• What is a ‘well’ workplace?

    Written by Zara Rush and Becca Pelly-Fry | Co-Founders of IMPRINT


    If you google the definition of wellness you get:

    “Wellness is the act of practising healthy habits on a daily basis to attain better physical and mental health outcomes, so that instead of just surviving, you’re thriving.”

    This definition places emphasis on the individual but what if we could support each other in wellness and thriving? How could workplaces build healthy habits to better support their people to feel well and bring their vital, unique energy to fuel a thriving work ecology. 

    To update the famous 17th century John Donne poem, “No human is an island, entire of itself; every human is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” Despite the currently pervasive Western cult of individualism, the scientific reality is that we are not bounded, separated entities; we are porous. Molecules and microbial beings pass in and out of our systems all the time, through the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat; everything breathes everything else. We exist in a living ecosystem, where all life depends on all other life to survive and to thrive. Human beings exist in community, in relation to our surroundings, our society, our colleagues, our inner and outer worlds. When we take this interconnected mindset, we become more aware of the impact of our actions on others, and their actions on us. 

     Diagram: S. Lehmann, 2010

    The holistic view of wellness encourages an awareness of this interdependence, citing eight dimensions, or pillars, of health and well-being: physical, occupational, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, financial, and environmental. As this diagram below suggests, all the pillars overlap like the petals of a flower, influencing each other and the sense of the whole:

    The challenge is that we are currently living in a set of intersecting systems that are in crisis (economic, ecological, societal and philosophical); constant exposure to these stressors forces our nervous system to dysregulate, making one feel overwhelmed, anxious and stressed. Ever more people are recognising the fight, flight or freeze response in themselves and others; we are almost having to work against all odds to retain balance and to thrive. The outcome, as Matt Haig puts it, is that we are living on a ‘Nervous Planet.’ We know from psychologists and scientists that frequent exposure to stress has adverse effects on our mental health and causes an overproduction of adrenaline and cortisol which in turn can hinder important bodily functions; lack of focus, disturbed sleep, frequent headaches, weakened immunity, memory loss – to name a few.

    In the ancient Indian modality of the Vedas there is the principle of Sattva, the quality of goodness, positivity, truth, serenity and balance. In nervous system language we call this the ‘green zone’, and in this zone a person can communicate well in their truth, be present, feel resourced, connected to others, engaged, curious, at ease, grounded, safe and able to cope with complexity; in other words…. THRIVING. In this zone all the petals of the diagram above work smoothly together as a whole, and the wonderful thing is that we can actually co-regulate each other to be in the green thriving space by tending to and befriending aspects of wellbeing which are being diminished or often get neglected. 

    It’s important to remember that everyone responds to situations and challenges differently; not all brains or all bodies are the same. While one person might have a set of responses that follow a typical pattern (such as the Kubler-Ross Curve that Richard Watts talks about in his blog here), others might have a different set of responses. Being aware of our differences and being compassionate towards each other’s needs helps build trust and a sense of togetherness; co-regulating to survive and thrive. 

    So how can we build healthy, supportive practices into our workplaces that make it easy for the Sattvic, green, thrive zone to exist?

    Today for the purposes of this blog we are offering a top 10 of tips and tools to support building a well work ecology, but the call goes much deeper than this. At IMPRINT we are dedicated to supporting organisations to integrate holistic wellbeing into workplace culture. We believe it is people that make organisations and that collective care goes a long way to creating happy, sustainable and ‘well’ workplaces for the people that work in them. The key is practice, practice, practice, so it becomes integral.

