The Chartered Governance Institute - Isle of Man

Isle of Man

Welcome to the Spring edition of our Wellbeing Updates.

Spring 2023

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Spring Wellbeing


Welcome to the fourth edition of our wellbeing newsletter. Previous editions can be found on the Isle of Man Branch wellbeing page. It is nice to see spring finally on the way with brighter and longer days. For the botanists out there, the above picture was taken last summer, but growth and colour is returning once more.

Living on the Island has it’s unique challenges, and we are certainly now more aware of the impact of mental health on our community. Today we will concentrate on the difficulties of balancing studies with work and for many looking after a young family. We will examine office culture and how small changes can assist those undertaking their studies. When preparing these newsletters we want to include an issues that we might not necessarily think affects our wellbeing. Today we are pleased to introduce our guest writer, Amy Howse of Soundology, who will discuss difficulties many have with speech and how we can recognise and assist such people.

We would like to appeal to any members who would like to join our dedicated wellbeing Committee. This is a friendly and rewarding committee undertaking unvaluable work for members. Anyone interested please contact our President Juan who would be pleased to discuss what is involved.

Office Culture

The Harvard Business review defines culture as: “the tacit social order of an organisation: It shapes attitudes and behaviour in wide-ranging and durable ways. Cultural norms define what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted, or rejected within a group. When properly aligned with personal values, drives, and needs, culture can unleash tremendous amounts of energy toward a shared purpose and foster an organisation’s capacity to thrive.

Culture can also evolve flexibly and autonomously in response to changing opportunities and demands. Whereas strategy is typically determined by the C-suite, culture can fluidly blend the intentions of top leaders with the knowledge and experiences of frontline employees.”

Office culture is unique to each organisation but there are some themes readily identifiable. For this month’s theme we will look at two extreme cultures surrounding education.


A culture where the growth of the individual is viewed as crucial. Education and learning will be encouraged, staff policies will be drawn to permit time of for events. The office might expect and encourage those who learn to provide feedback and even make recommendations for changes.

The idea is that everyone benefits from education and the company can make steady improvements. Staff are encouraged and rewarded to undertake further training. Those passing exams might be rewarded with bonus and promotion programme. Excellence and knowledge is valued and rewarded.

Such a culture leads to collaboration and teamwork as staff are encouraged to pass on knowledge of best practices. New ideas are tested without judgement. Failure is understood and investigated rather than laying blame.

Staff are more satisfied in their work. Productivity is high, illness and presenteeism is low. Staff turnover is low. When people do leave they attend an exit interview. Those promoted to other companies are congratulated. Leavers speak highly of the company which has a good reputation in the community.

Often this will be accompanied by study leave and time off to attend CPD events.

Laissez faire

The view being staff should be self-motivated. CDP is the responsibility of the staff who should attend in their own time. There is no encouragement and CDP is nothing but a distraction from work. Staff have no opportunity to pass on their learning.

The message from management might be supportive with courses paid for but the student, however, is left alone. Study must not get in the way of work. Study leave will be minimal and students will only have the first exam paid for. Any resits to be funded by the student along with further time off for the exams.

There will be added pressure to pass first time, increasing the stress and worry that goes along with study. There is unlikely to be any financial reward for undertaking studies. The studies will not lead to promotion as the view is promotion is decided upon work performance. The study is undertaking the course for their own advancement. The studies will enable them to better understand their work. The effort will be worthwhile but that hill to qualification will seem enormous at times.

it is unlikely your co-workers will be sympathetic to difficulties the student might be experiencing. These who might be tired from studying all night following a day’s work will be expected to perform the same as ever. It was their choice to study after all and they knew what they were getting themselves into.

Then comes the CPD events. There might be a limited budget or places restricted to a given number. Those attending will be expected to make up the time taken. Generally, only lunch time or events outside of work time will be covered. Work comes first. Staff are reluctant to attend, there is no incentive and their free time is more important.

The office view is the company knows best so new ideas will be scorned. There will be no growth. Those attending the course may become frustrated with the lack of change and the stagnation they can see. They will pick up new ideas but no outlet to test them out. The office procedures must be followed without question.

