Ten Most-Read Articles of 2020

Over the past extraordinary nine months, at Make A Difference News we’ve highlighted some of the most progressive leaders and companies supporting employee wellbeing globally today. We’ve also recognised and offered solutions for some of the wellbeing challenges workplaces are facing.

A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed.

Here are ten of the most-read articles that we’ve published since the pandemic took hold in 2020. Which have you found the most inspiring and useful?

1. How Google is Training its People Managers to Make TeamMember Mental Health a Priority

Perhaps it’s because Google is a universally recognised employer. Or maybe because the training of people managers has become a top pandemic priority. Whatever the reason, this conversation with Yu-lin Gardner, Benefits Programe Manager at Google is our number one most-read article.

Yu-lin shares insights into the progressive ways the global employer is approaching mental health training and support for people managers and explains how that’s shifted through the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. How Natwest Group is Collaborating to Embed Wellbeing as a Strategic Priority and Keeping People Connected

Another employer case study takes our number two slot. It outlines concrete takeaways that any employer can relate to.

Fiona McAslan is Wellbeing Lead overseeing Natwest Group’s wellbeing strategy and global COVID-19 wellbeing response. This includes supporting all of their colleagues and the rolling out of Mental Health champions. Dr Anna Koczwara is Head of Behavioural Science also with Natwest Group.

In this interview by Jo Yarker, Fiona and Anna share how they are supporting colleagues’ wellbeing as the pandemic has unfolded, the role that behavioural science is playing, as well as priorities for 2021 and for the longer-term.

3. How to Be The Change You Want to See in The World

For Minority Mental Health Awareness Month Heather Kelly shared a very honest conversation with Dr Kamel Hothi, OBE. Dr Hothi has been ranked in the top 100 most influential black, Asian and minority ethnics leaders in the UK by the Financial Times and others.

In this exclusive interview, Dr Hothi opened up about how she’s broken one glass ceiling after another as a minority senior global female business executive, as an entrepreneur, philanthropist and social change-maker– and also about the personal hardships she’s endured along the way. A truly inspirational read which went viral on LinkedIn.

4. How Co-op Used Data to Develop an Effective Workplace Wellbeing Programme

The key role data can play to to define and assess the impact of wellbeing interventions is increasingly coming into my conversations. In this interview, Paul Caudwell, Co-op’s Health Wellbeing Manager, ran me through the role that data played in helping Co-op to develop their approach to supporting workplace wellbeing.

With a diverse family of retail businesses under its umbrella, including food retail and wholesale; e-pharmacy; insurance services; legal services and funeral care, the Co-op is the largest consumer co-operative in the UK. It’s people and the services they provide have been right on the frontline throughout the pandemic.

5. COVID-19 Roundtable: Supporting Colleagues Through Death, Bereavement and Grief

Death and bereavement are still an uncomfortable topic. But with many losing loved ones – either directly or indirectly as a result of the COVID-19 virus – it’s more important than ever that employers have the right support for bereaved colleagues in place.

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For this fifth in our series of virtual roundtables, which we ran in association with Business in the Community (BITC), I was joined by a diverse range of leaders from large and small, public and private sector organisations. In our rich and open discussion, all shared the issues they are grappling with when it comes to supporting death, bereavement and grief as well as personal experiences, valuable tips and action plans.

6. Five Self Care Tips for Seasonal Affective Disorder 

It’s estimated that 0.5 to 3% of the world’s population and 10-20% of people who live with depression experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD).

In this article, Heather Kelly outlines five easy ways SAD suffers can get the extra boost they need to get them through the winter months. She also reminds us that practicing extra self-care to build resilience toward external factors which are out of our control is incredibly important. But especially now, as the darker, colder days are likely to impact more of us than in years past.

7. First Online MAD World Summit Puts Mental Health and Wellbeing at the Centre of Employers’ Pandemic Recovery Plans

On October 8, for the first time in its three-year history. MAD World Summit went online. MAD stands for Make A Difference. In a disrupted world, the virtual event brought together 1,500 employers to collaborate and connect around workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing.

Inspirational thought-leader John Amaechi OBE, Lloyds Banking Group’s Thriving at Work champion David Oldfield, Unilever’s Catalyst for Change Leena Nair, former Health Minister Rt Hon Sir Norman Lamb, former England rugby captain Will Carling and management guru Ann Francke OBE were just some of the speakers who shared their insights; bringing to life steps all employers can take to put employee mental health and wellbeing at the heart of the pandemic recovery discussion.

If you missed the Summit or want to watch any of the sessions from our global events check out MADFlix – the video content library for all Make A Difference events. Also check out the digital supplier showcase.

8. Neurodiversity and inclusivity: designing for a neuro diverse office population

As we look to 2021, the possible return to the office and the next wave of change the New Year will bring, it’s essential that employers understand how to support the wellbeing of neurodiverse colleagues.

In this article, Kay Sargent helps readers understand how to recognise and respect neurodivergence and create workplaces that are inclusive for all.

If you’d like to find out more about supporting the wellbeing of neurodiverse colleagues, you can register for the free to attend Make A Difference webinar which we are producing in collaboration with DMA Talent, with the kind sponsorship of Texthelp.

9. Self-harm in the Workplace

As the stigma that has traditionally surrounded talking about mental ill-health starts to ease, it feels like the time is right to tackle some of the more taboo aspects of the topic. Self-harm is one these.

In this article, Andrea Woodside explains what self-harm is, dispels myths, offers practical tips for those who find themselves in a situation where they need to help someone who is self-harming and wraps up with pointers towards useful contacts.

10. Wickes Challenge Retail Sector to Prioritise Parents With New App Partnership

Our top ten wraps up with one our most recently published case studies. Following several initiatives that tap into their “Let’s Care For Each Other” ethos, Wickes has become the first national retailer to provide comprehensive parental support benefits for all 8,300 employees – and their partners. In this article, Sam Rider shares insights from his conversation with Wickes’ Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Claira Singh.

We’ve heard time and again that genuine cultures of care are supported by the most senior leaders in organisations. So, it was great to see Peppy’s posting on LinkedIn of this article was “liked” both by Wickes’ CEO and COO.

If you have any case studies, profile interviews, reports or innovations that you would like us to feature in 2021, you can get in touch at [email protected]

About the author

Claire Farrow is the Global Director of Content and Programming for the Mad World and Make a Difference Summits. She also drives the content for Make A Difference News. Claire is on a mission to help every employer – large, medium and small – get the insight, inspiration and contacts they need to make real impact on workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing in their organisation. She has been freelance for more than 15 years. During that time, she has had the honour of working with many leading publishers, including the New York Times


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