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Tips and stories to add value to you and your organisation


Productivity And Mental Health

29 June 2020

Here’s a conundrum for us to consider…

Most people would agree that good mental health is a key part of employee welfare.

Most people would agree that a healthy workforce is a productive workforce.

So, here’s my puzzle. If these two statements are true, how come so many businesses don’t budget much, if any money, for coaching, counselling, or welfare programmes? And if they do, then cut them back in a crisis, when people are the most stressed?

When was the last time your organisation even had a meeting to focus on mental health and welfare?

I’m not talking about a line item in an HR review, I mean a proper meeting between senior operations leaders, to discuss the causes of stress and find ways to mitigate it.

Training a few mental health first aiders is a great start and yet will not solve any structural problems.

If an organisational process is busted it doesn’t matter how many sticking plasters we give people, the stress is still there.

Better to fix the process, or so you’d think.

And yet people often ignore the effect that complex procedures and petty administrative rules have on people.

They have a habit of grinding away at us, bit by bit. They sap our autonomy and can make us feel like children in school, ordered about with no power to speak up.

We can ask people how they feel, but let’s be honest. Would you tell HR or your boss just how fed up you were and risk being thought of as ‘not a team player’?

‘Hi Richard, I’m about to complete your appraisal. How are you finding things here?’

‘Well Boss, your processes are wasteful, I’m not allowed to buy a pencil without you agreeing to it, the leadership are clueless and bitchy and the workload is off the scale. I don’t sleep so well now and my blood pressure is higher than Mount Everest.’

‘Wow, that’s super feedback Richard. You’re definitely not going to be penalised for it. No way. No. No. No. However, we do need to make sure we only have team players here…’

Mental health is a serious issue. Just because we can’t see inside our heads doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Companies have to install machine guarding equipment, PPE and defined walkways and so on. What do they really do about improving mental health? What do they do to remove irritations and stress loading?

Often very little.

‘We don’t have any budget for that.’

‘We are too busy fighting fires for that.’

‘We sorted all that out last year.’

‘We’ve already been on a course.’

These are some of the pushbacks I get when talking to prospective clients about coaching, counselling and mental health support activities. An organisation would often rather pay for someone to be off sick than invest in preventative measures. They will budget for a new car for the MD before they budget for mental health work.

So this week, we can all take a look at our business budget. I know times are tough and yet if now isn’t the time to invest in the mental health of our workforce, when is?

Please really care for people. They need it. And your profit line benefits from it too.

Keep well.

Next week: Goodwill Counts

How To Keep Going!

22 June 2020

It seems that lots of people have done the ‘couch to 5k’ thing. They start on the couch and end up being able to run a bit. Good for them.

In the UK we really should call it ‘sofa to some distance’ …given how we buy sofas and like a more relaxed approach to targets.

In my case, and I’m sure I’ve said this before, I’m still at the sofa stage. I’m doing really well at that too, my sofa app tells me I’m really making progress and have almost mastered the sedentary phase of the training. Stage two is advanced faffing. I have some experience here and am looking forward to learning more about procrastination. Maybe the day after tomorrow.

However, running for fitness is all well and good, but what of business?

I’m struck that we don’t seem to have a ‘recession to success’ app. One that sets clear milestones, allows us to share our daily achievements and be celebrated for keeping going.

We work largely in isolation and have no real idea of what other people are doing. We all reinvent the wheel for ourselves without being able to compare and contrast what others are doing.

Luckily, as I work as a business coach, I’m able to support my clients and share best practice. It amazes me how many people don’t hire a coach and instead tough it out on their own.

The race to survive is about creativity, clear thinking and application. Easy words to write and yet so difficult to make happen on our own.

We are bound by our own limitations and fears. We often don’t even know we have them, which is where a good coach can be invaluable.

A small expense on a coach could be the difference that enables us to stay in business. Doing it on our own is like doing couch to 5k without the app, without any guidance and without any form of new input.

Who would do that?

So, if you want to keep going here are three tips:

1. Work harder than you ever have before. Sustained effort will bring rewards, as competitors fall by the wayside.

2. Be creative. I’m realising now that I’m hired for my creativity. Without a solid creative input we are likely to miss opportunities and just tweak things, without ever changing much.

3. Get help. External views, ideas and encouragement bring energy into our business.

Whatever we do we need to change it up and do new things in new ways with new people.

We can all find our way, which in my case might be off the sofa and out for a run. Perhaps the day after tomorrow…

Keep well and keep going!

Next week: Productivity and mental health


Click cover to view details on Amazon


Riding the Rocket

How to manage your Modern Career

Published 2013 Marshall Cavendish



Bouncing Back

How to get going again after a career setback

Published 2012 Marshall Cavendish



How to Keep Your Job

Brilliant ways to increase performance, stay employed and keep the money rolling in

Published 2011 Marshall Cavendish



Job Hunting 3.0

Secrets and skills to sell yourself effectively in the Modern Age

Published 2010 Marshall Cavendish



Leave the Bastards Behind

An insider's guide to working for yourself

Published 2007 Cyan Books and Marshall Cavendish



My Boss is a Bastard

Surviving turmoil at work

Published 2006 Cyan Books and Marshall Cavendish


© Richard Maun 2015 / Click here to contact