    10 tips for a well workplace:

    1. Start each meeting with sharing something from your life beyond work, opening a space for everyone to be truly human, e.g.:
      • Talk about your name, the meaning of it, how you feel about it 
      • What was the best/worst thing that happened in your life last week?
    2. Take your meetings on a walk (no phones, no pens, no notebooks)
    3. Create space for just BEING (without the DOING): 
    4. Bring plants into the office – share your space with non-human beings; they will rely on you to care for them, and in return they will take care of the air quality and the environment for you.
    5. How are you creative in your working day? What space can be made for creative (non – ‘productive’) meandering? Away from your desk? 
    6. Have a dedicated quiet space with soft furnishings, blankets, warm low lighting, tissues, a set of headphones. Anything that supports comfort and calm. 
    7. Offer incentives for mindful and physical practice (ie link up with gym / fitness offers, regular wellbeing workshops, a company Headspace subscription)
    8. Put up visual or written prompts around the workspaces that encourage mindful, heautiful practice 
    9. Create a shared community board – to share titles of podcasts, articles, books and more 
    10. Leaders within the organisation can find ways to creatively involve all staff in early stage plans, proposals and organisational direction, creating a listening and responsive environment. This toolkit provides guidance and a framework.

    As a team, come up with your own list of ideas to make your workplace a well place to be.

    And here is a free well-being resource from us to you:

    Click here for five freely available hour-long well-being sessions, curated and produced by IMPRINT for people make it work and Freelance : Futures.

    The sessions include sound healing, meditation, yoga and astrology. 


    Zara and Becca are working in partnership with people make it work to develop bespoke holistic programmes for the cultural sector. Get in touch with us if you’d like to know more: https://www.peoplemakeitwork.com/holistic-programmes/

  • Feeling Empowered During Turbulent Times

    Written by Vicki Igbokwe | Director of Empowerment

    What a time to be alive! The last few years globally have seen us collectively experience some of the most earth-shattering moments that I for one could have only imagined would form the foundation of a Hollywood movie script. The knock-on effect of this today is still being felt globally and of course closer to home for each of us.

    As you continue to experience this rollercoaster ride of turbulence, your confidence and ability to make decisions and lead can feel compromised. You begin to doubt every single thought, idea, and choice that you make, because your foundation (quite rightly) feels rocky and unstable.

    When you reach this stage, it is important to hit pause, so you can take a moment to be still and silent. In doing this you create much needed space, time, and distance for you to breathe, ground yourself, explore what it is you need and take the steps necessary to get these things for you.

    Feeling (and being) empowered is a spiritual daily act of kindness to you…Yes, YOU. It is about giving yourself permission to care for yourself daily BEFORE you show up for those around you. I know this can sometimes feel like a luxury, even more so during turbulent times. Please, with love, hear me when I say to you… it is not. In fact, it is a necessity. It is a must for you to nourish your mind, body, and spirit as you experience this temporary turbulence.

    It is important that you understand this too, this turbulent time you are currently experiencing will not last forever, it is temporary, just like the other turbulent times you have more than likely faced in the past. And if you take 10 mins to reflect on that right now, you will be reminded that you were able to come out of those previous times to see another day, stronger, wiser, and better equipped to continue living your life.

    If you need some support with checking in with yourself, invest time in actioning the following.

    Focus on YOU… take the time to explore and identify what it is you need DAILY to ensure you feel as good as you can. This could look like, a morning walk, exercise, journaling, cooking a meal from scratch, listening to music or a podcast.

    What is your daily gift to you?

    Gather your support team… know the people in your life that make you smile, that you can turn to when things get a little rough, that you can be your true authentic self with, that you can receive encouraging words and support with helping you make decisions that your are faced with.  This could be your partner, best friend, a family member, colleague, coach, or therapist.

    Who are those amazing people in your life that bring joy, peace, love, and clarity to you?

    Continue to trust your gut… practice listening to you again. Practice trusting yourself, your thoughts, your ideas, and the choices you make. Know that you have the best interest of those around you (and you) at heart. Your amazing ability to listen to you has got you to this point in your life and it will continue to do so.

    What does it look, feel, taste, sound, and smell like when you trust you again?

    Whatever happens you are covered… in this thing called life you will either win or learn. So, knowing that whatever choices you make you are covered is key. Even if you make a choice that doesn’t go the way you expected 100% you will learn so much from that experience it informs and positively influences your next move. This is where you restore and rebuild your empowerment muscles.

    How do you ensure you are empowered to be the best YOU; you can be? What is it you need?

    Ultimately feeling empowered during turbulent times is about coming back to you and asking yourself what and who do I need to be the best ME?

    When you have figured this out:

    • prioritise you and your needs daily
    • practice gifting yourself daily
    • and give yourself permission to receive all you need daily too.

