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Brian Keane explains how understanding your sleeping pattern can boost your energy, improve your will power and benefit your general health.

In a study by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in three adults do not obtain the recommended hours of sleep. According to the NHS, not sleeping enough can lead to immune system problems, weight gain and mood disorders in extreme cases.

Sleep perchance to dream

We’ve all been told we need to get at least eight hours of sleep every night, but why is this?

Our bodies benefit from rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – the dream state we enter while sleeping. This usually occurs 90 minutes after the onset of sleep or 30 minutes if someone is sleep deprived.

Brian explains that we have about four or more REM periods per night, in 90 minute cycles. This is why if you sleep for seven and a half hours and wake up, you feel more refreshed as you have finished that ‘cycle’ and your body finds it easier to wake up. If you wake up after 10 hours, you’re mid-way through a cycle, which is why you feel tired and need a ‘kick’ just to get going the next morning.

“As someone who has been a notoriously poor sleeper, I understand how poor-quality sleep can affect people’s everyday lives. It can affect everything from your energy levels to your will power. We waste time falling asleep and spend hours in a light sleep state, which doesn’t have the same body and brain boosting benefits of deep and REM sleep. Your sleep quality is more beneficial than your sleep quantity,” he explains.

Given that sleep is an essential way of resting, recharging and nourishing both your body and mind, sustained, unbroken sleep and dreaming are part of our lifestyle that determine the quality of our health. There are two simple ways to improve your sleep and fall asleep properly:

Avoiding the ‘second wind’

There is a window from 10:45 PM to 11:00 PM when most people get naturally tired. This window differs a little based on each person or the current season, but it falls in line with the circadian cycle (the biological clock representing changes in our bodies). If you don’t go to sleep, you’ll get a cortisol (a steroid hormone) driven ‘second wind’ that can keep you awake until 2:00 AM or 3:00 AM.

If you can stick close to the circadian cycle and get to bed before 11:00 PM, you will wake up feeling more rested than if you get the same amount of sleep starting later.

Switch off your brain

You may feel unable to switch off from feelings of stress, tension and anxiety. As a London primary school teacher, who was running a personal training business on the side, it did become stressful and if I didn’t get enough sleep I wouldn’t be performing at my best.

“One thing that supported me massively was writing down all of the following day’s tasks before I got into my night-time routine. This helped my brain unwind, safe in the knowledge I wouldn’t forget my most important tasks. I still use to this method today to ensure I get the best sleep possible,” says Brian.

“By having knowledge of the tools and tips to help you sleep, you can make a massive difference in your quality of life and in finding out what works best for you and your body. By changing what you do before bed can give you an edge in all other aspects of your life.”

Brian Keane is the author of ‘The Fitness Mindset’. He reveals the best tips and strategies improve your health, lose weight and maintain the mindset to reach your body goals.

Source: ResponseSource


Self-help author Anne Jones offers her advice to those who find themselves depleted by negative energy at work.

At the end of a working day we all feel tired but if you’re finding that you are often close to exhaustion then there may be some hidden reasons for this.

You are very likely affected by the moods, thoughts and attitudes of the people you work with; bosses, colleagues, customers or agents; either in the building with you or on the end of a phone.

Their words, thoughts and emotions all have an energy charge and if their vibrations are low they can affect you – especially if you are sensitive.

If they suffer depression, sickness, grief, anxiety or anger they will be sending negative energies into the atmosphere. In some cases, they may be sucking out the positive vibes from your work community and your own personal energy field.

So, how can you avoid this and how can you protect yourself from energy depletion?

Here are ten ways that my clients and I have used for years. Tried and tested ways of preserving your precious life force!

1. Seal your energy field

Firstly, its essential you take responsibility for your own protection. Every morning before you go to work, even if your office is at home, seal your energy field. See a huge egg in front of you, open its door, step in, and close the door behind you. The walls are transparent but very, very thick and the emotional charge and negative thoughts of your colleagues and clients will bounce off the rubber-like outside walls. If you work with the public or have a particularly toxic work environment I suggest you do this several times during the day.

