User blogs

What kind of shared future are we building for business and the economy?

Listening to the BBC yesterday on the UK Government’s plans for immigration policy after Brexit raised some interesting questions. The intention is to allow highly skilled and well-paid workers to gain employment in the UK while placing significant curbs on the entry of low-skilled migrants.

Of course, in comparison with its European neighbours, Britain has long been a low skill, low wage economy. UK firms are generally more inclined to organise work in ways that minimise skill requirements, and they have been comparatively slow to take up the high performance workplace practices that lead to skills enhancement. The result is a predominantly low skilled workforce with low aspirations and few opportunities to raise their qualification levels. Moreover, the system is largely self-perpetuating, with an educational, training and policy framework that reinforces the status quo.

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More than 60 Portuguese company representatives took part in an interactive workshop held in Porto where the experiences of two Scottish businesses were used to demonstrate the beneficial outcomes of workplace innovation and employee-led change.

The workshop was facilitated by UK based Workplace Innovation Europe Limited who introduced Doug Johnston, General Manager at DS Smith’s Lockerbie operation and Dundee based David O’Byrne from animal pharmaceutical business, Argenta.

Both companies have recently participated in Scottish Enterprise’s Workplace Innovation Engagement Programme (WIEP) which sought to help Scottish businesses introduce people centred change and action planning based on a novel combination of individual learning and development, peer-to-peer exchange of knowledge and experience, and on-site coaching and facilitation.

The workshop marked the launched of a ‘Portuguese Organisational Innovation Community of Practice’ with the aim of creating a high profile coalition of organisations who will promote the concept of workplace innovation amongst Portuguese companies.

It was supported by a number of high profile public and private sector bodies including employers’ organisations, chambers of commerce, universities and public sector agencies including the Portuguese National Innovation Agency.

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Two things are clear.

Firstly, a vast and growing body of evidence and experience shows that workplace innovation practices which empower employees to make day-to-day-decisions, challenge established practices, contribute ideas and be heard at the most senior levels lead to better business results as well as enhanced workforce health and engagement.

Secondly there is a substantial gap between “what works” and what happens in the majority of workplaces. Most surveys suggest that only around 15% of private or public sector workplaces are making fullest possible use of evidence-based practices equally associated with high performance and employee health.

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Below are a few of the companies we've had the pleasure of working with.

Fresh thinking Labs offers access to a unique online resource portfolio including research evidence, case studies and practical tools including the Essential  Fifth Element Diagnostic - Online. Below you can find a few free resources to browse:


Try our Workplace Diagnostic - Online.


Fresh Thinking Labs the international open source movement for workplace innovation. Your pathway to the best workplace practices and latest thinking from across Europe and beyond.


Success in the new industrial revolution naturally requires that our industries use the best available technologies. But technologies alone are not the answer. Watch our 'Guide to Workplace Innovation' animation.


Watch our film about Workplace Innovation.


Workplace Innovation - Creating value



Interested to learn more? Fresh Thinking Labs is the international platform for company networking and workplace innovation, On Line  and In Person: www.freshthinkinglabs.com

Please contact us for further information!

Fresh Thinking Labs has launched in Ireland! On Friday 6th October Peter Totterdill and Rosemary Exton together with Brendan McGinty, MD of Stratis Consulting our Irish partner, welcomed companies to our Symposium and Launch Event on Workplace Innovation for Irish Companies.


Interested to learn more? Fresh Thinking Labs is the international platform for company networking and workplace innovation, On Line  and In Person: www.freshthinkinglabs.com

Please contact us for further information!

A Europe-wide platform for facilitating workplace innovation and knowledge sharing between businesses and organisations is set to launch in Dublin next month with a symposium to be held at IAA Conference Centre.

Fresh Thinking Labs (FTL) is the international open source movement for workplace innovation. It is part of Workplace Innovation Europe Limited and its membership includes both large and small businesses including Aviva, E.ON, GE Transportation, Novozymes, and Saint-Gobain.

Its extensive network provides a pathway for businesses to discover the best workplace practices and latest thinking from across Europe. It is currently facilitating workplace visits and networking events with SAAB Aerospace in Sweden, Leo Pharma in Copenhagen and MBDA Systems in the UK.

The launch follows the appointment of Dublin based Stratis Consulting as the exclusive Irish partner of FTL. Stratis comprises the most experienced and innovative team of practitioners in their field in Ireland working at leadership team, chief executive and board levels to support organisations to lead improvements in critical areas of employee relations, people strategy and workplace innovation.

Brendan McGinty Managing Partner at Stratis Consulting, said: “This launch event will give organisations an early opportunity to understand more about how FTL network could benefit them by combining an online community designed to support shared learning and innovation in the workplace with face-to-face dialogue and relationship building through inter-company visits and workshops at regional, national and international levels.