    When you feel good, you do good for you and those around you. You are empowered to continue, even through the most turbulent of times.

    How has this resonated with you? It would be great to read your comments below and do share any of your own tips too.

    Remember if you feel like you need support with any of this people make it work are here to help… Contact us to book a complimentary 1:1 call to explore what it is you need and how we can become part of your support team to ensure you get there.

     By Vicki Igbokwe | Director of Empowerment at people make it work

  • Our principles to shape positive engagement with change and transformation

    Hi, it’s Richard from people make it work. 

    In this video blog I am sharing people make it work’s change principles – ideas we have learned are essential to create organisational change that feels owned, driven and easeful.

    The principles that I am sharing and talking about in the video include;

    • Successful, owned and motivated change is a SOCIAL process (explore, imagine, decide, act) not a PROJECT process (define, implement and enforce)
    • People don’t resist change, they resist being changed
    • People are amazing
    • Change is done BY people, not TO people
    • Change happens in a context – it’s more like a GARDEN and less like a FACTORY.
    • Love resisters, they make you strong, cause you to expand your reach and give your ideas definition
    • Change Management is about creating a context in which change is INEVITABLE. Releasing the forces for change rather than driving them

    Hear me expanding on these ideas and their importance for collaborative, effective organisational change and transformation in the video below.

    At people make it work our mission is your mission. We are committed to everyone’s culture being made for and by everyone. That means that we are also committed to supporting cultural organisations, leaders and groups in communities, regardless of the ability to pay.  Across our website, you’ll find a range of free resources as well as ways to arrange free individual surgeries if that would be useful. We’ve also got a load of programmes and associate colleagues who can support you professionally, if if that’s what you need. 

    Sending you strength and positivity!

  • Responding to negative changes

    Hi, it’s Richard from people make it work. 

    We support cultural organisations through lots of challenging situations, and witness teams and individuals managing through complex external and internal events… In this blog I’m sharing some strategies that we can all use to support colleagues, communities and family members through the experience of navigating change that is feeling negative.

    In the video link below I am sharing some models and ideas that you might want to explore;

    The Kubler-Ross curve and how this might help us understand our own reactions and those of others, as well as suggesting some helpful responses we might consider

    The Transitions curve and the implications of this insight for the process we might be going through

    The thresholds model and the steps we might take to build appetite for change

    At people make it work our mission is your mission. We are committed to everyone’s culture being made for and by everyone. That means that we are also committed to supporting cultural organisations, leaders and groups in communities, regardless of the ability to pay.  Across our website, you’ll find a range of free resources as well as ways to arrange free individual surgeries if that would be useful. We’ve also got a load of programmes and associate colleagues who can support you professionally, if if that’s what you need. 

    Sending you strength and positivity!

  • Strategies to help navigate challenging and uncertain times

    Hi, it’s Richard from people make it work. 

    With this being a particularly difficult time for us all in the cultural sector and beyond, I have created this latest video and blog entry to share some of my thoughts, learnings and experiences, which may be useful to you, your teams, organisations and the wider sector in general during these turbulent and uncertain times.  While I don’t imagine all of these will be universal and may not take in to account your individual circumstances, they nonetheless may provide some insight and tips, which you may want to embrace and consider as you begin to navigate through the changes and challenges you might be facing.

    At people make it work, we are a broad group of 65 cultural workers, who work together to support the cultural sector to change, develop and transform. The following strategies and characteristics therefore, Control, Options, Support, Well-being, Debate and Me-Shaped Change, are ones that we have identified as key to our working practice, and which have proven useful and applicable on an individual level in other areas of our lives and may be useful for you too:

