This was such a soothing talk for me… someone gets it!



Why is this news?



This video captures a news story about a business man who runs a debt collection agency whose focus is to help people manage their finances first, and then repay their debt  later – and everyone seems astounded that this makes good business sense!

It has long been the case that treating people well pays dividends not just emotionally, but financially and societally. A long term investment in people creates an ongoing engagement that money alone cannot elicit. It’s time businesses became accountable for their part in maintaining an ethical and healthy society – not just because it’s the right thing to do but because it’s the smart thing to do. So often, destructive petty stereotypes about less wealthy working classes get in the way of good business sense when it is entirely unnecessary: With an open dialogue and an open mind, everyone’s needs can be satisfied with dignity.

Modern unionisation is the subject of much debate, but I don’t think anyone can deny that the core principles of cooperation and good working practice benefit both the employee and the employer. This video lays that out quite succinctly.

When both parties in the relationship come to the table with an open mind and prepared to negotiate, there isn’t actually a lot of difference between a good union and good HR.

Warning: video contains scenes that could be disturbing

This is quite a shocking series of videos produced by the Work Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario, Canada. They are designed to truly jolt people into thinking about their responsibilities to each other in the workplace – employers and employees alike. Although incredibly thought-provoking, the inevitable question arises – is this necessary?

In my opinion, the answer has to be yes. For a decade I worked with people for whom the word ‘institutionalised’ was a gross understatement. Staff were systematically abused in the workplace and yet the majority were convinced that they should accept it. The minority left, or self-medicated. I, like a fool, remained and tried to enlighten people to no avail. As a result, I suffered major instances of trauma because the abuse became an accepted part of the job.

I still cannot comprehend how screaming threats, intimidation and verbal abuse, even in single instances never mind on a daily basis, are not instantly notifiable near misses. I cannot understand how employees could shrug off the fact that a colleague almost got punched or only got ogled/groped ‘a little bit’ as ‘lucky’ and then do nothing about it.

Is it simply a lack of understanding regarding the threat, or an absence of means to either process it or prevent it? It is possible to speculate that it was both. However, it is my experience that once the threat, and its potential consequences, are truly understood and felt, then the means is made available. Without the ability or the inclination to wish first-hand experience of workplace trauma on employees, these videos fulfil a growing need for adherence to a people first, product second culture.

The Power of Quiet


A wonderful exposition of how a good skills balance in the workplace can catalyse creativity and productivity.

As bizarre as this is, it is very engaging. It demonstrates a very basic way of engaging employees in the workplace with their rights AND responsibilities. Large businesses are now on the back foot in delivering meaningful services and getting that extra mile out of their employees – let’s face it, it’s much harder to like a faceless employer. I believe this video demonstrates much of what could be learnt by emulating the small business, familial approach. I only wish the people I worked with had adhered to a least a few of these basic housekeeping rules!

Yesterday I attended two very different writing groups.

The first was designed to elevate mood through the joint sharing of poem and prose, opening the form up to people who may have previously felt intimidated by complex and pretentious language. We read chapters of a novel together and the overall effect was to eventually bond us against a common enemy – the author, who I cannot recommend!  The second group followed a form I found more familiar – an almost academic discussion of  each contributor’s own work and also their favourite poems, work-shopping ideas.

From each one I gained skills that both encourage and engage me in different ways of thinking and other people’s lives. By reading aloud, I am forced to take my time over words and ideas I may have skimmed before and I can improve my oratory skills. By reflecting on new poems with peers, I am challenged and my world opens up to other forms and functions. Sharing other people’s creative processes invokes a collective and graceful vulnerability which improves and informs my perspective.

There is much value to be obtained through these cathartic processes within any workplace. Understanding your colleagues, sharing their point of view and just taking a bit of time to get to perceive them as human, provides an invaluable contribution to harmonious office relationships.  Engaging in creative, constructive diversions can also reap dividends in prevented absence costs due to improved employee mental health and can also improve productivity and quality of work.

Okay, so employee engagement is not a new concept but poetry can often be overlooked as a tool of employment because of its reputation for being deliberately and confoundingly exclusive. However, it is what you make it. Have a look at the Save the Frogs competition, this is very inclusive, and stick the poster on your notice board. There’s nothing to lose and – shock horror – you may just have fun.