Good stress versus bad stress – where do you stand?

good stress and bad stress at work

Photo courtesy of Helga Weber(CC No Derivatives)

We’ve talked a lot about well-being at work in other blogs, and have identified stress as one of the major contributors when it comes to mental health issues and burn-out. But stress isn’t all bad is it? Some people think a bit of stress can actually be good for your health and wellbeing. Others – particularly leaders- are reluctant to acknowledge stress even exists in their organistion.

By |March 13th, 2017|change management|Comments Off on Good stress versus bad stress – where do you stand?

A little more conversation needed around mental health urges IoD

institute of directors and mental health

Photo courtesy of A Health Blog(CC ShareALike)

As the Elvis song almost said, ‘A little more conversation’ is the title of the latest report released by the Institute of Directors’ (IOS) today (2 March 2017).

By |March 6th, 2017|change management|Comments Off on A little more conversation needed around mental health urges IoD

Lack of women at Northern Powerhouse shows attitude towards females needs changing

uk northern powerhouse conference 2017 manchester

‘It’s lass war!’ screamed one of the headlines as the line-up for the Northern Powerhouse Annual Conference and Exhibition 2017 revealed there were no females on the list of 15 main advertised speakers. Clever as the sub-editor’s way with words is, it reveals a serious problem behind the headline – female representation is still miles away from where it should be when it comes to business and organisations.

That’s not to say there weren’t some women on the bill. 13 out of 98 were female in total, but that’s clearly way short. Some of the women actually speaking were left off the official press release even though they were among the region’s most influential ladies. Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, and children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, to name two, weren’t deemed worthy of inclusion.

Another council chief exec, Wigan’s Donna Hall, wasn’t even invited to attend despite being recently named as the north of England’s most transformational female leader.

But the issue goes deeper than just an organisation’s annual conference. According to the Fawcett Society, only 28% of senior leadership roles in the Northern Powerhouse are female.

To some, this might sound like gender politics, but the reality is that the conference didn’t reflect the gender balance of the region. Neither does only having just over a quarter of females filling senior leadership roles. The whole point of the Northern Powerhouse is to encourage diverse thinking rather than just listening to the thoughts of one group or narrow opinion.

Having both a male and female point of view within […]

By |February 27th, 2017|change management|Comments Off on Lack of women at Northern Powerhouse shows attitude towards females needs changing

Universal Credit – what are you doing differently?

There’s a major shake-up on the way as Universal Credit is set to be rolled out nationally by the end of 2018. If you’re involved with a housing association, the changes are going to affect you as much as your social tenants, so it’s time to ask yourself ‘What are you doing differently?’

By |February 22nd, 2017|change management|Comments Off on Universal Credit – what are you doing differently?
  • Universal Credit and Change [white paper] Universal Credit and Change [white paper]

    Universal Credit and Change [white paper]

Universal Credit and Change [white paper]

According to the Office for National Statistics, over one quarter of a million people were claiming Universal Credit as part of a trial in April 2016 in different areas of the country, with varying degrees of success. This number is growing all the time with the benefit due to be rolled out to more and more areas throughout 2017 and 2018.


This white paper will explore what housing organisations and associations need to think about around the Universal Credit changes coming into effect over the next twelve months. Initially, only England, Scotland and Wales will be affected with Northern Ireland set to follow shortly afterwards. It represents the biggest change to welfare policy in the last 40 years and is a huge change for those administering it, as well as those affected. 

By |February 17th, 2017|change management|Comments Off on Universal Credit and Change [white paper]

Manage expectations properly with tiny ripples

is trump failing to manage expectations

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey(CC ShareALike)

OK – we’re going to talk about a certain president across the pond who’s making huge tidal waves, never mind ripples, in his country. We’re not going to mention his politics, but simply use him and his way of doing things as an example of managing expectations – both good and bad.

When you’re managing people, be it in a relatively small organisation or in charge of the world’s most-powerful country, how you approach things should be the same so you don’t create ripples in the previously smooth water. You might not instantly get the metaphor, but the problem with ripples is that they spread from their source all the way to the shore whether they’re in a puddle, pond, lake or ocean. Manage expectations poorly and ripples of discontent will work their through your entire organisation quickly, which isn’t good for anyone.

Being clear is key. People thrive on clarity. They need to understand what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. Think about President Trump here – he’s done exactly what he said he would, so he’s ticked that particular managing expectations box. What he’s done wrong (ethics and morality aside) is to blunder headlong into his actions without fully understanding them.