    • Control:  For lots of us, creating a sense of control, even in situations which are beyond our individual action is really helpful. That doesn’t mean that we are going to seek to control the wider economy, organisational decisions, or amount of money that is coming in to our own households, but what we might do is think about what we might be able to control on one hand, and on the other what can’t we control and need to therefore adopt an attitude of flow and acceptance. For those elements we can control however, we might want to develop some personal strategies.  For instance, I might be able to think about ways of reducing my outgoings, increasing my personal resilience, getting fitter, getting better sleep.  I might be able to offer solutions or ideas in to a situation rather than wait for them to be delivered in my direction. In that way, I am creating a level of control that is healthy while navigating the change that is happening around me.  So, one of the things you may wish to do independently or with your colleagues, is have a think about the places where you can take some actions and create control, and the places where you may need to accept the lack of control. In those places where you can create control, map out what actions you can take.
    • Options:  For many of us, when we were placed in a situation where difficult things are happening, it can feel like our only job is to sit and let it all happen, but actually it can be really helpful for us to think about what are our options are and how we can affect the situation.  Many of those options might be really unpleasant and really difficult, but exploring and choosing them can still be a really useful act, even choosing amongst negative options. So for instance, if my income is reducing, which of the places am I going to decide to reduce my outgoings? It doesn’t mean that these are happy decisions, but by exploring options, setting those options out, and then making choices within those, it is a way of helping us to create a little bit of control, and that can be settling.  Some of us will need support to explore those options and for others it might be an easy action. Either way, having a think about what your options are is a good practice to have a go at. 
    • Support: Support is the third area that is really important at times when we are working within an unsettled environment.  During challenging times, it is important to identify what support we have around us: Who our support network is?  Who are those that we can call upon? What resource do we have around us? Who else can support us and is interested in our wellbeing?   It might also be helpful to think about what kinds of situations and thinking can be helpful to increase our awareness of the level of support around us, and to have started to signpost where we might want to go for what kinds of support.  So for instance, when do I have a conversation with my manager? When do I reach out to my professional network? When might I speak to my spouse or siblings? When might I think about having a conversation with my parents? My children? When might I think about reaching out to faith groups or other community groups that I’m connected with? For many of us, support networks are very often under-utilised, particularly if we feel under pressure, our reaction can often be to isolate or to hunker down rather than to reach out. So, I really recommend that we think a little bit about that in order to manage our own wellbeing in this context.
    • Wellbeing: Often, when we are feeling under pressure and when circumstances are difficult around us, strategies to support our own physical and emotional wellbeing can get ignored or under-resourced. So in these times,  we might want to increasingly think about eating well; about managing how much we drinking or other using substances that might feel useful at first, but can actually deplete our resourcefulness; about our sleep; exercise and activity; our relationships and how we maintain those in healthy ways to make sure that we are addressing tensions and bringing empathy and compassion to each other.  Thinking about connection to others during this time is also beneficial.  It is important to recognise that that we aren’t alone and that for most people of being part of a community is useful at times of challenge.
    • Debate and discussion support. For most of us, having a conversation about the challenges around us will be really fruitful, and that means creating an opportunity for people to speak, listen and think.  For lots of people, the ability to digest implications, think about those options, be supported through a process of exploration, identify their support network, unpack implications and ideas will be a social process.  It won’t happen in one bite, but it will be a series of conversations and activities over a period of time. So creating opportunities for debate and discussion, about the hardships and context that we’re working in, is useful in itself and doesn’t need to come with answers on a plate.  It can be a space where we acknowledge that each of us will have our own solutions, many of them will be unpalatable, but better than not addressing the challenges at all.  For many of us, supported discussion, structured, semi structured, regular discussion will be useful in terms of moving beyond the situation and enabling us to find answers that suit us and that are tailored to meet our own circumstances.  
    • Me-shaped change: This is about the transition from hearing about something to working out what is my version of that. For instance, how I might move from hearing that we need to work differently with communities in our cultural organisation to what does that mean for how I will work on that, how I will have conversations,  who I will reach out to, and how I will divide my time up and my resources? Me-shaped change is about accommodating, digesting and integrating the external change into something that I’m now able to drive and move forward. It doesn’t necessarily mean that these are all good things, but they are accommodations and ways of absorbing the circumstance that we’re working within.

    In discussing these above strategies, I hopefully have created a language and set of interventions and support for individuals who may consider themselves to be neurodivergent, as well as those who are neurotypical, while also of course, acknowledging that the best way to support individuals is to listen and connect with what they individually need. Some of the things that I have suggested here may not be applicable to you. If that is the case and you would like to chat about more tailored, individual support and advice, please get in touch, as I and the rest of the team would love to help!  