2. Clearing the vampire hooks

People who are needy, lacking confidence, feeling low, victimised or dispirited will naturally be looking for ways to be uplifted and gain more vitality. If you are a positive person with a strong mojo you will find these people will attach themselves to you. Their motives will be subconscious but physically they will hang about with you and feed from you emotionally and spiritually. They will tell you their problems and look for sympathy. Energetically they hook into you and suck your energy. At the end of every day sweep your hands over your body and intentionally clear away their hooks.

3. Duck the controllers

There are people who get their power from controlling others. If you’re sharing space with someone who throws tantrums, sulks, bullies, deliberately puts you down or makes you feel guilty then you need to take evasive action. When they use words that are intended to harm your confidence say to yourself a four letter word “DUCK”! Of course, you can use the other one too if you wish! See their thoughts, words and energy stream flowing over your head. Don’t take it personally.

4. Check your level of responsibility

Carrying burdens of people or sense of responsibility is a quick route to exhaustion. We all have responsibilities at work but make sure you’re not taking on those that are not for designated for you. If you try to fix the personal problems of your colleagues, you will pick up their emotional baggage. These burdens will drag you down and almost certainly give you aches and pains in your shoulders and back. Sweep your shoulders every day and take a step back to see if you are taking on responsibilities that are not yours to carry.

5. Dealing with angry outbursts

If you interface with the public or difficult people in the office or on the phone, then you will need a quick technique to withstand hostile and aggressive outbursts. Visualise a garage door that you slam down when you come under any form of strong negative attack. On the phone you can literally pull your hand down in front of you. Then step back. Even if your company may be at fault you don’t want to take the negativity into your own field.

6. Avoid infectious talk and people

Gossip and speculative chatter can become negatively infectious. Avoid the gossips at the coffee machine as every thought and word contributes positively or negatively to the energy field of the group. Keep your words positive and upbeat and avoid those that want to bring you or others down with their pessimism and negative attitudes.

7. Keep your own energy vital and strong

Use ways to make sure you are energetically, emotionally and spiritually as strong as you can be. Use quality essential oils in your bath, on your pillow or as a fragrance. Sandalwood and sage are protective and lavender will help to keep you calm when others are losing their heads! Wear crystals such as obsidian or tourmaline to create a defensive shield. Fresh air, good food, good uplifting company and exercise will help you to restock your energy reserves.

8. Clear the atmosphere

If the day has been filled with anxiety, highly charged emotions and depressive thoughts you need to clear and refresh the atmosphere. Spray around your workspace with a mix of water and essential oils such as peppermint, lemon and sage. If it’s your own office you can burn frankincense or sage as these will neutralise the negativity and raise the vibrations.

9. Clear your own energy field

At the end of a difficult day sweep your hands through your energy field, around your body, change your clothes and take a shower using lime or lemon shower gel. If you feel very tired use Epsom salts in the shower or bath as salt neutralises negativity. Finally spray yourself with a spray of peppermint or lemongrass essential oils.

10. Positive vibes

When you enter your workplace spend a few moments deliberately radiating out positive vibes. Visualise streams of smiley faces floating around the office. Put flowers on your desk. Face your colleagues and customers with a smile and hit them with your own positive vibes!

If you continue to feel depressed and lethargic at the end of every day, then ask yourself if you are in a job that really suits you. Try to find work that is a pleasure and not a burden or a heavy duty.

Anne JonesAnne Jones is an international author and key-note speaker. Her self-help books have been translated into 17 languages. With her down to earth style she helps her audiences and readers to find ways to cope with everyday problems and overcome the effects of trauma and loss. She gives practical advice on how to stay uplifted and energised as you face the challenges of life. See:





On average, managers recognise that their employees are spending nearly 14% of their week bored at work.

For an average full-time employee working an 7.5-hour day, this is equivalent to 5.3 hours a week.

The research by Robert Half was based on interviews with more than 400 hiring managers from companies across the UK.

Employees in London and the South East are the most bored, with managers estimating that staff spend over six hours a week uninterested in their jobs.

This is closely followed by the South West and Wales who are estimated to spend six hours a week bored at work.

Employees in Scotland are seen as less likely to be bored, with managers claiming their workforce spends just shy of four uninterested hours at work.