This is a classic case of not managing expectations properly. Before you start doing something, have you considered how it should be done properly? Are the right people in place? Is the infrastructure good enough? What are […]

By |February 1st, 2017|change management, news|Comments Off on Manage expectations properly with tiny ripples

Bouncing back is about more than beating Blue Monday

In case you’ve been asleep last week or have just landed on Earth from a galaxy far beyond the stars, you’ll have heard the term ‘Blue Monday’ being bandied about a lot, especially within organisations. It’s apparently the most depressing day of the year, when Christmas and New Year have passed, everyone’s broke and there isn’t much to look forward too. There’s no science behind this though – the expression was actually coined by a holiday company over 10 years ago.

And while talking about depression in the workplace is a good thing (see last week’s blog post), for many people the feelings we’re all meant to experience on this one day of the year are a reality almost all of the time. It’s Blue every day for them.

They can’t just read the tabloid tips to make you feel better most of the articles around Blue Monday carried. Some are relevant, but it takes a bit more than simply smiling at a work colleague to help them beat the blues. Being nice is always great, but to truly bounce back from mental health issues and feelings of stress, employees really need to learn how to be resilient.

Being resilient means being able to cope with failure – and even learn from it – and turn negative situations into positives. It’s about being able to interpret situations in a […]

By |January 23rd, 2017|change management|Comments Off on Bouncing back is about more than beating Blue Monday

Addressing mental health should be part of every organisation’s culture

Addressing mental health should be part of every organisation’s culture

Photo courtesy of A Health Blog(CC ShareALike)

Obviously this subject is a hot topic at the moment. You only need a swift skim of the papers, perfunctory peek of the internet or to keep half an ear on the radio for a few minutes, before you’re presented with a story about mental health, and how the attitude around it needs to change.

But while it might seem like the latest issue to be under the spotlight, it’s not. Mental ill-health was the third highest reason for work absences among non-manual employees in 2015, according to the CIPD Absence Management Survey. And as far back as 2007, the Sainsbury Centre for ill Health estimated the total cost to the UK taxpayer of mental ill health as £25.9bn a year, so it’s a problem that’s faced organisations for a good while.

The figures are pretty stark, and you can see why addressing mental health should be part of every organisation’s culture. It’s something that often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. People sometimes suffer in silence before being forced to take time off. And many managers and HR professionals fail to notice the tell-tale signs that someone’s starting to suffer from mental ill-health.

Spotting problems and nipping them in the bud could save your organisation a hefty sum. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) believes this sum could be around £8bn across the UK workforce. NICE also says one of the […]

By |January 12th, 2017|change management|Comments Off on Addressing mental health should be part of every organisation’s culture

Closing the #genderpaygap needs a major culture change

We’ve spoken about the gender pay gap in a previous blog not so long ago, but this prickly subject has reared its ugly head again, with almost every major news outlet reporting the latest figures.

These figures make grim reading, especially if you’re female and working. Research published by the Resolution Foundation shows women are continuing to earn significantly less than their male counterparts, with the gap peaking at around 9% as they enter their thirties. And as women progress through the next few decades, their salaries will tend to plateau while male workers typically experience income growth.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The current millennial working generation (those born between 1981 and 2000) are closing the gap to around 5% in their twenties compared to the 16% their baby boomer parents faced before they hit the 9% mentioned above (female baby boomers typically experienced a 34% difference in their forties).

The reasons usually given for these pay gaps is having children. Baby boomer women born between 1945 and 1965 took maternity leave to look after their kids and would often return part-time, if at all, meaning they’d miss out on promotions or pay rises given to their husbands and partners. It was a choice between work and raising a family. Employers favoured men over women too for positions of importance as they’d be far less likely to take time off for long periods of childcare.

By |January 9th, 2017|change management|Comments Off on Closing the #genderpaygap needs a major culture change

Don’t be the emperor with new clothes

the emperor's new clothes

Photo courtesy of dalbera(CC Attribution)

As it’s panto season – oh no it isn’t – we’re going to start this blog by talking about a popular 19th Century tale that makes great pantomime but isn’t often performed in this format. That story is The Emperor’s New Clothes.

You’re all familiar with the Danish short story written by Hans Christian Anderson, where a vain emperor rides naked on horseback through the streets believing he’s wearing clothes so fine only those of a suitable stature can see them. The gathered throng can all see he’s not got a stitch on, but they’re too scared to say; no one wants to appear stupid. Only once a child pipes up with the truth does the rest of the crowd agree.

The story is a fairy tale of course, but its themes apply to business and organisations, particularly when thinking about change. If you don’t do it properly or don’t listen to the right people, you can quickly become the emperor in new clothes where people will just follow your changes because they have to. And when this happens, your changes and initiatives aren’t likely to land properly.

The concept of the emperor’s new clothes is used as a metaphor for anything seen as pretentious, pompous, hypocritical or ridiculous. It’s definitely not a compliment. And one of the places it happens the most is in the workplace. If workers feel they can’t speak out or aren’t involved in things, they’ll simply go along with it even though […]

By |December 21st, 2016|change management|Comments Off on Don’t be the emperor with new clothes