Neurodiversity – What is it?

Neurodiversity describes the range of differences in individual brain function. These differences reflect a normal variation in the human population. The term neurodiversity was coined in 1998 by Australian sociologist Judy Singer (who is autistic) and has gained a lot of attention in recent years. The neurodiversity movement was spearheaded to encourage the inclusion of ‘neurological minorities’. The term was originally used to describe autism but has since evolved into an umbrella term and includes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, dyspraxia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and other learning disabilities (this is not an exhaustive list).

Neurological differences were previously (and still in some places) viewed as medical deficits that needed to be treated or cured. The focus on treatment and cures has shifted to acceptance and accommodation. Just like all other human traits, neurological functioning differs between individuals. It is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Neurodiversity rejects the idea that there is one ‘right’ way of thinking, learning and behaving.

People whose brain functioning is considered to be the social norm are called neurotypical. People whose brain functioning deviates from what is considered ‘typical’, i.e., having traits of autism, dyslexia, or ADHD, are called neuroatypical or neurodivergent.

Neurodiversity does not only recognise that brain functioning differs between people, but also puts forward the idea that these differences can be beneficial. For example, the American bank, JPMorgan Chase, offers an ‘Autism at Work’ programme. The employees in this programme have been found to be approximately 90 to 140 per cent more productive than neurotypical employees and make fewer errors. It is important to note that while the neurodiversity movement celebrates neurodivergent brains, it does not disregard the struggles and difficulties that neurodivergent people can often face.

Neurodiversity in the workplace:

Many environments like workplaces were set up by neurotypical people and therefore may not meet the needs of neurodivergent people. Understanding and embracing neurodiversity in the workplace can make a more inclusive work environment for everyone. Here are some simple accommodations that can help to foster an inclusive working environment:

  • Neurodiversity awareness training – Stigma and lack of awareness can have harmful impacts on neurodivergent employees. Awareness training programmes allow employees to develop an awareness and understanding of their neurodivergent colleagues. Suitable training also allows employees to become comfortable in talking about neurodiversity.
  • Sensory needs – Some neurodivergent people may experience sensory challenges. Offering accommodations like noise-blocking headphones, modifications to the work uniform (if applicable), lighting modifications and extra movement breaks can help to meet their sensory needs.
  • Ask, don’t assume – There is huge variability within the neurodiverse population. No two neurodivergent brains are the same. It is therefore important to ask people their individual preferences and needs rather than making an assumption about what their needs could be.
  • Utilise different communication styles – Consider peoples preferred communication styles. There are numerous communication channels available that can ensure accessibility for all employees. For example, some people may prefer to communicate on a call rather than an in-person meeting and vice versa.


    Anna McLoughlin

    Digital Wellbeing Specialist @ Wrkit

    Tips on how benefits can help soften the blow of the cost of living crisis on employees and their families

    Rises in tax, food and energy prices and failure of pay to keep up in recent years is putting wellbeing under threat

    The pandemic had a profound effect on the finances of UK households. Earlier this year, 1 in 3 employees said they were struggling to keep up with their financial commitments – double what it was before the pandemic. As the cost-of-living crisis worsened over the last few months, it is now clear that employees are already experiencing a larger financial shock than the 2008 financial crisis. 

    Pay isn’t keeping up with the cost of living
    Compounding the current crisis is the failure of pay to keep up with the cost of living. As a result of low wage growth, pay has technically fallen by 1% – the steepest fall we’ve seen in 8 years. As it stands, energy bills alone are set to rise at least 14 times faster than wages, new research suggests.

    The TUC estimates that, since 2010, energy bills have risen at twice the speed of average wages. The union body estimated that record high energy prices alone could wipe out the entire value of any pay rises this year. 

    Impact on living standards
    As a result of this cost-of-living crisis, we will inevitably see an impact on employee living standards. The hardest hit will be middle and low-income families – which for many companies will constitute almost all their employees.

    Combined with tax changes, recent price increases will have implications for employee’s living standards. For example, an employee with a salary of £30,000 would need to see a nominal wage growth of 7.1% to just maintain their standard of living given the current rate of inflation. With estimates putting the average UK pay rise at 3.4% this year, even employees who benefit from them will still find themselves having to cut back. The combination of slow wage growth and the rising cost of living will feel like a 4% pay cut for many of your average earners – and that is significant. 

    Real household impact
    Price increases will have different impacts on different households depending on what they spend on goods and services. Looking at data from the IFS, we can see that while lower income households are hit disproportionately by the increases in gas prices, overall inflation rates are similar across different income groups. While gas prices affect a smaller proportion of total budget among high-income households, the inflation that these households face is higher due to increases in things like transport and hospitality costs. 