Region Amount of hours spent bored at work each week Percentage of time that employees spend bored at work
London and South East 6.4 17%
South West and Wales 6 16%
Midlands 5.6 15%
North 4.9 13%
Scotland 3.8 10%


Twiddling thumbs

For large companies with more than 500 employees, the amount of time that employees spend bored at work jumps to just over seven hours. This is the equivalent of nearly a full working day.

In comparison, employees in medium-sized organisations are estimated to spend almost half that time (nearly four hours a week) uninterested in their work.

Managers highlighted the reasons that employees are most likely to be bored during the course of the week.

Over a third confessed that:

  • work was not interesting enough (35%)
  • staff don’t feel challenged (32%)
  • there is a lack of diversity on offer within the role (30%)

Inefficient internal processes could also be to blame, with one in three saying there are too many meetings that are poorly executed.

“With the current skills shortage, managers need to focus efforts on keeping the role interesting to boost employee engagement and ultimately support higher retention,” said Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half UK.

“To ensure employees perform to the best of their ability and remain interested in their jobs, employers need to introduce greater variety by giving workers the opportunity to develop new skills or take on additional responsibilities. It’s important to remember that employees who are more interested in their jobs are likely to make a greater contribution to the organisation and contribute to long-term success.”

Source: Robert Half UK

What’s keeping IT professionals awake at night?

Data storage, data access and data sharing.

Compliance, regulation and the unpredictable behaviour of employees have the biggest impact on data security, according to a new Concensus survey.

Commissioned by HANDD Business Solutions, the findings are launched alongside its new Advisory Paper – ‘Securing the Journey of Your Data’. This tackles the issue of data protection and provides organisations with an insight into the challenges and solutions associated with securing data on its journey through the company.

Rules and regulation

The survey of 304 IT professionals shows that 21% believe regulations, legislation and compliance will be one of the greatest business challenges to impact data security.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is causing real concern among professionals in their bid to be compliant by the deadline, less than 12 months away. GDPR will not only raise the privacy bar for companies across the EU, but will also impose extra data protection burdens on them.

HANDD CEO and Co-Founder Ian Davin commented: “Companies must change their mindset and look at data, not as a fungible commodity, but as a valuable asset. Data is more valuable than a pot of gold, which puts companies in a challenging position as the stewards of that data. C-suite executives must understand the data protection challenges they face and implement a considered plan and methodical approach to protecting sensitive data.”

Worryingly, 41% assign the same level of security resources and spend for all company data, regardless of importance. Analysing and documenting the characteristics of each data item is a vital part of its journey through an organisation. A robust data classification system will see all data tagged with markers defining useful attributes. This includes sensitivity level or a retention requirement and ensuring that an organisation understands completely which data requires greater levels of protection.

“Many organisations have no insight into the data that they hold and so don’t understand which data is worth heavy investment and which isn’t so the reality is that they could be spending as much on securing the lunch menu as they are on securing their customers’ data,” explains Danny Maher, CTO at HANDD.

Proper protection

While 43% think that employees are an organisation’s greatest asset, more than a fifth (21%) believe the behaviour of employees and their reactions to social engineering attacks, which can trick them into sharing user credentials and sensitive data, also poses a big challenge to data security.

“Employees are probably your biggest asset, yet they are also your weakest link, and so raising user awareness and improving security consciousness are hugely important for companies that want to drive a culture of security throughout their organisation,” adds Danny Maher.

Storage is also a key problem area, with more than a third (35%) citing that ensuring data is stored securely as their biggest challenge and most likely to keep them awake at night. A data record’s classification will enable a company to make these decisions automatically and definitively, dictating its location and whether an encryption policy should apply.

Having stored data to comply with its security policy, a company must ensure that an access management system is in place. This system must understand roles and responsibilities and allow users to see only the information they need. In HANDD’s survey, less than half (45%) of IT professionals are confident they have an identity access management process in place that dictates different privileges for different users depending on their roles and responsibilities. A further 15% have no access management system in place at all.

Source: Origin Communications


There’s enough out there on the “perfect” profile to make your head spin. So no sense me adding to it. But perhaps I can complement it.

