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Subcategories from this category: Citizenship

There’s no doubt about it. Wellbeing has gone mainstream.

We’re all doing it! As individuals, we’ve never been more interested in our own health and across the land (the world, even!) businesses are asking, “How do we get ready to embrace wellbeing and make it part of everyday life?”

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Last week, Cambridge University provoked much protest by inviting Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French National Party, to address a debating group.  The argument over her appearance is essentially an issue of free speech versus the duty of care that a university has towards its student body. Was this a rare opportunity to engage with - even learn from – an influential leader, or simply providing an audience to an individual whom many view as divisive at best?

It’s a question that may seem detached from the ‘everyday’, but it’s one that is raised in many different guises across society and in our places of work. At the most extreme end of the spectrum, the criminal law draws the line between freedom of speech and the harm and offence that it can cause to others, but outside of this it is the responsibility of organisations to define the realities of self-expression, through their policies and culture.

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I have just finished eleven days jury service. It was the first time I'd ever done it and quite an experience on a number of levels. During the final few days of my service, I happened to see the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show and their review of The 2012 Olympics reminded me of the simple joy felt by the Gamesmakers who freely volunteered their time to make the whole thing happen. From what I understand, the organisers worked hard to ensure that they not only contributed, but actively enjoyed the experience.

Quite a contrast to the atmosphere in the Jury waiting room (like a large doctor's waiting room) where I've spent most of the last fortnight. Since long before we ever hosted the Olympic Games (even the first time!), answering the call to be a crucial part of the criminal justice system was the orginal civic duty, albeit a non-voluntary one. And maybe that's the point, because I found none of the joy that was evident amongst the Gamesmakers last summer in the Crown Court.... In fact, in most cases quite the opposite. 

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Loud, proud, loyal

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As a Manchester City supporter of over 35 years, I was overwhelmed by my emotions as we have finally, in my life time, won the top prize in English football, the Premier League Championship. My four, long suffering kids who have followed them up and down the Leagues, were also stunned into silence in the 95th minute of the game, as the team produced a Hollywood ending to 44 years of drought!

There are several aspects of this occasion that made me reflect, as an occupational psychologist, on the workplace more generally. First, how loyal people can be to something as amorphous as a football team. The banners across the grounds read ‘Loud, proud and loyal’, and they were right. You could see this when City were relegated down to the old 2nd Division and their season ticket sales actually increased. The fans (insert stakeholders) knew they needed the financial resources to survive and claw their way back up. That belief and loyalty unfortunately is missing in many businesses today, particularly at a time when they need commitment as never before, as our economy continues to suffer in a prolonged recession. How can we bottle the loyalty, belief and commitment we find in the community of football fans, and transfer this to the British workforce, to management and trade unions, to the individual employees who can make UK PLC recover?

Second, we hear the pundits and managers of other teams decrying that City did it because of the vast sums of money they spent on players. It is certainly true that money can buy you talent, but management and leadership are about bringing these players together with a common purpose and sense of family. What we saw on the final Sunday of the Premier League was the product of an outstanding manager, who had the good fortune of being able to buy some of the best players but who created a ‘team’, a group of players who played for the greater good. As Machiavelli wrote in The Prince about the difficulty of change management and leadership: “It should be borne in mind that there is nothing more difficult to arrange, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating change...the innovator makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old order, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prospect under the new”.

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The world is one

Posted by on in Citizenship

This week I attended the World Economic Forum in Abu Dhabi, where I was a member of the Global Agenda Council on Health and Wellbeing.  The ‘great and the good’ from all over the world were there to explore the burning issues of our time, including the dire global economic crisis, poverty, sustainability, water shortages, social networking, ethnic tolerance, leadership and climate change.  Even though the academics, business leaders, politicians, non-governmental and global gurus were there to explore their particular area of expertise, they all understood the impact of these challenges on the individual human being.  There was a real concern for the quality of life of individuals, families, communities, businesses and populations on every continent.

Although these discussions can’t solve all of humanity’s problems, they can at least explore the possible alternative solutions, their costs and benefits, how they might be achieved and the likely scenarios for the future if we don’t deal with them.  It is wonderful to see people from all corners of the world coming together to try and understand not only the global challenges but also the different problems we are facing, from the under-developed to the developing to the developed worlds.  WEF may be perceived as a talking shop but it does achieve some good, and helps to drive global change on what some may think are intractable problems. This is a slow process but profound change always is.

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Cary CooperGood Day at Work®

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MD of Cary Cooper's business psychology firm, Robertson Cooper - for all things wellbeing, engagement and resilience at work.

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Professor Cary Cooper, Director and Founder of Robertson Cooper Ltd, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School.

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