Leadership and Management Development, Stress management

Physical Signs of Stress Part 2/2

This is part two of the poll for you to learn about the physical signs of stress and see how you compare with others. Part one looked at Skin, Heart, Muscles and Mental Health. We can thank the HSE site for providing details of the physical signs of stress at work.

This time in this poll we will look at metabolism, Digestive system and gut, the reproductive system and the immune system.


Digestive system and gut

I was surprised to this one from the HSE too but here is for you to compare in the poll.

Reproductive system

Immune system

Corporate support for wellbeing, Leadership and Management Development, Stress management

Physical Signs of Stress Poll Part 1 of 2

This is the poll for you to learn and see how you compare on physical signs of workplace stress.



Learn about how I help businesses embed better well-being practices in my project page. You can also ask me a question by getting in contact.

Corporate support for wellbeing, Health and safety, Healthy Eating, Mental Health and wellbeing, Physical activity, problematic use of alchohol at work, Stress management

London Healthy Workplace Charter Verifying

This week I’m performing my duties as a verifier for London Healthy Workplace Charter organised by Public Health England and Mayor of London’s office at City Hall. This is a really worthwhile event for any business owner, manager or workplace health champion to take part in developing good practice. Through this scheme organisations and institutes receive positive support and learning about how best to make their workplaces more healthy. There are three levels of attainment available which include:

  1. Showing commitment to healthy workplace
  2. Showing achievement in healthy workplace practices
  3. Showing excellence in healthy workplace

Within the London Healthy Workplace charter process we look holistically at each company/ organisation or institute especially at eight areas. This means that applicants to the charter award must show there is a supportive leadership, culture and communications around:

  1. Attendance Management
  2. Tobacco
  3. Problematic use of alcohol and other substances
  4. Mental health and well-being
  5. Physical activity
  6. Health and safety
  7. Corporate support for well-being
  8. Healthy eating

It is free to achieve and you might just need the funds for an external consultant to help you put your evidence together. But anyone that is interested in workplace well-being should try and gain the London Healthy Workplace Charter for their organisation.

If you have a question about getting help with the London Healthy Workplace Charter please get in contact.

I recently designed and made this infinity scarf out of two suiting fabrics.
Corporate Style, Dress, Employee well-being, Jackets, Organisation artefacts, Organisational Behaviour, Stress management, Workplace design

This infinity scarf I made helps me tell the story that I’m using the study below as a base to look at positive psychology and corporate dress especially the function of a women’s favourite boardroom jackets.

Follow if you work for an organisation whose cultural values insist on “The Corporate Look” and you want to take part in the on-line survey which is coming soon!

Taylor & Francis Online :: Personal Collections: Women’s clothing use and identity – Journal of Gender Studies – Volume 9, Issue 3.

Employee well-being, Stress management

How to Reduce Staff Absenteeism

Rewarding staff for not being absent is one new method of managing absenteeism. It is an example that Dame Sally Coates was said to preside over recently acording to a newspaper article. In her role as head teacher she thanked teachers who didn’t take days off sick with bottles of wine, chocolates and book tokens.

Teachers Were the Worst Truants at Toxic School


People tend to criticise this method as bribery. Some say that if you’re ill, you’re ill. Some say it is unfair because if you really are ill you wont even achieve the getting chocolates or other reward state.


My take on it is that we need to understand the context of the wine and chocolate giving. If Sally provided wine and chocolate as part of a considerate management style I think her novel methods are one of the ways forward.

Art and Design, Art Works for Wellbeing, Employee well-being, OD interventions, Stress management, Work and careers

Employability and Wellbeing

Here’s a fashionable image that I captured this week. I took it when I carried out a fruitful workshop for fashion management students who were about to go into their placement year. I used the Forum Theatre method to help them discuss and work through their hopes and fears about going into the workplace. I think it helped as they came up and thanked me and said they mentioned how positive the experience was for their tutor. The sessions were meant to help them prepare for difficult work scenarios that caused the most anxiety for new graduates.

I took this picture of the display in the college gallery while I rested on my way out. It also reminds me that artefacts and art galleries have a useful role for well-being at the end of working day. It was from sitting quietly from this vantage point that I was able to sit and take stock and shift focus then prepare to join the bands of hurried crushed commuters for the journey home. One day I’ll post a link to the research evidence that talks of corridors of well-being at the end of the day.