    While poorer households will feel the cost-of-living crisis more than others, those middle to high-income households will find themselves paying more for things they spend more of their budget on, such as recreation, hospitality and travel. This could lead to people cutting out or cutting down on entertainment, which may have a negative impact on other areas of wellbeing.

    Impact on mental health
    This cost-of-living crisis will highlight the interdependent nature of our wellbeing. The increased pressure and stress can be expected to hit employee wellbeing, with an increase in poor mental health and sleep problems. Even higher income households will have to tighten their belts and adjust their spending on things such as holidays. But there are ways employers can provide quick and cost-effective support. 

    Making net pay go further
    We know behaviour change makes a huge difference to an employee’s financial wellbeing. We also know that when people feel more in control of their finances, they feel more confident in their financial future. At a time when so much of an employee’s finances are out of their control, what employers can do to make them feel more in control and help them make better financial decisions is important. That’s why it’s time employee discounts were brought right back into the limelight as a serious way to have a positive impact on your people’s finances. 

    A core feature of financial wellbeing has always been to help employees make their net pay go further. But in the face of huge financial challenges this year, discounts, and encouraging employees to use them, have become a vital component of a wellbeing strategy. Here are examples of just how effective they can be:

    The national insurance (NI) rise this year will affect the average earner to the tune of around £250, while the average UK household spends around £5,000 a year on food. By encouraging employees to pay for their grocery shopping using gift cards through an employee discount scheme, an average earner could save enough money to completely mitigate the NI rise this year. 

    Even the cost of fuel increase can be mitigated through employee discounts. With the average UK motorist spending £100 a month on petrol (around 60 litres), a discount of just 2p per litre would save the average motorist nine litres of petrol. Depending on what car you drive, that would take you from London to Dunstable and even as far as Northampton, for free.

    Employers will feel the sting of poor employee wellbeing
    Rising living costs are a societal and an economic issue that is increasingly challenging for employers as they deal with the impact of this crisis in the workplace. As costs remain high, employers will see an increase in stress, lower mood, higher absence rates and even higher turnover as employees seek out higher pay. The data tells us millions of employees need and want more financial assistance from their employer. Those employers that offer to help bear the load of this crisis for their people will reap many benefits. 

    Originally published on REBA

    Gethin Nadin

    Chief Innovation Officer @ Benefex

    Shared from

    Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority

    The theme of World Mental Health Day 2022 was to ‘make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’ and, in response to this, Wrkit organised a talk focused on a review of research conducted throughout the pandemic. There were 214 registered for this 30-minute talk, showing a real interest and appetite for understanding mental health and ‘where are we now’, which was the title of the talk.

    In the webinar, Wrkit reviewed a variety of research including the Global Working From Home survey (GWFH) conducted by Wrkit and research partners Truthsaysers which was Published in March 2021, and ran from Aug 2020 to March 2021 – covering 9 months of the Pandemic. The survey results were truly global, reflecting the challenges that employees were dealing with while working from home during that first initial lockdown.

    The research was built on the 6 wellbeing pillars of Mind, Work, Life, Active, Food and Sleep and was designed to not only reflect the traditional cognitive survey responses in what employees thought about WFH, but also how they felt about working from home during the pandemic.

    The top scoring positive reactions to WFH were:

    While the most negative reactions to WFH at that time were:

    During the session we also conducted a poll with attendees to get a snapshot picture of where things are at now, post pandemic and 114 attendees answered all 4 questions. The results were:

    The results show that for the majority of attendees their exercise has either stayed the same, improved or greatly improved – 73, while roughly a third has reduced by 35.

    Attendees here acknowledged that in general their sleep had either remained the same or improved – 77, while 29 had reduced post pandemic, again showing close to 1/3.

    Attendees again acknowledged that in general their diet had remained the same or improved – 74, with 34 saying that their diet has been affected.

    To note here, in answering the question on diet during the pandemic through the GWFH survey, participants cognitively answered that their diet was not greatly unchanged, however there was a significant cognitive dissonance appearing with regard to how they felt about their diet. This highlighted that in actual fact, participants were more inclined to answer the question on diet more positively than was the case. The large cognitive dissonance indicated that their diet was in fact being impacted negatively during the pandemic.

    The final question was the most significant question asked during the webinar, and the results show a clear divide in the answers.

    The results here are close but, for the first time, clearly show a negative result – 62/ 48 towards attendees mental health not improving.

    A larger review of data

    Prior to the world mental health day talk, the team at Wrkit spent some time reviewing data generated from their wellbeing app POWR – Positive Occupational Wellbeing Resources – looking back over a number of years’ worth of data and covering a significant part of the pandemic timeline.

