We spend half our lives at work, and so our working environment can easily impact upon our mental health. That is the conclusion of a study carried out by researchers at Northwestern University in the US, who studied a group of workers, half in offices with windows and half without.
The message from this study and others is clear; a lack of natural light adversely affects how well workers see, how they sleep, and how productive they are. No access to natural light, even if compensated with artificial lighting, has a negative effect. Overall, workers experience greater lethargy and depression, which in turn affects their productivity and the level of absenteeism. In the UK, it is estimated that 1 million working hours are lost each year to depression-related issues.
Most of these problems can be easily addressed by rethinking the workplace environment. If you create a welcoming, uplifting space in which to work, staff will naturally be able to concentrate and perform better. Purpose-designed desks and chairs are part of the ergonomic solution for staff wellbeing, but the lighting and colour scheme also makes an important contribution.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is very real for some people, causing them to suffer depression during the winter months. Around 30 per cent of workers in the UK leave for work and return home in the dark during winter. If this effect is compounded by a lack of natural light at work, absenteeism may well start to creep up.
Conversely, abundant natural light lifts moods and encourages a positive attitude to spending time at work. People are more alert and less prone to headaches, their vision is better, and they also tend to have better sleep patterns. All of these factors add up to make a big difference to productivity and the atmosphere among colleagues.
Of course, you will want to provide the maximum amount of natural light, but you may also need to shield desks and computer screens from reflections and glare, and protect workers from direct sun. Modern window shutters are a great solution for controlling the light levels in the workplace. Shutters add elegance to any window, upgrading the visual impact of your workspace straight away. They also make natural light much more controllable by allowing you to vary the angle of the light and the amount that penetrates the room right through the day.
The initial investment will be more than offset by the improvements in your working environment, as well as bringing important energy savings from using less artificial light. Workers will feel more engaged with their tasks, more comfortable, and less prone to the health problems that may keep them at home.
It pays to consider the whole working environment as part of your business strategy. Ensure that staff are performing at their highest level not only by nurturing their skills but also by providing a light, airy environment that will safeguard their health and encourage their performance.
Mental health awareness week means different things to different people and organisations. For Kenny Johnston, it’s an opportunity to show the stigma can be overcome and inspire people suffering in silence.
Four years and half years ago, Kenny was focused on one thing; ending his life from the mental illness nightmare he was enduring due to depression. He woke up on Tuesday October 12th determined to end his life and after two attempts, he realised it wasn’t meant to be. As he lay alone on the floor in his shed he decided that this was the lowest point of his life and he never was going to allow himself or anyone else he knew to enter the place where suicide became the only option.
On Saturday 16th May, CLASP Charity hosts their 2nd ‘Walking out of Darkness’ event to end the stigma surrounding mental health and increase suicide prevention. The 10 mile walk takes place during ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ to inspire people across the country and open minds about mental health and address the stigma surrounding mental illness. The event has particular significance to Kenny, as he is the Founder and CEO of CLASP Charity.
Motivated by his own ordeal, he has obtained support from NHS England, Time to Change, Rethink Mental Illness, Legal & General, Pure Gym, Wandsworth Council plus several other London Councils as well as a host of other businesses and services across the country to reach out to the millions of people across the UK who struggle with their mental health and offer support. The event also marks the beginning of a partnership between CLASP and the NHS to launch a new mental health wellbeing and suicide prevention helpline service.
The ‘Walking out of Darkness’ event is supported by the Department of Health, Bank of England, Financial Ombudsman Service, plus others and has also been commended by Norman Lamb, former Department of Health and Care Minister and Mayor of London Boris Johnson who stated, “Those struggling with mental ill health often go unnoticed and unsupported. Yet, there is much we are doing to improve our mental health and prevent suicides, and I applaud CLASP’s work to help Londoners who are struggling in this way”
Mark Winstanley, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “Mental illness affects all of us in some way, but the stigma around it can make it hard for people to open up about what they’re going through and get the help they need. We hope this event can make a real difference by raising awareness of mental health among Londoners, as well as raising money for charities like Rethink Mental Illness which directly support people affected by mental health problems.”
Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, the national mental health anti-stigma campaign, who will be attending the event said: “We need to have more conversations taking place about mental health problems to bring the issue out from the shadows and make it less of a taboo subject. The Walking out of Darkness event, as well as hundreds of other events taking place across the country, offers people a chance to join the movement and show that it’s time to break the silence that surrounds mental health.”