Post publication review, Research, Stress management, Using Psychological Research (Impact)

Very pleased to announce that an academic study I did with colleagues at London College of Fashion is now available on-line in an international journal. It seems to be of interest to academics and practitioners trying to understand an ageing workforce and older women’s perceptions of themselves and identities.

Interestingly when I analysed the interviews in more depth I noticed there was a link between using cosmetic products and a sense of individual well-being and that it was not only about of a look good factor.

This is the reference

Mair, C. Wade, G.  and Tamburic, D. (2015) “Older Women Want to Look Good Despite Media Pressure to Look Young” The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.1-10.  Published online: January 5, 2015

Here is the link to the journal

Employee well-being, Research, Stress management

Results from a Public Open Staff Well-being Audit

This is my last post on management learning and development futures gaining insight from spa land. I’ve just released the first part of an open public audit on staff well-being with respondents from around the world working in the spa sector.

Stress Factors

One of the main stress factors that came up, which leaders in the sector are responsible for controlling, was work intensiveness  (Demands). In my webinar to people interested in the findings of the study, I emphasised the importance of managers helping employees to find or design ways for less intensive working. Less intensive working can be achieved either through reducing the number of tasks within a given time frame, delegating some tasks to others or embarking on complete work redesign and taking a fresh look at job descriptions and person specifications. (download Power-point show HERE)

Surprising findings

A surprising element came up. Like other sectors, most respondents suffer from work related stress and even more interestingly …back ache. Interestingly those with work related stress were managers. And those with back ache were the practitioners.

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The Good News

The winning ways that team leaders seem to be doing for reducing staff stress is helping employees know how to go about getting their job done (Role) and fostering good relationships having colleagues that listen to me (relationships).

Interestingly the having colleagues that listened was more prevalent in some countries than others. But it wasn’t new news to find that relationships between colleagues were good as other studies have found this to be true of this sector.


But I’d set a warning not to be too complacent about spas being great places to work. My caveat is based on the unpublished studies that I’ve seen (MA and doctoral thesis) and expressed industry concerns about business failure and high staff turnover in this sector for the lack of leadership skills. This mini study has shown that there might be signs that understanding job role  and fostering good relationships might get staff through difficult times in the heat of the moment and so works for the short term. But whether just knowing how to do your role is enough to ameliorate the stresses brought on by the demands of the job or a perception of little control or not being informed about change is something that still needs to be looked at further.

Learning Needs Analysis

The management learning and development needs that I can see arising out of this study are centred on enriching:

  • Performance appraisal skills
  • Managing work loads
  • Well-being risk analysis
  • Setting smart goals
  • Job redesign
  • Healthy operations planning
  • L&D planning
  • Negotiation
  • Positive leadership
  • Stress reducing management styles

If you would like more information about the results please use the contact from below.

Employee well-being, Leadership and Management Development, Stress management

Jeremy McCarthy Explains Why Spa is Fountain of Innovation

Jeremy McCarthy the Group Director of Spa at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has kindly given permission for me to re-blog his recent LinkedIn Pulse article. I asked to re-blog this post because when you read right down to the end you’ll see how it’s an authentic account of what busy executives feel they get out of going to a spa and how it helps their business. Jeremy begins…

Spa as Fountain of Innovation


Jeremy McCarthy

” The way I’ve now evolved for me, massage is not a luxury . . . it’s actually where I am nourished. All of the sights, the smells, the sounds, the touch of your practitioner, when I melt into that table, that’s where my body is reenergized. But secondly, and more importantly for me, that sanctuary is where my artistic spirit soars. That’s where I come alive. That’s where I create my best ideas. That’s where I connect the dots. That’s where I’m able to relax and become a better husband, a better father, a better entrepreneur, and certainly a much better artist.

–Artist, Erik Wahl, at the ISPA Annual Conference 2014

I have a confession to make. In spite of spending most of my adult life working in spas; in spite of serving several years on the board of directors of the International Spa Association; and in spite of being a staunch advocate of the benefits of spa in my writing and speaking, I actually prefer shorter spa treatments.