    The sample assessment date reviewed was:

    • 115 companies
    • 28117 user sample
    • 6 wellbeing pillars
    • Dec 2020 – Sept 2022
    • Benchmark 70

    A significant result to note was that the team discovered that during this pandemic period, there were over double the amount of people accessing the wellbeing app for this cohort of 115 companies. The results highlighted a number of ongoing issues for employees post pandemic, while also showing improvement in a number of areas.

    The Work pillar in POWR has a number of questionnaires for staff to help rate wellbeing in their work environment, and a significantly positive increase has been seen in two key areas as shown above. This indicates a positive reaction staff are having to their workplace during and post pandemic, which is most obviously recognised in relation to people they work with. This is an important result as it highlights the work that employers have put into supporting staff during the pandemic and keeping colleagues connected.

    Another important result is seen in how staff have rated their sleep.

    Due to the reduction in commuting during and post pandemic, staff have responded by highlighting, as they did in the global WFH survey, that their sleep habits have changed for the positive and they are appreciating having more time in the morning and commuting less.

    A more recent trend, that is growing post pandemic is that, although staff are appreciating the reduced commuting time, their quality of sleep is not necessarily increasing. Post pandemic, some of the challenges that staff are facing that may lead to this lower score are the levels of work stress and demands that are challenging staff wellbeing and risking burnout.

    The most significant negative results were seen in relation to the answers to the Mind questionnaires. Throughout the pandemic the scores in the Mind pillar were most noticeably lower than the bench mark score of 70, however the clear trend that is being shown over this research timeframe is that staff are rating themselves as ‘feeling overwhelmed’, while scores for being ‘stuck in a rut’ have fared even worse still.

    This reflects the poll scores for mental health conducted during the webinar with 56.4% saying that their mental health has not improved post pandemic.


    The large amount of data being reviewed post pandemic through the POWR wellbeing app, allows organisations to get a good understanding of the areas their staff are improving in and areas where they are struggling. It is clear that employees are facing a variety of different challenges now in a post pandemic world and the support landscape is shifting again.

    Each area that POWR signposts for support can be explored with staff and the need for new recommendations for support are necessary, allowing for organisations to target interventions and monitor their success over time with new hybrid and remote working challenges.

    Jason Brennan, Director of Wellbeing & Leadership @ Wrkit

    Maximising the Value of Your Wellbeing Initiatives with Content

    The Health Belief Model

    The Health Belief Model is a great example of how content can be so powerful in driving healthy behaviour change. Whether it is increasing physical activity, saving money, healthy eating, or practicing mindfulness, educational content helps to facilitate the transferral of knowledge from healthcare professionals and experts to the consumer.

    According to the model, health-related knowledge feeds into self-efficacy: which refers to expectations about one’s ability to do the behaviour. If they feel it is worthwhile for their health and that they are capable of executing it, they are more likely to perform the behaviour. Over time, this results in the improved health outcomes that the individual learned about in the first place.

    So, for example, if a person is provided with content on the health benefits of engaging in 30 minutes of brisk walking everyday such that it reduces stress levels, lowers blood sugar, and improves heart health, they now have this health-related knowledge. They might consider whether this is feasible and decide that they are capable of walking 30 minutes to work every day instead of driving. Making this a habit over time then leads to the aforementioned improved health outcomes. But if we take a step back – one vital determinant for people to understand the content is adequate health literacy.

    Health Literacy

     According to Sorensen et al. (2012), health literacy:

    “entails people’s knowledge, motivation, and competence to access, understand, appraise, and apply health information in order to make judgements and decisions in everyday life concerning healthcare, disease prevention, and health promotion to maintain or improve quality of life during the life course.”

    So, health outcomes really do improve as health literacy advances – but it’s not always easy. There are constant challenges from limited technology and reading skills to misleading and biased information online. Both the employer and the content providers can play a crucial role in addressing these hurdles. A growing body of research indicates that limited health literacy can actually lead to adverse health outcomes. For example, research indicates that between one-third to one-half of all adults struggle with health literacy – and 87% of people need help with health-related information.

    The same goes for financial literacy. A meta-analysis of 126 impact evaluation studies found that financial education significantly impacts financial behaviour.

    • Access

    Advances in technology mean that individuals can accesshealth-related information and content wherever, whenever they want. With modern health solutions and apps, employers can support their employees regardless of their geographic location. This removes physical barriers that traditionally impeded access to healthcare support and resources and allows for a more equal workplace that supports employees across the globe.

    There is an increasing number of individuals downloading and using health-related apps to inform themselves on health and wellbeing related advice and content. According to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence Data, there were 290 million downloads of Health and Fitness apps in Europe in 2021. Further, in recent research by Benefex, we assessed over 1,600 employees regarding their use of digital health and wellbeing apps. We found that while employees use a variety of apps to support their health and wellbeing, the most commonly reported shortcoming of these apps was cost. In today’s economic crisis, spending 15 pound or euro a month on a wellbeing app is putting extra financial pressure on already stressed-out individuals. Employers can support their employees with this financial burden by providing them with the health and wellness apps they want to access, but may not necessarily be able to afford.