It is important that people recognise this as a culture and not the way all firms operate. Once an employee has progressed through such a culture it is very difficult to think there is another way. Individuals may think, well I did it that way so should others. They become indoctrinated as their career progresses, they set a culture that brooks no questions.

Ultimately there is a higher staff turnover with many unable to progress personally or effect changes in the company. Those who qualify can make no progress, often seeing others promoted because they fit in better. There is a more competitive attitude with staff more interested in their work than that of the team. Management view the cost of replacing staff as a cost of business and are happy to write off those who leave as not up to the job. They have nothing to add and so there is no need for an exit interview.

The importance and fear of speaking By Amy Howse

Perhaps you have a communication difficulty at work. You might try to hide it so that no-one else notices, however this can amplify the anxiety that often accompanies communication challenges, and it can also mean that you aren’t provided with the support you’re entitled to. You don't mention it, so neither does anyone else.

According to Communication Access UK, up to 14 million people in the UK (20% of the population) will experience communication difficulty at some point in their lives. Communication challenges can be present for many reasons, such as autism, stammering, learning disability or conditions such as parkinson's disease, stroke or head & neck cancer. There are also many other examples of when communication can be challenging in our day to day lives.

Take a moment to think back to a time when your communication was affected at work. Perhaps you felt nervous during a presentation and tripped over your words, or your voice was croaky and it was difficult to be understood on the phone; or maybe you were feeling down or anxious and it was hard to clearly express your thoughts, or perhaps there was a time when someone was talking to you but you weren’t able to fully listen. Many of us can resonate with at least one of these scenarios and yet communication support often goes unaddressed in the workplace.

It’s well documented that those with communication difficulties are more vulnerable to workplace bullying and there’s a clear link between challenges with communication and reduced mental health, particularly where there is a lack of support or acknowledgement.

A culture of openness, understanding and inclusion is therefore key in overcoming any barriers to communication.

How to embed a culture of Inclusive communication in the workplace?

  • Start by setting clear expectations for inclusive communication. Make it clear that all employees are expected to communicate in a way that is respectful, inclusive, and sensitive to others.
  • Provide training on how to communicate effectively and inclusively. This can include workshops, webinars, or other resources that teach employees about topics such as active listening and how to support individuals with communication difficulties.
  • Encourage open dialogue and feedback. Create opportunities for employees to share their perspectives and experiences, and be open to feedback about how the company can improve its communication practices.
  • Be aware of communication differences. Remember, everyone has unique communication needs, and it's important to be flexible and accommodating in order to create a workplace where everyone can communicate comfortably.

I have a communication difficulty, what can I do?

  • Remind yourself that there’s nothing to be embarrassed by or ashamed of and that support is available.
  • Let your employer know about the challenges you are having with your communication. Perhaps start by speaking with a friendly colleague or your manager if you feel apprehensive.
  • You have the right to ask your employer for training to improve your communication skills such as active listening/voice care/presentation skills and/or ‘reasonable adjustments’ which addresses ways in which your job can be adapted to support your communication.

How can I support someone with communication difficulty at work?

  • Be patient and understanding. Avoid interrupting or finishing their sentences for them. Individuals with communication difficulties may need extra time to express themselves or to understand what others are saying.
  • Foster an inclusive and supportive environment. Encourage open communication and create a workplace culture that values and respects diversity. Provide opportunities for all to share their perspectives and ideas.
  • Work with the individual to identify solutions. If an individual is experiencing communication difficulties, work with them to identify specific solutions that can help. This may involve working with a Speech & Language Therapist to support changes to the work environment or communication practices.

Remember, embedding a culture of inclusive communication takes time and effort, but it's worth it to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and respected.

Soundology is based on the Isle of Man and provides Speech & Language Therapy, including Consultation around inclusive communication, voice care and communication confidence. Soundology also offers wellbeing tools such as yoga and sound baths for workplace wellbeing.

Connect with Amy Howse, Founder of Soundology on 077889 544675,, or

And to end with words from Anthony J. D’Angelo

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