Here are 6 neuroscience-backed considerations for your next perfect profile.

Set the Frame

Our brain loves to generalise and categorise. A place for everything; and everything in its place. To have our profile hit home and entice further reading and consideration, we need to set the right frame from the outset.

For your next profile: right beneath your name (which I hope is already the first and biggest thing on your profile), add a descriptor (“Management Consultant”, “Research Analyst”, “Programme Manger” etc.) that you can legitimately claim and that most closely matches the role you’re going for. And use the descriptor of their language, not yours.


Future Focus

Our brain loves to imagine the future and get solutions-focused. When it does that, it creates new connections and pathways; dreams-up new insights; and releases positive neurotransmitters like dopamine and adrenaline. So we feel good and want to take action.

For your next profile: move away from dull, backward-looking renditions of past roles and responsibilities. And instead, dig-out evidence that links what you have done with what you will do for your next employer. Give them a guarantee of future performance that will interest and excite them. Your “Personal Promise”.

Home Runs Only, Please

So, this sounds obvious: because you’re not going to litter your profile with issues and setbacks. But we can easily go the other way: and list every single small win, ever. And whilst the temptation might be to think: some achievements is good; more is better. Know this: the brain doesn’t sum what it knows about you; it averages it.

For your next profile: remind yourself that less is more. Say 1 or 2 superb things about yourself and what you’ve achieved. And it’ll have far more brain-based impact than 1 or 2 superb achievements, diluted by 3 or 4 mediocre achievements.

Showcase Your Competencies

Our brain loves novelty and interest. It loves to have its interest piqued; and made to make new connections; all while being kept safe enough to explore. In the context of a profile, we can do that by showcasing our key differentiators: our competencies.

For your next profile: really distinguish yourself from the rest of the crowd by NOT burying your differentiating experience and expertise within a listed career history. Instead, showcase your competencies (how you bring to bear your skills, knowledge and abilities to deliver a result) as stand-alone headings, followed by 2 or 3 stellar examples that evidence that competency.

Succinct. Specific. Scannable

Our thinking brain is limited in its capacity and extremely energy intensive. And so it avoids the threat of too much new thinking. For your profile, it means your reader’s brain doesn’t want to spend time and energy on this.

For your next profile: make it super brain-friendly by adopting 3 simple rules: succinct; specific; scannable. Get to the essence of your offer and build your profile around that small but potent handful of differentiators. And don’t forget to format accordingly to make them stand out.

30 Seconds to Impress

Our brain makes a decision before “we” do. In the blink of an eye, we’ve decided. At which point, we invest the time to justify our already-made decisions.

For your next profile: run it through your own 30-second test. If you’ve not taken a look at your profile for a while: perfect. If you’re working on it right now, finish it and put it to one side before coming back to it a day later. Grab a pen and paper for notes: and then open your profile. What do you notice? What impression do you get? What screams out? Who is the owner of this profile? And now make some notes to inform your next edit.

SOURCE: Dan Beverly

Dan BeverlyDan Beverly is a leadership and performance coach, helping high-achieving professional women embrace the pivotal career moments.

For more top tips from Dan Beverly, check out LID Radio Episode 32: The Secret To Successful Career Strategies.

46% of Brits say they are “fine” with having this “disgusting” object in their kitchen…


Domestic appliance repair company asked 2,000 people in the UK where their washing machine is kept, following a heated debate about the topic on social media.

The question came just days after property presenter Kirstie Allsopp responded to a post from an American journalist on twitter, confused with the location of this appliance in some British homes.

Allsopp’s tweet stated “It is disgusting, my life’s work is in part dedicated to getting washing machines out of the kitchen.”

Practical placement

Go Assist’s research found that 46% of british people disagree with the TV personality, admitting they keep their washing machine in the kitchen and are absolutely fine with it being there.

A retweet by the presenter explained that it was mainly due to hygiene reasons that she holds this strong belief. “Never understood how food prep area = dirty socks. Never kitchen. Never.”

Only 12% of respondents stated that while their washing machine was in their kitchen they were unhappy about this and wish it could be somewhere else, if space permitted.