Registration is only £10 and participants can fundraise for any UK mental health charity they want or walk for the cause. Starting in Bernie Spain Gardens by the OXO Tower in London at 10am participants will set off along the Thames Path and take in some of London’s most iconic landmarks including Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and the Houses of Parliament before an afternoon of entertaining attractions and a variety of mental wellbeing advice in Battersea Park.
CLASP invites everybody willing to walk out of the darkness of the stigma surrounding mental illness to come along and support the 1 in 4 suffering in silence at this unforgettable event.
For more information and details on how to register, visit the CLASP website www.claspcharity.com
If you are concerned about mental illness or suicide call the NHS 111 Helpline or speak to your GP immediately
Would you like a career with a purpose – a career that makes a positive difference to the world?
Making the move to work within a social enterprise, a company that is using business to create a social or environmental benefit, is now easier than ever – and, according to Tom Rippin, founder of On Purpose, it’s never too late in your career to make the change.
On Purpose matches organisations that are using business for good with talented professionals who want something more fulfilling and meaningful from their career.
Tom has helped hundreds of professionals find a more fulfilling career; here are Tom’s 11 tips for professionals wanting to develop their careers within a social enterprise:
- Invest the time to think about how and why you want to make this change. If you’re feeling frustrated in your current role, it’s often worth stopping to identify exactly what is lacking.
- Talk to friends and colleagues. By letting people know that you want to change they will be able to help. And the more specific you can be about what you are looking for the more easily they’ll be able to help you.
- Beware passion paralysis. You often hear “follow your passion”, but many people don’t know what their “passion” is, and spend (waste…) a huge amount of time trying to figure it out. Get things moving by collecting some experiences about what you do and don’t enjoy – e.g. through events, volunteering, or taking a sabbatical to explore an area of interest in more detail.
- Think beyond the cause. It’s tempting to focus on the cause you’re interested in but ignore all the other aspects of a role or organisation that shape the experience. For example, the size or stage of the organisation, whether they work directly with the people that they are set up to benefit, the business model, and the team and culture.
- Find your tribe. It can be incredibly helpful to find other people who are going through the same process to support you as you make your own transition. By exploring other networks you can often find people who share your interests or values or are just going through a similar journey to you, and can signpost you to other things you might be interested in.
- Focus on your intrinsics. Social enterprise is an emerging space, and often there will be few people who have the exact skills and experience profiles needed for a role. Focus on communicating examples of your intrinsic skills (e.g. relationship building, problem solving), as well as transferable aspects of your technical skills. For example you may have done a lot of financial analysis, which could be applied to better understanding social impact data.
- Be real. When applying for roles make sure you understand the context of the organisation you are applying to and tailor your application for each role. For example, using language appropriate to the sector. Write clearly and in simple, jargon free language about who you are and why you are interested in the role and the organisation.
- Never talk about “giving back”. People who have spent their whole careers in this world will automatically think you shouldn’t have “taken away” in the first place.
- Don’t find yourself, build yourself. You might not find the one role that meets all the criteria of your dream job immediately. It can be helpful to break a transition into phases, for example initially switching sectors before switching functional role.
- Baptism of fire. When you have changed roles, make sure you ask all the stupid questions early on while people will be forgiving! It’s also worth attending as many events, lunches and coffees in the first month as possible to fully submerge yourself in your new role.
- It’s a spiral. Arguably you’re never done with this process. Take time to evaluate your career at regular points (it can help to have a coach to do this with) and proactively plan ways to ensure that you continue to develop yourself professionally.
The On Purpose Associate Programme is full time, based in London and starts on September 30th 2015. Associates work in their placements 4.5 days a week and spend Friday afternoon at training. Associates are paid £21,000 for the year, which is a stipend for a year of training and development.
Applications are open from now until 9am on the 11th May at www.onpurpose.uk.com.
Jim McNeill, one of the world’s most experienced and respected explorers, is searching for aspiring expedition members for a quest to reach the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility – a world first.
The 800 mile (1,280 km) expedition is the latest flagship of the Ice Warrior project and will run from February to May 2016.
Applicants will be invited to a selection weekend in June or July at a location that will be revealed late to test participants’ organisational skills. Successful candidates will then undergo comprehensive and intensive UK and Arctic training.
The pioneering expedition will make use of new technologies such as the hybrid kayak-sledge QAJAQ, which was designed by Jim himself. It will serve as a vessel on ice, sea ice and water and double as a survival pod.
