Action for Happiness and Investors in People on the importance of looking after mental health and wellbeing in the workplace

Submitted by Salix on Wed, 02/06/2021 - 14:43

It was a delight to hold a session with Action for Happiness and Investors in People on the importance of looking after mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. 

In this discussion, Vanessa King, Head of Psychology and Workplaces at Action for Happiness, shared why happiness needs to be taken seriously for business and in workplaces. Beyond supporting people when they are struggling, she showed that there is a lot we can do as individuals, team members, managers and leaders to help us all thrive. 

Vanessa is an experienced leadership consultant, trainer, speaker and author and has worked in organisations around the world. She translates psychological research to make it digestible and provide practical takeaways for businesses.

She created the evidence-based framework ‘10 Keys for Happier Living’ which has engaged and inspired individuals internationally within workplaces, school curriculum, healthcare settings and Mental Health First Aid Resources. 

The event has helped us better understand how the science of wellbeing can shape the future of work and the design of products, processes and culture. It provided useful tools which can be utilised to tend to our well-being both in and out of working hours. 

The first step in doing so is to focus and work from within. Vanessa prompted us to question what is going well in our lives rather than what troubles us. To focus on what we have rather than what we believe we should have, instils a sense of gratitude and increases our happiness levels. This practice can significantly lessen the depth of depression felt by individuals.  It only takes a few minutes to complete this task and yet it makes a substantial difference in the long term. 

Champion others

Another way to create happiness is to recognise and champion the successes of others. When given good news we have the option to congratulate it and move on swiftly to the next topic of conversation or we can ask a follow up question on the achievement or moment of happiness that your colleague or friend has disclosed to you. Doing so showcases that you are interested in them and their happier moments and will be there for them, not only when times are difficult, but when they are thriving. It has been shown to actively nurture the quality of relationships.

The gift of attention is incredibly crucial. Being too busy to give focussed attention to someone whether they are sharing what’s good, or have an issue or worry, signals that that person isn’t important or valid.  Taking a moment to recognise their query or concern and, if you really are too busy at that moment, politely stating that you will make sure to address it when you have the capacity, is the better approach. 

After all, life can seem hectic at the best of times. Rather than shy away from the tasks that we face or try and multitask, take it one thing at a time. Giving your attention to each individual task means that you can do it to the best of your ability and research shows you’ll be more productive In the long run. 

In the same vein, when talking with others focus solely on what they are disclosing. Focusing on one thing at a time enables us to feel more present and means that we are less likely to burn out. 

Electronic detox

Vanessa also discussed the importance of managing time spent on messages, email and media. Spending an extended period on our phones or laptops can wear us thin. It is suggested that we set a specific time in which we will read over emails and messages so that it doesn’t feel like a bombardment. 

Self confidence

Another tip from Vanessa was to identify your strengths and use them in small ways to boost your self-confidence.  By taking a moment to recognise and use our competencies and expertise we could see that we have influence. 


It is important, among all of this work, to take moments to recharge and rest. Prioritising rest is not a sign of weakness but of strength. We need time to pause and recharge so as to take on the next task or day with the utmost energy. In a scenario when the time feels of the essence, then find a way to take micro pauses throughout the day – be it to make a cup of tea or water your plants, as this too will help your mind focus when you return to your task. 

Incorporating the above practices is beneficial for individuals at every level of an organisation. Doing so can foster greater communication, connection and fulfilment at work and greater levels of happiness overall. 

Thank you to those at Action for Happiness and Investors in People for making this session possible! 

You can find more on Action for Happiness’s work here

You can find more on Investor’s in People’s work here.