The challenges of the modern world have underlined the importance of wellbeing at both the individual an institutional level, and that any strategies or transformations designed to enhance wellbeing should apply ‘from student to Board’.
As we are all going through a transition into the ‘Unknown New’ – not least due to the Covid pandemic - there is a real opportunity to create more compassionate higher education institutions, which can help bring about a multi-levelled transformation for the whole of society.
This project comprises a range of events and outputs, including a blog, a sandpit event for senior leaders, a series of recordings promoting holistic approaches to wellbeing at work, a webinar and a Tweet chat. Each element will serve to broaden understanding, explore and develop practical strategies and assist in their implementation, ultimately to embed wellbeing as a cornerstone of organisational thinking.
The aim of this project is to explore how cultures, structures and policies can enable (or prevent) the expression of full human potential, collaboration, creativity and innovation. The project addresses the need to effect transformation on three levels:
- Strategic – implementing wellbeing as an integral part of organisational strategy
- Management - implementing wellbeing strategies specifically for students
- Operational - implementing mindful leadership and ways of working to promote organisational wellbeing
Wellbeing as a strategic imperative – virtual sandpit event
A virtual sandpit event on 5 May provided an opportunity for governors and senior leaders to discuss how organisational wellbeing should be positioned in overall strategy and explored the key question, ‘Have we managed to create healthier and more compassionate institutions as a result of the pandemic and has that had a positive impact on an inclusive and enabling culture?’
You can find a written overview of the event here.
Podcast: Wellbeing as a strategic imperative - the management response
In order to create a feedback loop of organisational learning Kim Ansell and Barbara Bassa from Advance HE interviewed Vinita Suryanarayanan, COO of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and Paul Britton, Head of EDI and Colleague Wellbeing, for their reflections on the sandpit event and the operational realities.
The conversation also explores the benefits and challenges that might be faced with implementation of such a strategic approach to wellbeing.
We held a Tweetchat on 25 May for students and colleagues delivering teaching and learning and supporting students in Higher Education.
In a lively conversation, we explored the importance of staff wellbeing and organisational wellbeing in providing quality experiences for students in universities and in ensuring student success.
To give a flavour of the chat, senior adviser Barbara Bassa's blog underlines the link between the wellbeing of staff and the quality of the student experience.
Recorded resources: Organisational Wellbeing - Everyday ways of working
The Organisational Wellbeing Everyday Ways of Working series comprises three recordings, considering practical ways in which we can create more wellbeing at work at a personal and organisational level.
The approach that we adopt is based on the sentiment, attributed to Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. We may have a limited impact on external events, however, we have full power to change ourselves, shift our focus and from this transformed position influence those around us. In the recordings we will be exploring changing our organisations by changing ourselves and influencing those in our circles of influence.
The series will be concluded with a reflective webinar, 4 July 11:00 - 13:00 BST, during which participants will have an opportunity to discuss their progress throughout the programme, share good practice and ask more questions about ways of working that enhance wellbeing.
The roots of our personal wellbeing at work: turning the lens from ‘outside there’ to ‘inside here’
This first recording considers the roots of our personal wellbeing at work, and talks about how, through turning the lens from “outside there” to “inside here”, we can become more empowered in relation to our wellbeing.
Using the “Wellbeing - linking the body, the mind and consciousness” model (Barbara Bassa, 2022), we explore how our deeper sense of purpose, identity, values at work, the beliefs that we hold about work and the emotions that we experience when working (fun, creativity, excitement or stress, anxiety and despondency) impact on our wellbeing.
The recording also features a reflective practice called “Developing two attentions” to help you consider your wellbeing when you are working.
Presencing: being creative and innovative at work in a way that supports holistic wellbeing
The second recording talks about how we can increase creativity and innovation at work in a way which takes into consideration wider ecologies: the impact on our holistic wellbeing (physical, mental, emotional and our consciousness), impact on others and on our environment.