Former fireman Jim McNeill said, “We want to recruit ordinary men and women on this epic expedition, to show that most people have the ‘right stuff’. This is one of the biggest, boldest and most exciting expeditions of our time, and harks back to the golden age of polar exploration, when there were no experts.
“I want 28 people in four teams of seven who will commit to a 20 day period on ice; aged 18-80, from all walks of life and who want to make history and a crucial contribution to science.
“Expeditioners will be measuring many sea-ice parameters and the data they collect will further our knowledge of how it disintegrates and therefore how long it will last.”
Jim, who is 54 and has over 30 years of polar expedition experience, is passionate about opening up the Arctic to those willing to participate. “People don’t need to be super fit. Maturity, in the truest sense of the word, will help but what is essential is that people must be excellent team players.”
The journey, including all training and kit, will cost around £20,000 per person and participants are required to have the characteristics and drive to fundraise this money – making it available to anyone. The expedition will be split into four legs, each lasting 20 days. In total, the trek will cover 800 miles.
If you’d like to apply to be selected for the expedition, visit www.lastpole.co.uk. For information about Jim McNeill visit www.ice-warrior.com . The expedition is being promoted on Twitter with the hashtag #LastPole and participants can register their interest by texting ‘ICE’ to 66777.
Ecological concerns are becoming a major driving force in today’s global economy. The population’s growing understanding of issues such as climate change, carbon emissions and the urgency of seeking an answer to the reduction of fossil fuel reserves have clearly made consumers more discerning when it comes to choosing which products to buy and which to avoid. Here is a guide for business owners focused on what they should be considering in order to be counted among the green-friendly firms that are expanding worldwide while simultaneously reducing their costs.
Reviewing business practices
A good place to start is with a review of standard business practices. Here are some basic ideas for things to look out for to help benefit the planet and also improve customer relations:
- Always print on both sides of paper and use misprinted paper for notes to avoid waste.
- Audit the components of the workspace – look for furniture made from recycled materials, replace incandescent bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescents and LED desk lamps, plus make the most of natural daylight.
- Also audit the use of paper (e.g., for letters) as opposed to digital alternatives (such as emails).
- Check how the organization purchases supplies of pens, pencils, ink cartridges, soap and paper towels and whether all of these are manufactured from recycled materials – as all of them can be.
- Double-check if the organization is saving the energy it should be.
- Consider the sourcing of the paper that the business decides is absolutely necessary.
- Encourage employees to bring healthy lunches to work in reusable containers and supply reusable cutlery, napkins and plates.
- Encourage employees to consider alternative methods of commuting to work, such as walking, cycling, using public transport or car sharing.
- If the company receives a lot of packaged goods try to reuse the packaging when possible.
- Improve air quality with good ventilation.
Advising businesses about reducing their carbon footprint is a highly specialized field, and when environmental consultants eco advisor ERM sold to Charterhouse Capital Partners, it was evident that global companies in this field (ERM works in 40 countries) are set to make a huge impact on the economy worldwide.
Major leaps forward
The rise in the production of biofuels, wind turbine installations and electric cars can only be taken as positive signs that eco issues are really making an impact on the global economy. As consumers continue to ask questions about how products are sourced, they are influencing many businesses to reconsider their business practices and to improve them in terms of their environmental impact.
Smart businesses that opt to go green can share good practice tips with colleagues; for example, consider purchasing carbon offsets for business travel by car or plane and switch to fair trade products such as coffee for staff breaks. There’s no reason why your employees can’t bring in a mug, glass or cup from home for drinks, and the use of small recycling bins is as easy as standard ones. Tune in to the current eco issues and help save the planet as well as keep your customers.
The automotive industry in the UK, and especially that of high performance cars, is a highly prized sector in the UK economy. It has in the past provided a benchmark for manufacturers in the rest of the world, and continues to do so. The country continues to invest in the development of high-level skills and engineering innovation, so as to keep its place as a major force in the automotive industry worldwide.
The history and future of the automotive industry in the UK
The UK has a rich history in the automotive industry, whether it is civilian cars or high performance racing and luxury brands. It has as a result earned itself a reputation around the world for high performance, quality, as well as engineering prowess. Some of the premium and sports car brands that the country is known for include Bentley, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, McLaren, and Rolls-Royce.