    • Understand

    While it is vital that health-related content is evidence-based, it should be delivered in layman terms. The content provider should deliver health-related advice so that it is easy to digest and understand. Simple language works best here. In fact, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends using a universal precautions approach; assume all consumers are at risk of not understanding education and instruction.

    This recommendation is applicable across a range of domains. Just as there is no point in an employee reading the benefits of high intensity interval training for lowering systolic blood pressure without an understanding of what these terms mean in layman terms, there is also no point in someone being told to put away 5% of their annual income for their pension if they don’t understand why this is important.

    The consumer of the content mustbe able to comprehend the advice before they can 1) decide whether they agree with it and feel they have the self-efficacy to follow it, and 2) apply it to their everyday life.

    • Appraise

    The employer is becoming increasingly important in delivering trustworthy information to their employees. From the employer’s perspective, it’s vital that they ensure they are using a wellbeing provider who only delivers evidence-based, regularly reviewed advice in content on health and finance. Rather than opinion pieces that are provided by social media influencers and celebrities, they must ensure it is research-oriented and trustworthy content.

    On the POWR wellbeing tool, we have a wide range of content curators who are experts in their field, including physiotherapists, psychotherapists, personal trainers, nutritionists, financial wellbeing experts, and environmentalists.

    • Apply

    While educational content is vital in providing the knowledge necessary to facilitate positive behaviour change, pairing this content with a diverse range of digital interventions is key in creating long-term healthy habits. On POWR, we have found that a combination of educational content and digital interventions has led to optimal wellbeing outcomes. Our most popular content items in the past 6 months have ranged from articles, soundscapes, webinars, podcasts, and healthy recipes.

    Diverse content can help to solve diverse problems. As much as populations are diverse, people are also diverse, so they need appropriate, trustworthy content that they can apply to their everyday lives.

    Louise Nixon

    Psychologist and Digital Wellbeing Manager at Wrkit

    Employers failing to support workers during cost-of-living crisis

    Only 12% believe employers are effectively supporting their financial wellbeing 

    New research from Zellis, the HR and payroll specialists, shows that businesses are falling behind in their responsibility to protect the wellbeing of their employees during the cost-of-living crisis. With living costs increasing to record levels, nearly half (45%) of employees say that money worries are affecting them at work yet just 12% say their employer is very effective at supporting their financial wellbeing.  

    The research shows that the cost-of-living crisis in the UK and Ireland is causing anxiety amongst employees, with 73% now more worried about their finances than they were prior to the pandemic.  This number rises to 80% of those with lower numeracy (an assessment of the ability to understand and use maths in daily life), and 81% of those with a diagnosed mental health condition. This shows that employers must take active steps to protect their most vulnerable employees from further avoidable anxiety around their finances. 

    Worries over navigating the cost-of-living crisis are also being compounded by uncertainty over the accuracy and reliability of pay, with 38% of employees admitting that they are not fully confident that they understand their payslips, or could spot an error.  

    Almost half of respondents (49%) reported that payroll errors, such as being paid late or the incorrect amount, would have a negative impact on their mental health. A additional 36% say checking their payslip makes them feel uneasy and worried about their finance, with a quarter (24%) saying this is because they really don’t understand it.  

    “This research sends a clear message to employers: you must do more to support your people through this crisis,” said Gethin Nadin, Chief Innovation Officer at Zellis. “As the cost-of-living continues to hit workers hard, employers must do everything they can to ease anxiety about pay and bridge the numeracy gap to ensure employees are making the best money decisions. This means helping employees to understand their payslips, ensuring financial information is clear and concise, and making employees feel comfortable about raising concerns or questions about pay.”  

    With new increases in how much national insurance UK employees pay, and a corrective relief measure for some coming in July, having confidence that you are getting taxed effectively has never been more important. Unfortunately, nearly half (48%) of respondents admit that they wouldn’t be able to identify an error in their tax code. This highlights a worrying potential mental health timebomb, as more than half (51%) claim that a mistake in their pay would lead to stress and anxiety and half say it would lead to financial difficulties, such as not being able to pay rent. 

    “At a time when so much is out of employees control when it comes to their money, its clear that employers need to do more to help their people overcome the challenges of a lack of numeracy and financial stress, but it is also on them to ensure that their payroll is accurate and timely,” said Gethin Nadin. “This research shows the implications of simple payroll mistake on employees can be incredibly serious, and these errors are significantly magnicifed during this time of uncertainty.” 

