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Worklife-balanceSymposium Events organised another successful event on the topic of workplace stress and wellbeing on Thursday 27th November.

Through a series of 30 minute presentations, speakers invited us to explore topics such as mindfulness, developing staff resilience, managing absence and return to work, opening the dialogue about mental health and suggestions to improve wellbeing on a shoestring.

The knowledge share sessions were great opportunities to get the discussion started on our tables, looking at top tips to establish a successful healthy working agenda and what we think the future holds for workplace wellbeing.

Teaching staff members practical techniques and tips to build resilience and manage work stress being my area of work, I was particularly interested in hearing the speakers’ experience and input on this topic and the advice they could give HR managers to develop their very own wellbeing strategy in their business.

This article is a succinct review of the event as I experienced it and remarks that I noted throughout the day.

Tim Jackson, Head of Marketing Strategy for UNUM, was first to speak and explained that it costs on average about £30 614 to replace a member of staff, a figure that generally catches the board’s attention and opens the dialogue about finding ways to improve staff retention. Through a study carried out by UNUM, Tim demonstrated that wellbeing support was considered important for 69% of the staff questioned, as important as having inspiring leaders and 30% would leave the company is they felt that their wellbeing was not supported. This shows that wellbeing is a highly important component of staff retention within the business and highlights once again that staff wellbeing must be addressed to ensure the business’s success and longevity.

Throughout the speakers’ presentation, it became very clear that one aspect could determine the success or failure of a wellbeing strategy and that is communication. On several occasions, the point was made that no matter how much a business spends on wellbeing or how good its wellbeing strategy is, if it does not communicate about it (or communicates badly), it wipes out all value from the investment and the strategy is bound to fail.

Elsa Belugou, HR Consultant Health & Wellbeing at Telefónica UK, demonstrated the value of effective communication within their business and using different types of media to reach everyone within the business including blog posts, videos, social media networks, etc. She added that the key is to get the basics right from the start, establishing a clear strategy including set goals and ways to measure its impact and getting the leadership’s buy in.

Monika Misra’s presentation (Commercial & Support Functions EHS Business Lead and Medical Director at GSK) was more practical, focusing on their decision to deploy a 16-week online mindfulness programme throughout their offices to support employee wellbeing, developing resilience and helping them manage their stress efficiently. We had the opportunity to experience a mindful minute focusing on our breath to illustrate employees’ need to have short but regular recovery times during the day to restore energy levels and improve focus. Monika knows the importance of building resilience and taking action before people experience strain and stop being productive.

Amy Armstrong, Research Fellow at Ashridge, followed up on the topic of resilience and clarified the difference between resilience and stress management, resilience being proactive and stress management being reactive and the importance of developing both skills in employees to improve their overall sense of wellbeing. Amy talked us through our personal resources to build our own resilience which include our quality of sleep, diet, exercise routine, learning ability as well as our home and work support network. All topics that can be part of a business’ wellbeing agenda.

As a summary of the event and from the suggestions heard following the knowledge share sessions, some top tips to establish a successful healthy working agenda were highlighted:

  • Research and studying staff’s current wellbeing needs to draw up the strategy
  • Communicate consistently, clearly and effectively
  • Engage all lines of hierarchy, having the managers lead by example
  • Encourage employees’ self responsibility when it comes to taking charge of their own wellbeing. The business offers and facilitates support but it is the employee’s responsibility to take action.
  • Introduce wellbeing as one of the business’s values and slowly developing a wellbeing culture throughout the business, making it part of managers’ development training.

Symposium Events will be organising another must-attend event for HR professionals in June 2015 entitled Health@Work. If you would like to dig further into the topic of stress and mental health in the workplace, make sure you put the date in your diary as soon as it is published.

If you are looking at running sessions for your staff that will equip them with practical tools to manage their stress and develop their resilience, get in touch with me to discuss how Sophrology sessions could fit your needs and book discovery sessions or workshops


Marion Beauregard is a Sophrology practitioner based in London. With a background in office work and a specialisation in stress, sleep and burnout, she works in partnership with businesses in the UK and in France to help improve staff’s health and wellbeing through tailored effective stress management programmes.

Marion’s approach is highly experiential, providing people with techniques that they can easily re-use at home and at work. The focus on practice over theory aims to integrate techniques at a deeper level and help people quickly and effectively access their natural ability to feel calm, relaxed and positive.

Marion has a particular interest in burnout prevention, burnout recovery and return to work post burnout.

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