When asked where washing machines should be kept if a homeowner has no utility room, Allsopp replied: “Bathroom, hall cupboard, airing cupboard.”

A fifth of survey respondents said this is where their appliance is kept and a further 3% of respondents said they keep their washing machine in their bedroom.

Kirsty later joked “Can I safely move away from Twitter for the evening without everyone having a white goods wig out?”


Source: GoAssist

Acknowledging and celebrating something we have accomplished after having worked hard for a number of consecutive days increases our motivation.

It simply makes us feel good.

The value of celebrating these small victories and accomplishments that are part of our everyday lives has been shown in research done by Teresa Amabile, to mention one researcher interested in the topic, whom I have referred to once in a while.

I therefore encourage you to find a way to reward yourself throughout your work – a way that will motivate you and make it easier to establish new habits for improving your structure.


Don’t just move on and on

But it can be hard to know what we ought to reward ourselves with. I personally tend to take the recent accomplishment for granted and just move on to the next challenge. On one hand, the accomplishing of something gives a sense of reward in itself, but if we were to celebrate and emphasize our progress, how would we go about doing so? Since ”patting yourself on the back” is just a metaphor, how do we mark the occasion?


What some people do

I recently asked a group of people who I believe are good at celebrating the small victories in their everyday lives how they go about celebrating. Here is a selection of their replies:

“I buy myself surprise gifts”

“I say Thank You when I wake up and before I fall asleep”

“I order a double espresso from a nice café”

“I have a nice dinner”

“I treat myself to the spa”

“I collect perfect moments in Google Docs”

“I always keep a bottle of bubbly in the fridge”

“I treat a friend to a coffee and we celebrate together, since shared joy is twice the joy”

“I have prepared a thank you-email that I send to myself every day and to which I add whatever I am thankful for towards myself that day, meaning that every day I send myself today’s version of this growing lists of things I am grateful for”

“I enjoy a high-quality cigar”

“I just hold the thought of what I just accomplished in my mind for a minute or two and enjoy the great feeling I get”

“I take a break, stare up into the ceiling for a few minutes and just rest”

“I tell a colleague who I know would be happy for me about my success and enjoy the encouragement I am given”

How do these suggestions sound? Would any of the above be something for you as well?


Do this

If you too could use some celebration and acknowledgment in your life, then do this:

Reflect on the following: Are you currently involved in a challenge that you could celebrate having finished once it is done? Let it be something you could accomplish in the next few weeks to come, so that you do not have to wait forever for the celebration. It does however need to be something slightly challenging so that you have to exert yourself somehow, and so that it really feels like a victory once it is done.

Now choose how you will celebrate once you have crossed the finish line. It could be one of the ways mentioned above, or something completely different.

If you need to do or buy something in order to celebrate when that time comes, add doing so to your to-do-list, unless you do it right away.


More motivation, and lighter at heart

If you celebrate the small victories and accomplishments in your everyday life often, you will get to enjoy the sweet sensation of progress in a more tangible way. If we are to believe what Amabile and her fellow researchers have concluded, your motivation will increase and it will become easier to get things done since you now face new challenges with greater zest and motivation.


What is your way?

How do you celebrate having accomplished something in your work – be it big or small? Write to me at and tell me, because I always want more ideas of how I myself and others I meet can make our lives easier and more enjoyable. If you have a way that really works for you, share it to inspire both myself and others.


Source: David Stiernholm, author or Super Structured

David StiernholmDavid Stiernholm is a trainer who teaches thousands of people every year in companies, government authorities, organizations and universities how to become more structured and attain a higher degree of personal efficiency.


Super Structured

“Information overload”, “too much going on”, “full email inbox”, “too SUPER STRUCTUREDmuch on your plate”, “heavy workload”, “ASAP”, “piles that keep growing”, it has to get better soon… Yes, there are many ways to describe the chaotic life many of us lead at work. But, if we create a better structure at work, we will have more time for what matters most to us and to our business. Super Structured is based on a highly successful training program and is for anyone who wants to create a workday that runs smoother and with greater ease. In short chapters with useful advice and tips


It is true. The Oxford Dictionary selected “post-truth” as word of the year in 2016.