    To introduce financial wellbeing best practice and address the clear need for help, Zellis has partnered with Money Helper to support the five million plus employees who currently use Zellis solutions for their payroll and HR needs. Money Helper is a UK Government organisation that provides free budgeting and debt management tools to people in the UK.  

    Download the full Payroll and Financial Wellbeing Report. 

    Zellis commissioned this comprehensive independent research amongst employees, conducting 2,010 interviews with employees across the UK and Ireland at a non-management level.  

    This article was originally published on on June 22

    About Zellis  

    Zellis is the largest provider of payroll and HR software, and Managed Services, to UK and Ireland-based companies with over 1,000 employees. With over 50 years’ experience and over 2,500 employees, we count nearly half (45%) of the FTSE 100 as customers and pay over five million employees a year. We are also the people behind ResourceLink, now part of Zellis HCM Cloud, which won the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professional’s (CIPP) Payroll Software of the Year Award for 2020 and 2021.   

    About Gethin Nadin 

    Gethin is an award-winning psychologist who has been helping some of the world’s largest organisations to improve their employee experience and wellbeing for two decades. Gethin leads innovation and thought leadership for the Zellis group. In 2018, Gethin published his first book – the HR bestseller ‘A World of Good: Lessons From Around the World in Improving the Employee Experience’, which has gone on to inspire HR and Reward teams at some of the world’s best known brands. In 2022, Gethin co-authored his second book ‘Das Menschliche Büro – The Human(e) Office’ a collaboration between leading academics and workplace professionals from across Europe. 

    Employee experience to show your people the purpose in what they do

    People are searching for caring employers that will support them through difficult times. Now is the time to deliver an employee experience that gives them what they need

    The long-lasting effects of the global downturn in 2008, the Covid-19 pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis are making people – particularly the under 40s, who have suffered particularly badly economically over the past few years – demand a new narrative from employers about their purpose and why they’re worth working for. 

    The employee experience takes centre-stage

    At the European Pharmaceutical Market Research Association (EphMRA) annual conference this week, I emphasised the important of the employee experience in meeting employees’ evolving requirements and helping organisations to attract, retain and nurture them. 

    A great experience, which has employee wellbeing at its heart, is critical for today’s employees. And employers are responding to this by redesigning their employee experience to focus more on fairness and equality; they see employee wellbeing as crucial to sustaining operations. Fair pay and treatment, wellbeing, sustainability, social impact, diversity and ownership are all playing out in this new employee experience. 

    Employees now want and expect to work for an employer who takes care of them and their wellbeing. It’s now the number one priority for jobseekers. It’s also one of the five strategic priorities that HR leaders identify as critical for today’s hybrid workplace (along with employee experience, agile work practices, digitisation of HR, and diversity, equality and inclusion). 

    But it’s not all one-way traffic. Research by McKinsey & Company shows that employees who get the purpose they want from their work enjoy better outcomes in and out of the workplace than their less satisfied colleagues. Generally, they report having more energy, resilience and satisfaction; at work, they report being more satisfied, committed and engaged and achieving more – all good news for the bottom line. 

    4 steps to success 

    There are four things that you can begin doing straight away to show that your organisation provides meaningful, purposeful work within a caring and compassionate environment – and that they should bring their talents to you rather than the competition. 

    The first, of course, is to show them their purpose by talking about yours. Communicate your values and mission clearly, engagingly and regularly, so they can see how their purpose aligns with yours. The more closely the two align, the more satisfied and productive your people will be. 

    The second is to share your stories and engage your people in telling them. A great way to achieve step one is to tell engaging stories about your organisation and the good it does, whether internally for its employees or externally for the wider community. When employees see for themselves what your purpose looks like in action, it becomes easier for them to connect with you.  

    The third is to put collaboration for good at the heart of what you do. This sits at the core of compassionate capitalism – as DeVos made clear in his book, doing good (compassion) is the ultimate aim of capitalism, not profit – so it must sit at the heart of your organisation, too, if you want to attract and retain the best talent. 

    And the fourth is to prioritise employee wellbeing. This is enormously important, because employees struggling with the challenges of the last couple of years are looking to their employers for support. Put your benefits programme to work with options that are useful, tailored and user-friendly; whether it’s free financial education, access to mental health support, or opportunities to save money, find out what your people need and deliver it.  

    This is a huge opportunity to support your employees and give them a sense of purpose at a crucial time. Your investment in their wellbeing and in delivering an exceptional employee experience will produce a significant return for everyone.  

    Gethin Nadin

    Chief Innovation Officer @ Benefex

    Gethin is an award-winning psychologist who has been helping some of the world’s largest organisations to improve their employee experience and wellbeing for two decades. The last 10 years have been spent working as part of the senior leadership team here at Benefex where Gethin leads our thought leadership in the market.