    At people make it work our mission is your mission. We are committed to everyone’s culture being made for and by everyone. That means that we are also committed to supporting cultural organisations, leaders and groups in communities, regardless of the ability to pay.  Across our website, you’ll find a range of free resources as well as ways to arrange free individual surgeries if that would be useful. We’ve also got a load of programmes and associate colleagues who can support you professionally, if if that’s what you need. 

    Sending you strength and positivity!

  • Curiosity is the renewable power-source for Dynamism

    Richard Watts, CEO at people make it work, one of the most established and effective organisations supporting the cultural sector to change and develop, explores why a dynamic culture is at the heart of a dynamic organisation.

    For me, dynamism is about who you’re listening to, what you’re noticing and what impact this data has on how you work. We are at our most dynamic when we’re in an active relationship with our environment – scanning, exploring, curious – seeking out and divining an understanding of the needs, perceptions and challenges of the people and communities that we exist to serve. I suppose we’re at our least dynamic when we’re listening to ourselves, referencing our own past, traditions and ways of making, or listening only to the trusty audiences whose passive acceptance and support for what we’ve been doing has kept us safe in the past.

    We are in a changing world with pressing challenges of systemic racism, widespread social injustice, environmental emergency, inequality, economic disruption, and a global pandemic so the need for disruptive innovation and ongoing digital transformation is very real and present. Dynamism in this context is about being properly equipped to respond – an entrepreneurial instinct, an innovation instinct, an instinct to use our skills, assets, relationships and insight to meet the needs that we feel compelled to address. 

    Dynamism drives new responses, new creative interventions and new experiences. 

    At this moment, when so many of us are exploring our organisational strategies and the world is in such need of culture, what is our dynamic response? It feels like it has to be driven by an understanding of need, an awareness of the strengths and assets we can bring to bear on the problem and the powerful drive of a social justice mission. It means that at people make it work, our focus is changing, our programmes are changing our are changing, our partners are changing and the impacts we are committed to are changing too. 

    So, in this version of dynamism we are asking, how are we letting in the insights and experiences that will trigger innovation? How are we reading our environment? How do we connect with and understand the world through data, technology and relationships? 

    In this version of dynamism we are asking, how does our culture and the skills and behaviours we exercise make innovation insights inevitable (rather than really unlikely)? What is our default mindset, and how do we ensure we dial up curiosity, relentless refinement and the instinct to regenerate? How do we create a culture of confidence with change, refinement and modification?

    In this version of dynamism we are asking, is our mission or our model in the driving seat? How do we ensure that we prioritise our mission and beneficiaries over our own stability, over our relationship with ACE, over our own growth or security? How do we make sure our innovation and dynamism work in the service of our communities not at the cost of them?

    In this version of dynamism we are asking, how are we understanding our value? How do we ensure that we create what is valuable to others, not just what we value? How do we take the social impact we can have as seriously as health and safety? How do we find ways to translate our impact so that organisations outside the sector can understand our value as easily as they do other sectors?

    Our organisations can often be machines for maintaining the status quo, they form habits that repeat, proposing answers, rather than exploring questions. Cultures ossify, and as Peter Drucker noted, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, so a dynamic culture is at the source of a dynamic organisation. Dynamic organisations seek the risk of uncertainty, the reverberation of the unknown, the knowledge that curiosity is the renewable power-source that fuels dynamism.

    At people make it work, dynamism has delivered a shift in our strategy from a focus predominantly on organisations to a focus on the sector as a whole – we now see our role as to support the cultural sector to change and develop. Because we have come to understand that we can’t restrict our focus to those organisations who can afford to pay for our work. To our traditional work of strategic consultancy support for individual cultural organisations and cities, we have added free tools and resources accessible through our website for anyone to use, and we focus more on transformational programmes often delivered in partnership (Change Creation, Culture Reset, Coventry City of Culture Leadership Programme, Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Development Programme, CEP National Leadership Programme). That shift in strategy means collaborative initiatives are at the heart of our future impact (watch this space for an Organisation Development programme with and for cultural workers of colour, which Suzanne Alleyne is devising in partnership with me, The office for Leadership Transition, developed with Sandeep Mahal, and a Transforming Governance programme with Anisa Morridadi and Beatfreeks) These feel to me like manifestations of dynamism – responses to (in this case, systemic) needs, built on data, with a focus on people and culture – being developed collaboratively so that insight and ownership is built in across our sector.