In Germany the related word “post-faktisch” was selected. These words relate very much to 2016; a year of surprises for many.

The two most prominent of which may well have been the Brexit and the Trump vote.

Surprises, for all their unexpectedness, however, tend to have things in common.

Consider next to Brexit and Trump the following historic surprises:

• the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941

• the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979

• the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990


Post-truth in a historic context

In all the above cases the surprise resulted to a large degree from the fact that analysts could not imagine that the involved actors – from the Japanese war cabinet to the US voters – would do what they did. I believe the reason for this has been that in the minds of the analysts the actors did not act rational. Here’s what history tells about how the analysts reasoned in each of the cases:

It was not in the interest of the Japanese to attack the US: it would only unleash a war they could never win.

The Soviets had nothing to gain from interfering in Afghanistan. Even the British at the summit of their imperial power failed in Afghanistan in 1839-1842. A running gag in analysts circles in the late 1970s was that “the analysts had it right, it were the Soviets that had it wrong [by invading]”.

Saddam Hussein would never be so stupid to attack Kuwait because his possessing of Kuwait rendered the Gulf Coast Saudi oil fields non-defendable. Given the US dependence on that eastern Saudi oil province, the US would fight for Kuwait and hit Saddam hard.

Voting Britain out of the EU would bring inevitable economic misery; it wasn’t in the UK citizens’ rational self-interest.

Voting Trump into the White House was naïve; the progress of economic globalization may be decelerated but not changed.

In hindsight, in the upper three cases the analysts were right (in the latter two the jury is still out). The Japanese, after all, lost the war. Afghanistan accelerated the collapse of the Soviet empire. Saddam in 2003 got the real bill for invading Kuwait. The hindsight wisdom, however, is not the point. The point is that the surprises did happen and did so to the embarrassment of the analysts.

Rational analysis

Rethinking the above, the word post-truth gets an arrogant ring. Actions driven by seemingly irrational emotions or based on facts that never were are as post-truths discredited as untrue. Apparently only analysts own the truth. Others don’t. These others, however, do own the vote – as in the case of Brexit and Trump – or the action, think of the Japanese warlords, Brezhnev and Saddam.

Why does this matter to us in business? I guess because we have been selected as analysts because we excelled in rationalism. Old-school rationalism is imperative in most of our work. Rationalism, however, does not automatically protect us from post-truth surprises.

Questions are better than answers

Reflecting on the recent surprises I decided to ask myself as analyst in a consumer goods company a few humble questions:

  •             When did I last visit a real-life consumer or customer and truly listened?
  •             When did I last talk to a real-life competitor – instead of talk about them?
  •             When did I last embrace rather than reject news that did not confirm my existing views?
  •             When did I last consider that humans decide mainly based on emotions?
  •             When did I last leave my comfort zone by actively looking for interactions with non-peers?

As analysts, part of our task is to be the corporate early warning system. We are paid to identify opportunities for our business early on and to discover trends that when unnoticed may develop into nasty surprises. In democracies such as the UK and the US, elections typically take place once in four years. In our FMCG-business, they happen daily at the (on-line) shelf. I believe we can only make our business serve our daily voters well when we realize their actions are not some post-truth irrationality but are driven by their very truths. We’d better actively search for these real truths and properly acknowledge the related emotions driving them if we don’t want to continue to be surprised in the years ahead.


********** The Morale **********


In case of doubt, keep asking open questions




This short story is part of a collection from Erik Elgersma, author of The Strategic Analysis Cycle Handbook and Toolbook.

To hear more from Erik, listen to this week’s podcast – Episode #38: How to make the most out of your data.









The human element, rather than technology, is still the critical factor in the procurement process, according to 1st Executive.

The human factor is increasingly overlooked in the procurement process in favour of automation, says the specialist procurement and supply chain consultancy. 1st Executive has urged firms to review their existing e-systems to ensure they are maximising the potential of their suppliers’ specialist knowledge. Failing to do so could mean procurement misses out on opportunities to add value, the firm warns.