To be fair, this is not so unusual. A quick poll of friends and acquaintances shows that the world can be easily divided into two camps: those who subscribe to the “more is better” approach to spa, and those who enjoy a quick break in the spa, but don’t want it to last too long.

But the reason for my lack of spa endurance might surprise you. It is not that my body can’t take the pampering . . . quite the contrary. The problem is with my mind. I get so many good ideas while I’m lying on the massage table that I can’t wait to run back to the locker room and write them all down. When a spa treatment lingers past the hour mark, and new ideas keep percolating, I start to worry that I will not be able to remember all the great insights I am having.

For me, the spa is not so much the “fountain of youth.” It is the fountain of innovation. The spa is a place where creativity springs forth, where the foundations of good decisions are laid, and where we are connected to our highest purpose and our deepest values. Contrary to popular belief, innovation does not come from brainstorming. It comes from a singular, still and rested mind.

The ironic thing about my proclivity for shorter spa treatments (followed by copious writing sessions) pertains to my new role as the Group Director of Spa for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. The Spas at Mandarin Oriental specialize in longer spa journeys. One of the most popular treatments, for example, is a two or three hour “Time Ritual” in which the guest simply commits to the time and shows up. The spa provides a luxurious spa suite appointed with all of the amenities one could hope for. Everything else is customized from there.

The reality is, I can get used to that. Spending more time with my muse is not necessarily a bad thing. I only need to figure out where to put my note pad while I’m on the massage table.

P.S. Earlier this year, our spas launched a new, shorter treatment (45 minutes) appropriately entitled “Calm Mind,” which is now one of my favorite ways to clear my head or get my creative juices flowing. If 45 minutes seems too short to you, then ask yourself these questions:

  • When is the last time you spent 45 minutes on personal wellbeing?
  • When is the last time you spent 45 minutes away from technology?
  • When is the last time you spent 45 minutes in silence?

Just like our bodies, our brains work better when they have time to rest and recover. Some people go to a spa to feel better. Some people go to a spa to look better. Me, I go to a spa to think better”…



Blog originally published on Linkedin Pulse 30th October 2014

If you want to follow Jeremy McCarthy his twitter handle is

I hope you agree that Jeremy’s account is insightful and didn’t deserve to be hidden in Linked In land. I think some of the learnings could be part of what helps explain why individuals self select spa services and activities as part of their own work rest and recovery. It certainly resonates with what I’ve noted from both my career paths. But his article also helps us to understand how spa treatments/ activities help individuals perform their daily work tasks much better. Those nebulous cognitive resource sapping activities of creative problem solving and being innovative certainly would be benefiting from time spent having a spa treatment, it seems. And that is why myself and Lynn put together the Spa Sabbaticals.

I’d love to provide you with the clear physiological explanations about the benefits of treatments but I’ll leave that to my next blog post (reflecting on my teaching input on a massage course recently).

So forget spas as fountains of youth giving treatments. Now is the time to think of spas as fountains of business innovation too!

Employee well-being, Leadership and Management Development, Reboot Camps, Spa Sabbatical, Stress management

The Business Case for Your Spa Sabbatical

This image reminds me of thoughts that myself and Lynn were having this weekend about the Spa Sabbaticals. We are putting together an info sheet  explaining the business case for our rebooting camps.

The key themes we note we are how some organisations are now responding to best styles of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and not just CSR in its narrowest sense such as being responsible only to shareholders by delivering a return on investment (after Milton Friedman). I used to teach business ethics and CSR for Birkbeck.

The next step up and slightly more sophisticated band of CSR is also connected to employee engagement and job satisfaction. This means organisations taking responsibility for facilitating staff well-being. Employee well-being also has it’s levels which range from paying staff, providing them with benefits, looking after physical health right up to guiding their authentic self actualisation (remember your Maslow). The Spa Sabbatical provides well-being from both the physical and the mental perspectives as well as the existential. The program helps delegates through practical career re-alignment and inner work-life planning. In addition the “taking care of oneself” (after Socrates) and the new concept of self compassion help to explain why the Spa Sabbatical is what individuals might be more inclined to self select. Our detailed info sheet on the business case for our Spa Sabbaticals will be shared with those subscribing to our newsletter.

Read about Spa Sabbaticals and rebooting camps?


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