    As a frequent writer and speaker on employee experience and employee wellbeing, Gethin has been featured in Forbes, The Guardian, The Huffington Post and The Financial Times as well as all major HR, Reward and Pensions publications. Gethin has been listed as one of the world’s top 101 Global Employee Experience Influencers for the last two years running, is listed on the Employee Engagement Powerlist, is one of LinkedIn’s top global contributors and an Inspiring Leader 2021. Gethin is also a regular keynote speaker, Chair of the UK Government-backed Engage for Success Wellbeing Thought Action Group, a Key Stakeholder in UK Government Transport Employee Wellbeing KPI’s and a Fellow at the RSA.

    In 2018, Gethin published his first book – the HR bestseller ‘A World of Good: Lessons From Around the World in Improving the Employee Experience’, which has gone on to inspire HR and Reward teams at some of the world’s best known brands. In 2022, Gethin co-authored his second book ‘Das Menschliche Büro – The Human(e) Office’ a collaboration between leading academics and workplace professionals from across Europe.

    This article was first published on

    Managing the fall out – supporting staff during the Ukrainian war

    2022 has begun with the ending of the global pandemic and now the very challenging and ever unfolding conflict in Ukraine. While wellbeing and mental health have been key factors for all organisations in the last number of years, these events require many businesses and leaders to once again pivot to meet these new challenges.

    It is a testament to our living and working in a truly global economy and a globally integrated workforce that the weight of this crisis is far reaching. Companies working outside of Russia have had to examine how they work with Russian companies and clients, as well as staff and colleagues impacted by the crisis in Ukraine.

    While it has brought home how connected we are today, it is also highlighting how many people can be affected by an event that is happening in another part of the world. As consumers for example, many of us are being affected in a very direct way with seeing the prices at the petrol pumps increasing daily. Businesses may see many of their staff are also directly affected in their day-to-day interactions with other teams and other colleagues personally connected with this conflict.

    Business Decisions

    Once the position of the Business has been determined with regard the level of impact of this crisis, the Human Resources department and all managers need to respond to this decision quickly. Appropriate communications and policies need to be put in place, alongside the challenging task of both reassuring staff about ongoing business requirements during this conflict, while also putting in place sanctions that will certainly affect business as usual and in some cases dramatically affect certain teams.

    On the Ground

    Added to this is the more complex world of human relationships. It is here, above all else, that care needs to be taken. While many of us may be very close to and familiar with a number of our colleagues, in a large organisation there are many more that we do not know very well and do not know very much about and therefore we won’t know their family of origin, their place of birth, their ancestry, and indeed their identification choices – let alone those of their partners and wider families.

    Global teams mean global influences and while the conflict in Ukraine continues to escalate, it is very important for managers and staff to be provided with support that adequately reflects the dilemma that many teams and a wider variety of staff now find themselves in, when being asked not to work with Russian businesses and Russian teams.

    Effectively one day business as usual has become no business at all with a certain region. This will create many questions, a fair bit of discomfort and quite a few difficult conversations.

    Deeper still, it is difficult to know who of the staff identify with being Russian, or identify with friends and relatives in Ukraine, or who identify with other counties that are also touched by a history of conflict?  What of the other colleagues and teammates who now find themselves caught up in this turmoil? How best as a business can you respond to them?

    Effective Support

    The reality is there is no quick solution. While the fall out of the invasion of Ukraine sinks in and the future of the war is uncertain, it is time to think about what to put in place for staff to help them navigate this new territory. While many companies have access to Employee Assistance Programmes, it is worthwhile to consider implementing a programme of specific training and a set of dialogues relating to this conflict. Proactively helping to both normalise many of the emotions and reactions that staff and leaders will be feeling, while also providing effective support around how to have the necessary conversations and how to be mindful of people’s individual experience of this crisis.

    The importance of this support is to create insights for staff. To help them keep in mind not just the natural reaction to ‘what’ is happening, but a more intricate understanding of the ‘who’ is being affected, in a wider sense, which is not always obvious.

    A little can go a long way, and proactive support in this area can curb a lot of distress. Avoiding the hurt that be experienced when we neglect to consider what is being said about the conflict in the context of the audience.

    The role of the leader once again is key here, like it was during the challenges of Covid, and the need to be able to provide the key messaging to help staff navigate these turbulent times once again.

    If you and your staff would like some supportive training, email  

    Seeking Advice from Inspirational Women?

    Look no further this International Women’s Day

    The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘break the bias’. In celebration of the day, Wrkit’s Digital Wellbeing Manager, Louise Nixon, reached out to some of the inspirational women that she has had the pleasure of working with over the years, asking if they had any advice they would like to share. Below are some truly inspiring pearls of wisdom that were expressed by these successful women.