Hand picked

“The vast majority of procurement professionals don’t just want to be seen as hard-edged negotiators who want to strike the best deal on price alone. They want be recognised as relationship driven and keen to create more visibility within the business and develop inter-dependent relationships with their supply base,” explained James Tucker, co-managing director of 1st Executive.

“However, it’s become obvious to us that the systems and tools that many firms have in place are actually working against them. Many e-procurement systems for hiring, for example, don’t take into account that some firms are sector specialists and therefore have a deep understanding of the procurement market, much greater than that of a ‘generalist’ recruiter. It’s concerning that firms are relying on these systems that clearly don’t calculate the full value that suppliers can provide.”

Building relationship

In the modern tech-led world, procurement can often hide behind a process or piece of technology and forget that business is essentially about relationships with people. If procurement wants to be recognised as a strategic function by stakeholders then it also needs to look at the value it adds and communicate that effectively.

“We do come across many procurement functions which are doing things the right way and winning the hearts and minds of key stakeholders as well as recognising the value that their supply base can offer, but it’s by no means endemic,” continued Mr Tucker.

“To sidestep this issue, functions should solely focus on 100% value creation. And, if we want to get to that stage, we need to understand how procurement creates value for the business. Once that proposition is clear, it’s then about focusing purely on activities that support value creation and removing those that don’t through automation. However, let’s not fall into the trap that many functions have done and forget the importance of the human element. After all, there is only so much that can be automated. Ultimately, if you don’t get the right talent in then the vision of 100% value creation is unlikely to ever become a reality.”

SOURCE: ResponseSource

One in five of the people we work with are likely to be affected by a mental health condition this year.

Nearly half of us will suffer from some form of mental illness during our lifetime.

We spend almost a third of our lives at work and almost a half of our waking hours with our colleagues. That puts us in a prime position to notice changes in them with respect to their behavior, their emotions, their work performance and even their physical appearance. Sustained change in any of these over a period of two or more weeks can be an indicator that someone is developing a mental health problem.

Mental illness, like physical illness, sits on a continuum. Death and disability at one end and full engagement in relationships, productivity at work and a meaningful passionate life at the other.

Early detection and treatment of cancer, for example, greatly enhances our chances for recovery, and the same is true of mental illness. When a colleague sprains their ankle we ask after their wellbeing and we offer help, but what do we do if someone is suffering from a mental health condition?

Mental illness challenges us in many ways. As humans we like certainty and proof, yet mental illness is intangible – it challenges our desire for safety and solidity in a profound way. This can cause discomfort both for those experiencing it, and for those trying to provide support.

Out of uncertainty and discomfort, however comes a drive for knowledge and awareness, which brings with it not only a hint of stability, but also an opportunity to grow. The more we learn about mental illness the more skills we acquire to help us assist others and ourselves to fully engage in life in a meaningful way. The ability to help begins with awareness.

What can we do to build awareness?


  • Set up a formal or informal buddy system. Pair up with a workmate and do a weekly wellness check.
  • Place a calendar on your desk and buy some small round coloured stickers
  • Develop an emotion colour code: Red for feeling bad, orange for not great, yellow for ok, green for good. Get creative and go purple for anger!
  • Every day, according to how you feel place a coloured sticker over that date. This enables you to track sustained changes in mood.
  • Check in with your buddy on a weekly basis over coffee or lunch or a walk. Use your mood chart as a discussion point. A lot of orange or red over several weeks could mean something’s going on.
  • This simple system creates an opportunity to lead into a conversation about wellbeing. It normalizes it and provides an opening into what can be a difficult conversation to have if you are concerned about your colleague’s mental health.

The ability to identify changes in our colleagues behaviour or state of wellbeing and knowing how to have a conversation with them about that empowers us all to make a huge difference to someone’s life- and possibly even save it.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of depression or anxiety can be difficult to interpret in the context of a real person. Many people will experience some signs of both depression and anxiety and in the early stages the symptoms may be more subtle than those detailed below.

Here are two examples that highlight some possible signs and symptoms:

1. Depression feels like heaviness and darkness even in bright sunlight. It feels like I am drowning when faced with even the most basic of decisions. I’m irritable. Apathy pervades everything. I can’t feel pleasure or joy anymore. I don’t care how I look. I feel lonely, isolated and disconnected.