    Asking these questions about who we are listening to, how needs are changing, how we are fuelling our entrepreneurial instincts, what skills and culture we need to be able to read society and generate our essential response – these questions generate insight and suggest shifts in practice, culture, skills and process – changes that will in their own way regenerate your organisation by exposing yourselves to the case for change, and giving you the insights that imply innovations and shift your impact. 

  • Give someone a bloody good listening to…

    Give someone a bloody good listening to…

    We know that being listened to has a transformational impact. We advocate giving people a bloody good listening to – rather than a bloody good talking to – next time you notice that performance is slipping, energy is slumping or attitudes are hardening.

    In my experience of working with organisations across sectors it’s being listened to that makes the biggest difference to culture and engagement. When we truly listen to our colleagues we demonstrate that they are important to us, their views count and that the organisation is built upon their insight.

    If we want to improve our ability to listen then a coaching course can be a good idea, as well as ensuring we find environments where and when it’s easier to focus and really listen.

    I’m certain our clients get more impact from the way we listen than the way we speak (and we can be pretty eloquent when we want to be!) and that’s because listening is about creating time, attention and insight… and we all need more of those.

    Image credit – BBC – Fi Glover – The listening project

  • Change is done BY people, not TO people

    Change is done BY people, not TO people

    When we start thinking about creating change with our clients, the conversation is invariably about how people need to change the way they work, think and behave… and most times the conversation assumes that we’re going to help our new client to change them…

    But when we think about change management, we think about creating an opportunity for everyone to explore, decide and develop how they need to change themselves… rather than hear how someone else thinks they ought to change.

    All the changes we imagine happening in an organisation (save the ones that we personally deliver) are already owned by someone and their understanding, appetite and engagement is what we need in order for them to go about changing.

    So we see change management as a social process, of enabling people to see the changes that they can make… which cumulatively will add up to an organisational change… rather than a project process where people are told what they need to do and forced to do it…

    No one can make us learn a new skill, build a new strength or feel a different way, and while leaders can inspire people to want to change, the change is still the individuals to deliver and realise.

    So we put involvement at the heart of the way we create change with clients, so that change is done by people, not to them.

  • It’s not the trees waving that causes the wind to blow…

    It’s not the trees waving that causes the wind to blow… and it’s really important to know the difference… what has a causal effect on which…

    I often notice that people focus on behaviour when they might spend more time thinking about conditions, culture and support. When staff in a theatre aren’t always that welcoming to patrons, could it really be that they don’t know how to smile? Perhaps it’s more likely that they are frustrated and uncomfortable about some things that are happening in their environment that are more present to them that the ticket buyer in front of them.

    It’s important to know what is a result of our actions and what is a cause of them… and as leaders whether we are a tree that is being blown out of shape, or the wind that is creating the deformity.

  • We don’t resist change, we resist BEING changed

    We don’t resist change, we resist BEING changed.

    I’m pretty sure that being contrary is a very strong human driver… perhaps third in line after survival and procreation is the urge to disagree. We are built to be skeptical, to question and to look for alternative explanations.

    When we are creating change in an organisation it is so easy to accidentally trigger this contrary response within our colleagues, and to characterise that resistance as destructive, obstructive and personally targeted. It’s normally positively motivated, insightful and likely to have some core truths in it that might save our change… and ensure it works.

    We put involvement at the heart of our organisation development work for this reason. People have to own the changes that are needed in their organisation and they normally have the greatest insight about what those changes are – once we remember to ask them and get them involved.

    When I hear clients talk about the fact that people in their organisation don’t like change, I often think about how much novelty, innovation and change those same people are making throughout their lives outside of work… and once we’re looking at them from that perspective, we can start to identify and dismantle the barriers to change that we have created within the workplace.