    “I believe that you have to live something to truly learn what you want and what’s best for you. Just over 5 years ago I made a career change after 20 years working in engineering. I went back to college and qualified in Nutrition. If I was to offer some advice to my younger self, I would say, do what you enjoy, what you gravitate to naturally. Working in something that you love, makes it easier to get up and face your working day.

    I would also say what you do now, does not have to define you forever. You always have options, to change, retrain, educate, and start again, doing something different. You do not have to stay in one career, you can plan and make a change. When starting again you are not starting from zero, you bring life skills and life lessons, which you will always use, often in ways you would never have thought possible.”

    Marie Donnellan, Registered Assoc Nutritionist and Director at Ciall Health

    “It is also OK to be not OK as a Leader. In a week where I have struggled and felt truly alone that doesn’t mean I stay there. True resilience is that when you feel alone or broken, you have the toolkit to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back to your awesome self. So, this International Women’s Day, I wish you to find that toolkit, mirror the people you admire, gather your strength around you like a clock and have the courage to ask for help or just to talk. So be amazing in 2022.”

    Kate Martin (FCIPD), Regional HR Head – Europe, Russia & CIS at VFS Global

    Research by Venture Capitalist Mass Challenge showed that for every $1 investment in businesses run by a men-only Board generated 31c, for every business with women on the Board it’s 76c – showing that women are statistically proven to be key contributors to business success.

    With this in mind (and many more reports that are instantly searchable), always look at the job description and see the things you can already do – not the things you can’t. You’ll get much further, much faster and are statistically proven to achieve much more.”

    Megan Sowney, Group Managing Director at Wrkit

    “Don’t be afraid to try new things and push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to fail, either: it’s often how we learn the most. Ask for help where you need it but be confident in your own abilities too. You bring something else to the table that no one else does, in your own unique blend of skills and experience, and that is something to be celebrated.”

    Kathryn Kendall (FCIPD), Chief People Officer at Benefex

    “On reflection, I feel the biggest lesson I have learnt along the way has been in learning to understand and set personal boundaries. When you are showing up every day out of alignment with your beliefs, your values, what motivates you, and rewards you, it manifests as stress, anxiety and ultimately burnout. It took an episode of extreme burnout for me to sit down and really ask myself honestly, ‘How do I want to feel every day?’, ‘What are the behaviours I am not OK with?’, ‘Does this work make me happy?’

    Being honest with myself about what I would and wouldn’t accept gave me the confidence and integrity to push back when I felt those boundaries were being challenged.  I have also learned that people are not mind readers, you have to take responsibility to say how you feel in situations where you are uncomfortable. It can feel scary to begin with, but the more you practise it, from a place of integrity, the easier it becomes.

    So, take a Moment, take the time to really be honest with yourself about what feels right and know that a ‘No’ can take you just as far, and make you as happy, as a ‘Yes’.”

    Fiona McKinnon, CEO & Co Founder of Moment Company

    This International Women’s Day let’s celebrate women’s achievement and recognise that together we can #BeatTheBias. Share this article with a colleague, friend, sister, mother, or daughter to inspire and motivate them.

    Social Isolation and How Our Ability to Connect Has Been Challenged

    Reopening and Reconnecting

    With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, it has given us the chance to socially reconnect with people we may not have seen in a long time. While this is an exciting stage in our lives following the lockdowns, it may also be quite overwhelming for some. We have been socially isolating for a long time and the transition to reconnecting with others may take a bit of time to readjust.

    The Wrkit Global Working From Home (WFH) Survey gathered feedback from employees who were WFH across many countries during the pandemic. This has allowed for a deeper understanding about the challenges and benefits employees faced while WFH, particularly the impact on employees living away from their home country. The survey revealed that many people WFH in their home countries did at times feel lonely but also rated feeling more connected to friends and family than feeling isolated.

    Researchers have found that there are a wide range of benefits that stem from regularly connecting with others, particularly others we care about. For example, it has been discovered that social connectedness helps improve quality of life, relieve harmful levels of stress, boost mental health, and significantly decrease the risk of suicide.

    Tips for Avoiding Social Isolation and Staying Connected

    • Check in with People You Know

    When you’ve been isolating, it’s easy to feel that people you know are doing just fine and may not like to hear from you. This is a common reinforcing negative loop brought on by loneliness, and it’s usually untrue. Challenging these negative assumptions is an important first step and it is better to just go ahead and reach out to people you know and see what happens.

    • Practice Self-Care

    It goes without saying that if feeling isolated or lonely it is important to maintain a good level of self-care. Finding time to be social, alongside time to rest well, eat well, getting exercise and taking adequate breaks all combine to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Getting back into being social again can mean more alcohol intake, late nights and rich food; so best to be mindful of balance as you readjust to an open society again.