2. Anxiety feels like fear. It feels like my heart is racing as fast as my thoughts are. I can’t get them to stop. It feels like incessant worry over things that aren’t that important. It makes me feel out of control, sometimes even dizzy. I find myself avoiding certain situations and people. My muscles ache and my stomach is upset. Headaches come and go. I keep getting sick but the doctor can’t find anything wrong. I can’t sleep, even though I’m exhausted.


Think about someone you know and try and answer the following questions to help you identify the difference between having a bad time and a developing mental illness:

  • What is normal for this person? Has something changed?
  • How long have you noticed these symptoms for?
  • Is this person angry, argumentative or irritable?
  • Do they appear unusually sad?
  • Has their physical appearance changed? Their weight? Their level of grooming?
  • Has this person stopped responding to messages and emails?
  • Has their work performance dropped off?
  • Are they always tired or full of apathy?
  • Does this person talk about difficulties in relationships at home or with friends?
  • Does this person seem distracted or unable to concentrate?
  • Is this person often sick?

If you answered yes to several of these questions, what do you do?


Telling another person, particularly a colleague, about your true feelings invokes vulnerability. Listening non-judgmentally with full attention creates a sense of safety. Active listening involves eye contact, and paraphrasing back to the other person to demonstrate you’ve have heard correctly by saying things such as “So what I’m hearing is that you’ve been having a really hard time lately, is that right?

Remember no one can be wrong about their feelings. Ensure the person you are talking with does not feel judged. Simply listen with full attention and allow the other person to tell you their story. Try and avoid giving in to the need to “fix” or “do” something. People feel better simply by being heard.


Don’t tell someone what to do, rather try to work together and offer your support. Say things like:

“It sounds like you could really do with some support at the moment,” or “Can you tell me what you think might help?”

Offer hope and normalize the persons feelings by saying things like ‘Many people have similar feelings to yours at some point in their life, but most people get better quite quickly especially with the right support.”

Offer practical help, like driving someone to appointments, or cooking dinner for them. Most people who are depressed or anxious feel overwhelmed so removing some simple tasks can ease the burden.

If someone doesn’t want support don’t force it upon them, but do ask what it is that’s stopping them from seeking help. This will assist you in understanding and addressing those barriers. For example, if it’s the cost, let your colleague know that there are many free evidence based online resources. In addition, many workplaces have an Employee Assistance Program.

If someone really doesn’t want help, just let them know that you’re there and you care. Keep gently checking in on them. The process of acknowledging you may be suffering from a mental health condition and then being ready to seek help can be a frustratingly slow one. There are many reasons for this, including the illness itself, which by its nature distorts thinking patterns, the stigma associated with mental illness, and a lack of understanding or awareness of our own emotions.

Look on it as gently chipping away at the barriers the person is facing.

Be prepared

Preparation is key to any conversation you may have.

  • Think of an appropriate place and time that is comfortable for you both and where you won’t be disturbed. Switch your mobile phone off!
  • Be clear about what it is that you have noticed that concerns you.
  • Think about how you word the question. If you ask ‘are you ok?’ 90% of people will respond with “I’m fine”. So try asking an open question such as…“I’ve noticed you seem a bit distracted lately and not your usual self. How are you travelling?” And follow up with “Would you like to grab a coffee or go for a walk one lunch time?”
  • Show genuine caring using your tone of voice and body language.
  • You are trying to create a safe space for the other person to tell you their story. Think about what would help you to feel safe and secure.
Seek Help

Know the different resources that are available. Check out the Mind website ( or even call the help line yourself (0300 123 3393), explaining that there is someone you are concerned about and asking how you may best help them.

Remember that in the process of trying to help your colleague you are building your own awareness and knowledge. You are adding to your own mental health tool kit that might just shift you towards the fully engaged, productive and meaningful end of the health continuum. Your life becomes better through helping someone else.



Tara LalAuthor: Tara Lal is a firefighter, Mental Health First Aid trainer, international speaker on Mental Health and suicide post-vention and prevention, and the author of Standing on My Brother’s Shoulders.