The recording introduces the “Theory U” model developed by Professor Otto Scharmer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which uses presencing skills in order for us to enter a state of creativity and flow, whilst respecting the intelligences of our heads, hearts and hands.
There is also an opportunity for you to work on your challenge or innovation project using U Theory in a reflective writing exercise.
Working with others in a way that promotes organisational wellbeing
Our third and final recording explores working with others in a way that promotes organisational wellbeing.
We will offer provocations related to: complex system networks and interdependencies at work, the notion of ripple effect, a map of consciousness, “time to think” concept and the butterfly effect. The provocations will be accompanied with a proposition of a practical application of a new approach to your colleagues and stakeholders to promote wellbeing. We will suggest considering the level of consciousness when having conversations with others, listening with your ears, eyes and hearts and implementing small acts of kindness
Webinar: Implementing mindful ways of working and leading to promote organisational wellbeing
Following on from the Organisational Wellbeing Everyday Ways of Working recorded resources series, we held an interactive reflective session on 4 July.
Participants had the opportunity to discuss their progress through the programme, share good practice and ask more questions about ways of working that enhance wellbeing.
Adams, R., 2020. UK universities switching to online lectures and exams, UK: Guardian.
Bassa, B., 2017. Holistic Organisational Development. Sheffield, European Mentoring and Coaching Council.
Bassa, B., 2022. Wellbeing linking the body, the mind and consciousness, Sheffield, UK
Choden & Regan-Addis, H., 2018. Mindfulness Based Living Course, UK: O-Books.
Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project, 2021. Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project. [Online]
Gilbert, P. & Choden, 2015. Mindful Compassion, UK: Robinson.
Hawkins, D. R., 2014. Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behaviour, UK: Hay House.
Hawkins, D., 2015. Healing and Recovery. London: Hay House.
Hawkins, D., 2020. The Map of Consciousness Explained: A Proven Energy Scale to Actualize Your Ultimate Potential. London: Hay House.
Klein, N., 2001, Time to Think: Listening to Ignite the Human Mind. London: Ward Lock.
Macy, J. & Brown, M., 2020. Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to The Work that Reconnects. Kindle Edition ed., Society Publishers.
McKie, A., 2021. Burned-out university staff fear repercussions if they seek help. [Online]
Mind, 2021. Coronavirus: The Consequences for Mental Health, Mind.
Moody, J. & Loke, G., 2020. Safe(r) for staff? Equality implications for ‘reopening’ HE campuses in the Covid era. [Online] Available at:
Scharmer, O., 2016. Theory U. Leading from the Future as It Emerges. 2nd ed. Oakland, USA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Universities UK, 2021. Stepchange: Mentally Healthy Universities. [Online]
Related programmes, events and consultancy services
Below you will find information on Advance HE programmes, events and consultancy services under the organisational wellbeing theme.
Mental Wellbeing in HE Conference 2022: Reading the Tea Leaves - Preparing for the Future of Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education
Delivered in collaboration with the Mental Wellbeing in HE Expert Group, this one-day conference took place on 17 May in Birmingham to address issues of mental wellbeing across all aspects of higher education.
Transforming Culture: Supporting institutions to develop a strong and healthy culture
Advance HE’s support encourages strategic agility in reframing your purpose and the delivery of core activities for future success. We believe transforming culture and cultural perceptions within organisations provides the true essence of sustainable strategic change.
Board Development Sessions
A board development session, which can be conducted on-site or remotely, can provide much-needed time and space to develop an institution’s vision, nurture relationships between members and encourage new approaches.
The Advance HE Knowledge Hub brings together thousands of higher education resources covering a wide range of topics and themes all into one place. Search by keyword or use the search filters on theme, sub theme and content type to find resources relevant to you.
Advance HE Connect
Advance HE Connect our online network that is open to all those who work in HE providing a space where the sector can share, connect and collaborate in one place with 24,000 HE peers from 100 countries around the globe. The platform features special interest groups, events and collaborative projects.
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