Improving workability

Factors increasing Workaholism

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A recent study of public sector workers reports that work demand is the highest predictor of workaholism.  Employers need to consider this, especially in the current economic climate, when implementing changes relating to productivity demands.

Evidence suggests that social support and targeted counselling have a positive effect on the adverse effects of workaholism and employers can improve this support in the following ways:

  • Activities and communications to improve trust in management, which has been shown to improve commitment, motivation and desire to remain in the organisation
  • Line manager relationship building
  • Buddying by peers within and beyond the direct department
  • Buddying by other managers
  • Team-working has been found to predict employee commitment and motivation, with employee involvement, empowerment, the offer of fair rewards and job security having significant effects on worker motivation
  • Stress management training and workshops
  • Allowing flexibility or time off to attend Counselling or investment in an Employee Assistance Programme.  Counselling Strategies may include stress management to help workaholics find work they enjoy or work that they perceive as highly meaningful (Bonebright et al., 2000) or counseling that helps them to identify a goal other than work to reduce the extent to which their behavior is perceived as dysfunctional by themselves and by the organization employing them (Naugthon, 1987). Self-validation helps the workaholic learn to validate and value self-related aspect other than work.

Workability Solutions offers consultancy services to help you to identify the appropriate solution for your organisation.  Contact Lucy for further information and help.

Update: NICE guideline on PH19 Workplace health: long-term sickness absence and incapacity to work

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As a contributing partner with NICE, I have just received a letter from NICE advising me of an update to their Workplace health guidance.  Please see the details below.

NICE - National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Level 1A, City Tower
Piccadilly Plaza
M1 4BT

Tel: 0300 323 0140
Fax: 0845 003 7784


Dear Colleague

RE: NICE guideline on PH19 Workplace health: long-term sickness absence and incapacity to work

I am writing to let you know that, after considering the evidence and consulting with experts, we have decided to update this guideline. Information about the decision has been published on our website.

We would like to thank you for your continued support and your interest in NICE guidelines.

If you have any queries about the update decision, please contact

Kind regards,

Surveillance Team
Surveillance Reviews
NICE Centre for Guidelines
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Level 1A | City Tower | Piccadilly Plaza | Manchester M1 4BT | United Kingdom


Productivity v. Presenteeism

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On July 6, 2017 CEO Ben Congleton stated “It’s 2017. I cannot believe that it is still controversial to speak about mental health in the workplace when 1 in 6 americans are medicated for mental health.”

A colleague posted this story for comments on a professional forum today.   Therefore, today’s discussion centres around a proactive CEO, who commended his employee for taking mental health days in the expectation of improved performance on her return and highlighted the importance of using sick days for mental health.



Since the first world war, we have known about the decline in performance associated with increasing hours of work.  There are a number of recent studies that have confirmed this.  Cumulative long hours without sufficient recuperation result in exhaustion.  And exhaustion plays a key role in reducing resilience – a key factor in mental health problems.

Employer of choice

Being the employer of choice in your sector is increasingly important as employers vie for talent in the recruitment market.  A good mental health policy is likely to be good for business.  The con’s of course are the cynical views held by some that a proactive mental health policy will “set a precedent” and their employees will “take advantage”.  However, trust works both ways, I would encourage employers to give it a shot.


So what do you, the employer, want to do about this?  Consider the following:

  • Be open about mental health
  • Consult with your staff, employee representatives and groups, unions and senior management team to open communications about stress and mental health
  • Include mental health in your mission statement
  • Train your staff in mental health first aid

Useful links:

Should never happened™

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On New Year’s Eve 2013-4 I made a resolution that would change my life. I decided to take the word “should” out of my vocabulary, because this would force me to find an action verb rather than a frustrating modal reflection.

Since then I have used this with my patients, with excellent feedback, from helping them to come to terms with the frustrations of living with a long-term condition to coping with a situation out of their control or forgiving themselves for something they did or didn’t do.

So, how does it work?

Well “should” is the thing that never happened.  It was the thing that would probably have made a difference.  The moment you replace it with need, plan, or even could or might, it becomes a possibility to be explored.  It opens hope, that elusive light at the end of the tunnel or pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

This morning I was having a catch up with my beloved brother Richard, who lives on the polar opposite side of the world from me.  We catch up from time to time and inevitably chew over the various challenges affecting Triangle and neuro-diverse families. And I found myself suggesting that very “should never happened” strategy and it lifted the mood.  He enthused – that’s a brilliant phrase – searched it and suggested that I buy the website.

So I have!  Watch this space for a website dedicated to the endless possibilities that replace the sentiments “should” and “should(n’t) have”.

I needed to create this website, and today is the day!  No more “shoulds”!

Follow this feed and look out for

Workplace wellbeing will an app work?

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I recently signed up to the personal wellbeing app called Remente and I love it.  The difference between this and other apps is that it encompasses physical and mental wellbeing as well as courses, personal and professional development.  Regular reminders to keep up your steps, have a healthy snack or smile at someone.

Are you looking to invest in a workplace wellbeing strategy?  I would say it’s worth exploring what the business version has to offer.  Please let me have your feedback if you decide to go ahead with the app for your business.

Mental Health: Has Occupational Health ever been needed more?

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Over the last few months I have become increasingly aware of the effects of stress on professionals who care for society’s most vulnerable – teachers, nurses, doctors, the list is seemingly endless

Since schools started back at the start of September, I have read about headteachers resigning, teachers being bullied, an increase in advertising of the excellent Education Support Partnershipteaching

There will be a knock-on effect for those remaining in the workplace, as staff shortages have to be covered or temporary staff need supporting and supervising, adding to the already heavy workload.

Back in 2000, I was involved in a stress risk management pilot for an inner city LEA.  We found some practical and practicable solutions to help schools to identify and resolve their organisational stressors and build stronger team relationships:

  • Matrix model to explore each type of stressor with a scoring system to enable priorities to be ranked;
  • Small generic assessment groups by job type, e.g. Teachers, Teaching / Learning support assistants (TA)s, Key stage (KS), Faculty / Subject group, Administration, Senior management team (SMT);
  • Feedback to the SMT with priorities highlighted for inclusino in the school development plan.

Does your workplace have a stress risk assessment in place?  If not, there are a number of excellent resources out there, which I will list at the bottom of this page.

So, how can Occupational Health help – aren’t they just there to see people who are off sick and help management get them back to work?

If you are a manager and have a member of staff experiencing difficulty at work or off sick with a condition, you may find the manager’s resource page helpful.

Stress risk assessment templates:

Welcome to Occupational Health

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There has never been a better time to become an Occupational Health practitioner.  The Council for Work and Health have published a report outlining the shortage of Occupational Health specialists.  Read more here.  As an independent Specialist Practitioner and a Director of the AOHNP , I look forward to welcoming and supporting nurses and technicians joining our team.

If you are new to OH,

  • look out for the professional development programme that I am developing for the NHS NPAG which will start again in September 2016;
  • please consider joining the AOHNP as a student or associate member to develop your skills and your career.