first cultures and inclusion & diversity to have an open and honest discussion about people, teams and companies improving the way we work.

 

Our panelists include; Tom Head, the Co-owner and Sales & Marketing Director of one of the Top 100 Digital Agencies in the UK, Lab. Lab is also one of the first London agencies to break convention and cut a day from the working week, taking their staff down to 4 days. Tom will be discussing whether a 4-day week is the answer to our modern world of work.

 

Adah Parris is a TED 2019 Emerging Innovator, Futurist, Cultural Innovator, Board Advisor, Keynote Speaker and Coach, and in 2018 was recognised as one of the Top 100 BAME Leaders in Tech. Adah will be discussing how we can be more human in a world of AI and improve how we work.

 

Anita Caras is the Insight Director at Verizon Media and is now using her industry voice to advocate for inclusion and diversity in the workplace. She is Verizon Media’s EMEA lead for the Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN); a voluntary organisation that champions women’s leadership and advancement. Anita will be discussing how inclusive cultures help us thrive at work.

 

Paul McGregor is a mental health speaker and author who’s looking to normalise the conversation around mental health. He shares his personal experiences with mental health, and his work has been featured on Sky News, BBC, The Huffington Post and more. A serial entrepreneur, at 19 he started an online fashion business and also has guest lectured at The London College of Fashion since the age of 21. Paul will be discussing whether vulnerability around mental health affects productivity in the workplace.

 

The panel will be hosted by our Founder, Cate Murden, who herself had been signed off with stress after a 15 year long career in Media and having started PUSH, understands the fundamental challenges that companies and people face in avoiding burnout and working better.

 

When do the PUSH sessions take place?

 

07.00am: On Friday 14 June, our day begins at Omeara with a Breakfast Networking complete with orange juice and pastries before the first talk of the day.

 

09.45am: Our Founder Cate Murden’s talk on ‘Building Resilience in the 21st Century’ in which we’ll face stress head on and will explore how we can build resilience, motivation and happiness, put ourselves first and be empowered to live a better life!

 

10.30am: The PUSH ‘How Do We Work Better?’ panel with Tom Head, Adah Parris, Anita Caras and Paul McGregor, hosted by Cate Murden.

 

13.00pm: We then head over to The Ministry where PUSH are proud to present three incredibly inspiring talks. Chevy Rough’s talk at 13:00pm on ‘’Whole Body Living’, will help you understand how to reduce stress and increase motivation, utilising 20 years of experience combining fitness, running, life and career coaching.

 

14.00pm: Le’Nise Brothers’ is on stage next with her ‘Build Your Resilience With Your Diet’ talk and Nutrition Q&A, talking you through the role nutrition has on mental wellbeing and all the foods that can help boost your resilience as well as answering your nutrition questions.

 

15.00pm: Anthony Astbury and Scott McArthur will be talking about the Whole Man Academy initiative which offers an informal environment in which men from all walks of life can come together to share their experiences.

 

Visit the Getahead website for the full schedule and get in touch with us for more information on our WORK BETTER activities.

 

Why should you come?

 

Our mission as the official WORK BETTER partner for Getahead Festival is simple. To help you find ways of working better, avoiding burnout and living a genuinely better life by sharing invaluable information from our world class experts. So, bring your colleague, or your team and let’s #WorkBetter together.

 

Get your discounted ticket with PUSH:

Use code PUSH24 for your £5 ticket or book via the direct link for Getahead Festival on Friday 14 June!

Introducing… The PUSH Employee Assistance Programme

We believe that in order to create genuine change and get people living and working better, we need to see past the ‘symptoms’, and get to the causes themselves. Otherwise you simply paper over the cracks. We realise that not everyone can get the help they need and this is why we are excited to introduce our new initiative for May… the PUSH Employee Assistance Programme – free sessions with our expert Coaches for whoever, wherever you may be.

 

As some of you might know, we were heartbroken after the tragic news of Mike Thalassitis death by suicide in March. So much so, that we decided to take action to support what we stand for, and offered free psychotherapy sessions at the PUSH Offices throughout the month of April; providing the space to talk and think for anyone that needed it.

 

Well, for May we don’t want to stop. In fact, we want to do even more. So, we have decided to offer our very own PUSH Employee Assistance Programme, offering expert advice from the amazing PUSH Coaches to anyone who needs it – wherever they might be.

 

Why are we doing this?

 

At the heart of our mission, we want to get people living and working better.

 

We are really proud to work with organisations who want to help their people be the best versions of themselves possible. We do so by creating and executing bespoke programmes with our incredible PUSH Coaches, to help people work better. There’s no doubt that we are in a very fortunate position – we have access to a large network of highly skilled experts in the fields of mental health, stress, leadership, nutrition and more. Which is why we feel it’s important and part of our purpose to give back, and to really fulfil our mission at PUSH – by offering free sessions to people who otherwise might not have access, during Mental Health Awareness Week.

 

If we can play a small part in helping somebody feel better, we’re carrying out our mission and putting our purpose into action.

 

What is the PUSH EAP and when will it be available?

 

The PUSH Employee Assistance Programme is a free service, offering 30 minute sessions with experts in the fields of mental health, stress, leadership, nutrition and more. The service will be available during Mental Health Awareness week from the 13th to 17th May 2019.

 

Anyone, anywhere will be able to get in touch with the PUSH Team via email and request a session for advice on whatever it is that’s impacting their mental health. We aim to respond within 48 hours to arrange a session with one of our expert PUSH Talent.

 

What areas of life and work can the PUSH EAP help with?

  • Mental health issues
  • Nutrition
  • Women’s health
  • Financial coaching
  • Healing
  • Life coaching
  • Business coaching
  • Sleep
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • EFT
  • Leadership
  • Awkward conversations
  • Personal development
  • Fitness and movement to improve your wellbeing

 

What the PUSH EAP can’t help with:

If you need something more urgently, then here are a selection of phone services that provide free emotional support. Please do contact them if you need to talk – they’re completely confidential:

 

Samaritans Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)

Email: jo@samaritans.org

Provides confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face.

 

CALM

Telephone London: 0808 802 58 58 (open 7 days a week, 5pm to midnight)
Telephone Nationwide: 0800 58 58 58 (open 7 days a week, 5pm to midnight)
Webchat (open 7 days a week, 5pm to midnight)

 

Mind Infoline
Telephone: 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Monday to Friday)
Email: info@mind.org.uk

Mind provides confidential mental health information services.
With support and understanding, Mind enables people to make informed choices. The Infoline gives information on types of mental distress, where to get help, drug treatments, alternative therapies and advocacy. Mind has around 140 local Minds providing local mental health services.

 

Initiatives like the PUSH Employee Assistance Programme keep us true to our values and grounded in what matters to us most. The PUSH EAP is available from the 13th – 17th May during Mental Health Awareness Week to help those that otherwise might not have access to expert support. Get in touch with us by emailing PUSH_EAP@pushmindandbody.com to book your free session with one of our expert PUSH coaches on whatever it is that’s impacting your mental health.

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