“Workplace Innovation Europe Limited’s Director, Peter Totterdill, will be speaking at the symposium. He and his team at FTL have an international reputation for bridging the gap between academic theory and practical application. They are inspiring businesses of all types to seek better ways of organising their workplaces, improving productivity and performance and enhancing employee well-being.”


The Symposium and Launch of the FTL Ireland Workplace Innovation Network will take place on Friday October 6th 2017 at the IAA Conference Centre, D’Olier Street, Dublin 2. (8.30am-12.30 pm). Further information and registration are available by contacting Robert O’Neill on 01-2166302/ 085-776 8833 or by e-mail to stratisconsulting@stratis.ie

Background

Mental health problems are a huge issue affecting people and business. Statistics tell us that 1 in 4 people will be affected by a mental health problem at some time in their life with the result that 72 million working days are lost each year, at a cost of around £3.4.9bn to UK employers alone.

In recent years, policy makers and businesses alike have been increasingly engaged in the area of mental health and well-being in the workplace. However, the approach towards dealing with it is not necessarily the same as that for promoting mental health and wellbeing. For far too long the focus has been on treatment of mental disorders, and not on prevention, promotion and well-being. Well-being at work is defined as individuals’ ability to work productively and creatively, to engage in strong and positive relationships, fulfilment of personal and social goals, contribution to community, and a sense of purpose. To promote well-being at work means creating work environments that allow individuals to thrive.

Emerging risks to health and wellbeing include work intensification (high workload and information overload, high speed, increased mechanisation, automation, computerisation, more complexity), emotional demands (linked to more service-based jobs, bullying, harassment and stigmatisation), and job insecurity. These challenges have been found to be linked with work-related stress, mental ill health, sickness absence, productivity loss and early exit from the workforce.

Good work supports mental well-being for everyone. Employers are increasingly recognising the need to identify and support people with mental health problems but the wider task is to identify and address those workplace practices which build or undermine mental well-being such as workload, work schedules, role clarity, communication, rewards, teamwork, problem-solving, and relationships at work.

While many employees are now recognising that good mental health among their employees is both an asset and a source of competitive advantage and are investing in mental health awareness training for managers, there is evidence that much more could be done to address core workplace practices and cultures which have the power to either fundamentally undermine or promote mental wellbeing for all employees.

So, in pursuit of creating healthy and sustainable work environments, what can employers do to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem? To what extent are leaders and managers equipped to identify poor mental health, to provide necessary support for employees, and to take positive and focused action to build positive mental well-being at work?


Let’s talk

Even enlightened employers will be daunted by the mountain of guidelines that have been recently published following the increase in awareness of the impact of mental health at work. Guidelines are helpful and supportive but sometimes do not reflect the reality of the workplace.

To address this Fresh Thinking Labs, the membership-based international platform for workplace innovation, and the NHS-backed Mindful Employer, are facilitating the ‘Good Work and Mental Well-Being Lab’, a closed network of organisations committed to exploring leading edge practice and identifying practical, evidence-based solutions. The Lab provides a platform for employers from public and private sectors to tackle the challenges posed by mental health issues in the workplace by sharing their experiences and insights as ‘critical friends’, and developing a community of best practice from which new and innovative solutions will emerge.

In summary, the Lab:

  • Enables the sharing of good practice and ideas between workplaces.
  • Builds active relationships with your peers in other organisations.
  • Creates a forum for collaborative innovation and problem solving.
  • Bridges the gap between research and practice.
  • Draws on experience from our network of leading companies from across Europe.
  • Develops practical tools and resources for workplace change.
  • Provides access to expert guidance.

It aims to:

Raise Awareness - How can we diagnose the current workplace climate and assess the factors that contribute to, or undermine, positive workplace health? How to build the business case and win support for change? And which policies should be put in place?

Build a Momentum for Change - Once the right policies are in place, how do we raise awareness of mental health and improve the standard of practice throughout the organisation?

Rethink Job Design and Work Organisation – Can we turn line managers from barrier reef or mental health ambassadors? Training managers in mental health awareness and fostering appropriate behaviours is often necessary but what does good practice look like – and is it sufficient? How can management roles, processes and behaviours be rethought to support positive mental health and high performance simultaneously?

Building mental well-being at work requires focused leadership commitment. Senior teams need a full understanding of how the workplace can contribute to positive mental health and, in turn, to business performance. They must align corporate values with evidence-based principles and the needs of individuals throughout the organisation, and ensure their implementation in practice.

There is more information here. Companies, NGOs and public sector organisations wishing to join the ‘Good Work and Mental Well-Being Lab’ can contact Fresh Thinking Labs on 0115 9338321 or by email.

Build Positive Mental Health through Good Work

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