As far as the future of the industry is concerned, it seems quite bright. 2014 saw the industry hit record production levels, and this trend is set to continue in the years to come. The sector has been buoyed by a thriving export market, especially that of emerging markets where middle class populations are growing and their demand for goods, notably for luxury and high-end British brands, is increasing.
So as to ensure the country remains a base for high-level engineering skills, the British Government has put in place initiatives aimed at plugging the skills gap. This has led to more support and emphasis being given to the development of science and engineering skills through apprentices and vocational training. There has also been an effort to create manufacturing training and technology centres in a number of sites around the country, to nurture and grow young talent in order for the UK to keep its place as a major world leader in engineering.
Anthony Sheriff and his successful run at McLaren Automotive
Anthony Sheriff has worked as the Managing Director as well as a member of the Board of Directors of McLaren Automotive Ltd. While at the company, Anthony Sheriff had the responsibility of managing the various aspects of the road car business for the company. He steered the launch, in partnership with Mercedes-Benz, of the SLR into production. The development and launch of the SLR Stirling Moss and SLR Roadster that followed helped turn McLaren Automotive into a profitable company.
In a recent interview with McLaren Automotive director, Automotive Zone learnt that after this successful launch, Sheriff went ahead to launch three further products, the P11 (650S and MP4-12C), P12 (P1) and P13 (Sports Series), which established McLaren Automotive as a luxury sports car manufacturing company. The company also built a global distribution network and a dedicated production facility under Sheriff’s leadership.
The UK automotive sector, and especially that of high performance cars, has a bright future ahead of it, and should remain at the forefront of a thriving manufacturing industry in the country for many years to come. This will be as a result of the development and nurturing of an engineering skills base as well as the provision of the required financial support that will ensure the creation of a sustainable and stable industry.
A majority of businesses, especially new start-ups, are heavily exposed to technology, even if that technology is something as simple as a social media account for marketing purposes; so managers need to have at least some knowledge of technological processes and how they impact on the firm. As a manager, you need to understand your business systems and how they actually work; avoiding the role of technology in those systems because you have some type of tech phobia is no excuse.
If you want the definition of a manager put in simple terms, it is someone who organises and oversees the work that other people do. As such, it is not especially practical to expect a manager to have an in-depth or expert knowledge of every single business process and the finer details of how they work. Nonetheless, experienced and successful managers will tell you that some technical knowledge is essential. Take a scenario in which you are overseeing, as a manager, the implementation of a new IT system in your organisation and a member of staff or an outside contractor comes to you with a specific query that is tech related. You may have in-depth project management skills, but in the absence of any specific tech knowledge, on what basis are you going to be able to answer their query or question the assumptions it is based on?
Armed with tech knowledge, you can appreciate what staff are doing right, identify when they go wrong, and how problem areas can be resolved. Successful managers emphasise the importance of good communication, listening to employees and being supportive in what they say.
Having a certain level of tech awareness enhances your communication skills as a manager because it better equips you to talk with and listen to employees, and tech employees in particular, to boost mutual understanding. A certain amount of tech knowledge also serves to enhance the relevant employees’ trust in you and your capabilities. In turn, you are better able to trust them and the skill set they bring to the workplace because you have at least a rudimentary understanding of what it is they do. Another benefit of having some tech knowledge is that you can better support your tech team in representations to more senior management in the hope of attaining the necessary resources; alternatively, if you are the boss, you can better understand what it is they need and what level of investment is required.
The good news for managers is that keeping up to date with developments in tech is as easy as reading online tech blogs that offer the latest in tech news. If you leave aside a few minutes in every day for a read of the latest developments in technology, you can keep abreast of what’s new and how those developments might impact on your organisation.
The key to managing tech in business is having an overall understanding of the technologies deployed and how they tie into business needs.
Applications are now open for the October 2015 On Purpose social enterprise leadership programme.
On Purpose is a leadership programme that helps driven, talented professionals find a career that matters.
The one year On Purpose Associate Programme combines paid work placements in organisations which are using commercial dynamics to create social or environmental benefit (including Virgin Unite, Big Society Capital, National Citizens Service and JustGiving), along with weekly training (with professionals from organisations such as McKinsey, P&G, Ogilvy, the Design Council and the Cabinet Office) and regular one-to-one coaching and mentoring from seasoned business leaders.
Applications are now open until 9am on the 11th May 2015.