    • Choose the Right Living and Working Situation

    If you are working from home and living alone and are finding that you are struggling with isolation and loneliness, take action to make changes and see what the options are. Although you might not be able to move house, or your normal working office space may have changed, it is important to plan ahead and find ways to meet with colleagues in person. This could be booking time in the office as it reopens or planning social gatherings.

    • Develop Friendships at Work

    Work relationships can help you to feel more connected to others. Overall, people with better co-worker relationships have lower self-reported loneliness scores. Ask a colleague if they would like to go for a coffee or, if you’re working from home, make the effort to give them a call rather than an email and share some casual chit-chat.

    • Find Ways to Participate in Your Community

    Social groups like book clubs, choirs, and sporting groups are a great source of social interaction. Anyone can feel isolated at times and, while this is ok, everyone can benefit from community and group participation.

    • Keep a Journal

    If you find you are struggling with feelings of social isolation, try writing down the thoughts that are going through your head. Then make a list of things that you enjoy doing and bring you happiness. These can be simple, small things like going for a walk, reading, or listening to music. When you notice negative thoughts and feelings creeping up, have a look in your journal and try one of your suggestions.

    It’s important to remember that just because you are feeling socially isolated and alone does not mean that you are alone. There are people that care and want to know how you are feeling. There simply are times that you might have to make the first move and although it may be challenging, it’s proven to pay off in the long run and staying connected is good for everyone.

    International Leadership Week: How can leaders look after their wellbeing?

    This week is International Leadership Week and offers a chance to reflect on the importance of leaders maintaining good mental health and wellbeing, considering the challenges faced by being in a leadership role, which have been exacerbated throughout the pandemic. Whilst there is considerable focus on how managers can enhance the wellbeing of their employees, we can’t forget about the leaders themselves. After all, they must be taking charge of their own wellbeing in order to continue to lead.

    Challenges faced by leaders

    For many leaders, the beginning of the pandemic posed significant challenges, including remote working and the requirement to make difficult decisions, such as placing employees on furlough or making redundancies. Now, employees are returning to the office and there is the new issue of the great resignation, meaning that leaders are having to constantly adapt and change their approach to ensure they continue to lead well and look after themselves and their employees. These differing challenges are likely to increase pressure on those at the top and create greater risk of burnout and poor mental health, so how can leaders ensure they look after themselves and why is it important?

    Why leaders need to look after their wellbeing

    It’s important that those in charge are managing their wellbeing for a number of reasons. In  high pressure positions, stress and burnout are common and preventing these responses is vital to maintaining a healthy body and mind. Moreover, poor wellbeing at the top can trickle down to influence others and lead to low morale, less productivity and consequently result in more pressure on leaders.

    How can leaders look after wellbeing?

    Look after mental and physical health

    Physical and mental wellbeing work in tandem and there must be a focus on both to ensure the maintenance of good health. This means that it’s important to be eating well, exercising on a regular basis, staying hydrated and getting enough sleep. Wrkit’s POWR platform is a great way to monitor all of these factors and keep track of progress on each path.

    Additionally, leaders need to be looking after their mind as well as their body. Practicing mindfulness is a good way to do this, or taking some time to relax through breathing exercises or release tension via yoga. Leaders are generally very busy people but it’s crucial to take some time to focus on the self and just five minutes a day can make a real difference to wellbeing.

    Take a break

    It’s often difficult to disconnect from work, particularly in the age of remote working, where the lines between working hours and leisure hours are often blurred. To avoid stress and burnout, it’s vital that leaders stick to their working hours as much as possible in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Whilst pressure may mean it’s tempting to carry on working late in the evenings or check emails at the weekend, this means that there is no break from work and is likely to worsen performance in the long run.

    Talk or write down feelings

    Although it’s reducing, there still remains some stigma around asking for help, this is especially prevalent with leaders through the idea that it shows weakness or inability to do the job well. However, it’s much more likely to set a good example of speaking up and prioritsing wellbeing that employees will really understand and appreciate. Everyone should be entitled to support, regardless of their status in a business.

    Talking to friends or colleagues about mental health can often be a daunting and difficult task, so it may instead be beneficial to write down thoughts and feelings, through the practice of journaling. This helps with clearing the mind, setting priorities and problem solving.


    Finally, it’s easy to remain focused on recognising and rewarding the hard work of employees, but leaders should remember to celebrate their own successes too.  Keeping the team’s morale up is important but recognising personal achievements helps to boost self-esteem and feelings of appreciation.

    To access resources to maintain great mental health and wellbeing visit  to request a POWR demo.