HAE HEA Conference focuses on wellbeing in the workplace and combating stress

DURING early October, the annual HAE HEA Conference was held in the versatile Holywell Park Conference Centre, at Loughborough University. The show is a one-day event, which revealed a better reflection of how strapped-for-cash organisations are within this current financial era. Also, with that, the disadvantage is trying to ‘shoehorn’ a crowded guest speaker programme into two sessions – as opposed to four. Having listened to guest speakers in previous years and finding their talks practical and inspiring, I wondered if it could be done. The speakers’ talks broadly followed the themes of health and wellbeing in the workplace with specific items on recruitment (especially women) into the hire industry, while maximising opportunities for growth and profitability by using new techniques.

Wellbeing at work

It seemed like a shocking statistic to me but research has shown workers in the hire and construction industries, particularly young men, are several percentage points more likely to commit suicide. This research has established several reasons for this, but putting them aside for a minute, it clearly behoves responsible employers to think about ways in which the statistics could be tackled head on.


Stress comes in all forms and wherever it comes from is a major factor in suicides and mental health in general. Therefore, it seems a good starting point for many companies would be to try and address causes of stress in their own businesses. This might not help those employees

suffering from personal stress (for example – relationship breakdowns), but locally-organised ‘buddy’ systems have been shown to provide levels of help and support which are effective – and companies can often tie into those. Faye Bevington from Staliard Kane Associates added to the mix by telling members a bit more about how dyslexics can be integrated more fully into the workplace and improve their productivity hugely by adopting a simple range of things to help them. These can be as cheap as adopting better lighting and providing tinted screen covers for computers to enable dyslexics to read better. Since dyslexia can affect, on average, up to 10% of workforces, a progressive company can use simple methods to utilise the talents of dyslexic employees, who can very often come up with more creative and efficient solutions when provided with the right incentives.

Fighting stress head on

Dr Jack Lewis is a neuroscientist and event keynote speaker who gave a fast-

paced and quirky lecture entitled: 'The Neuroscience of Decision Making and How Technology is Changing Our Brain'. Unsurprisingly, it turns out the very plasticity of our brains has been affected by the digital world we live in. His solution is to ensure our brain and, by extension, physical health, improves by adopting a few simple strategies.

• Good sleep regime; • A routine of meditation and relaxation in order to prepare our brains for sleep;

• Constant hydration through having glass of water first thing in the morning. This tip helps kick-start our brains to provide the fresh environment for better thinking.

More interesting, and perhaps more sinister in some ways, is that these insights explore the way in which the reward centres of our brain work. We tend to be loss averse, so good negotiators can learn to minimise loss and maximise gain in negotiating a deal. They also know the value of a smiling face, good body language and optimism in negotiations. My guess is good negotiators already instinctively use these strategies, but I wonder at what point the strategies could become dishonest or pressurising? In my view the Brexit negotiations are a fine example of how not to negotiate and perhaps could have benefited from Dr Lewis’ insights…

Networking and manufacturers The networking opportunities at the conference go without saying – there were many conversations going on over the free cups of tea and coffee and delicious cakes provided. A few suppliers who are regular to the hire industry had small stands with some

28 TBH October, 2018

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