On Purpose was founded by Tom Rippin, a former management consultant with McKinsey, after having gone through a career transition similar to those that On Purpose now facilitates for its participants. “After leaving McKinsey to work in organisations that were using commercial dynamics for good, I had a steady stream of people who wanted to find out how I had managed to make that jump, so I knew there was a lot of demand out there.”
He decided to put his experience gained across the business, non-profit and public sectors towards helping others find more meaningful careers and, in so doing, help build and develop talent that bring about a more sustainable economy – one where the strengths of business are harnessed for social and environmental benefit.
On Purpose matches organisations that are using business for good with talented professionals who want something more fulfilling and meaningful from their career.
It’s a win-win; the social enterprise benefits from the carefully screened participants and the professionals being placed are offered a unique chance to not only work in these difficult-to-access organisations but also to learn with a group of like-minded peers and build a powerful network; all while at the same time putting their skills to use in organisations whose purpose they believe in.
Tom has previously advised the CEO of Comic Relief, and used to work with (RED) as Business Development Director, the company founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver, to help fight AIDS in Africa.
“For social enterprises to become successful, the movement needs not only entrepreneurs but also top quality managers and professionals who will grow and manage organisations. We are the only social enterprise programme focused on attracting these kinds of professionals.” explains Tom.
On Purpose recruits new professionals just twice per year. Applications are now open for the October 2015 intake and they are looking for emerging leaders from all disciplines who want to kick-start a career in social enterprises.
“We’ve already helped over 100 talented professionals change careers and are now recruiting again until 11th May when we will close our books.” says Tom.
Becoming an On Purpose Associate means taking part in a year-long programme where you:
- are paid to work at organisations like Ben & Jerry’s, Big Issue Invest, Marks and Spencer Plan A
- receive training from professionals from organisations including McKinsey, the Design Council, the Cabinet Office, Ogilvy and the Big Issue
- learn from your peers, experienced mentors and executive coaches
- become part of a collaborative network of emerging social enterprise leaders
Following the programme >85% of Fellows (alumni) remain working within this space and continue to benefit from On Purpose through additional training, social events and peer-to-peer support.
The Associate Programme is full time, based in London and starts on September 30th 2015. Associates work in their placements 4.5 days a week and spend Friday afternoon at training. Associates are paid £21,000 for the year, which is a stipend for a year of training and development.
Applications are open from now until 9am on the 11th May at www.onpurpose.uk.com.
A competition to find the best ‘Bright Ideas’ to create a better life for people affected by dementia in Scotland has been launched today.
The competition is being run by the Life Changes Trust, an independent charity set up with a Big Lottery Fund endowment of £50 million to improve the lives of two key groups in Scotland: people affected by dementia and care experienced young people.
The challenge is to come up with a new and innovative approach or idea for something that would improve the lives of people who have dementia and/or those who care for them.
The competition is open to anyone – people living with dementia or their carers, students, academics, health professionals, designers, engineers, gardeners – anyone with a Bright Idea that can be turned into a working reality for people affected by dementia.
The idea could be related to mobility, to inclusion, to learning or to healthy living. It could be based around safety and security, housing or even just having fun.
Six applications will be shortlisted by a panel of people with dementia and carers who will score the applications on the extent to which they are:
• have potential to transform the lives of people with dementia and/or carers
• have potential to be sustainable in the long term
There will be three grant prizes, awarded at an event in November 2015: The first prize is £50,000, the second prize is £25,000 and the third prize is £15,000.
Chief Executive of the Life Changes Trust Maddy Halliday said, ‘The Trust believes that, as a society, we need to find and invest in new and innovative ways of helping people living with dementia and their carers so they feel valued, included and supported. The Trust is already funding a wide range of activities to support people affected by dementia and today we are delighted to announce our first, annual Bright Ideas competition. We hope to receive many exciting and innovative ideas and look forward to funding those that have the potential to provide the biggest benefit to people affected by dementia in Scotland.’
• It is estimated that around 90,000 people have dementia in Scotland
• The number of people with dementia in Scotland is increasing because the population is getting older. Based on current dementia prevalence rates, the number of people with dementia in Scotland is projected to double by 2038*.
• Much of the care and financial burden of dementia falls on family carers and friends, who may also experience social isolation, exhaustion and health problems associated with the demands of caring.
• Dementia costs the country more than cancer, heart disease and stroke put together.
For more information on how to develop or submit your ‘Bright Idea’, go to the Life Changes Trust website