In a quiet corner of the bustling chemical company, I found myself entangled in a story that unfolded the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative power of empathy.

At the helm of the organisation was John Burrows, a man weathered by the storms of life, particularly the devastating loss of his own son to suicide. The CEO, grappling with the weight of grief, had unknowingly become a recipient of the counselling services we provided to their employees.

Seeking Solace in Counselling: The Quiet Rooms of Healing

Months passed in the discreet rooms of our counselling sessions, where John sought solace and understanding. The agonising question of “why” lingered in the air, echoing in the depths of his pain. As time progressed, and with the unwavering support he received, John began to find fragments of strength within him.

Embracing Vulnerability: John’s Message to the World

One day, when the wounds were still raw but healing, John decided to share his experience with the world. In a heartfelt video message, he spoke not only of his personal tragedy but also about the critical importance of truly listening to what people say. He emphasised that sometimes, the unspoken words carry equal weight. In his vulnerability, he advocated for a wellness program that would serve as a lifeline for individuals in their moments of need.

A Vision for Wellness: The Birth of a Comprehensive Programme

The chemical company, under John’s leadership, embraced this vision wholeheartedly. Their wellness programme was more than just a superficial checklist. It delved deep into the intricacies of mental health, incorporating counselling services, stress management training, and even sessions on improving management listening skills. Additionally, they appointed Mental Health First Aiders, individuals equipped to provide immediate support to those in distress.

Cultivating a Resilient Culture: The Success of Genuine Commitment

The success of the programme was evident in the transformed workplace culture. The commitment from the top, exemplified by John’s personal journey, echoed throughout the organisation. Employees felt seen, heard, and supported. The wellness program became a pillar of strength, standing resilient in the face of adversity.

Sustaining Empathy: Moving Beyond Tick Boxes

Yet, John recognised that such initiatives could easily falter if not nurtured with genuine commitment. In a reflective tone, he acknowledged that success depended on more than just ticking boxes on a to-do list. A mere ‘tick box’ exercise, he warned, would not suffice; true sustainability required an ongoing dedication to maintaining a healthy workplace culture.

And so, within the chemical company, the seeds of empathy and understanding blossomed into a garden of resilience. John’s story became a beacon, guiding the organisation towards a future where compassion and genuine commitment paved the way for a workplace that truly cared for its people.


Carole Spiers

Carole is the CEO of a leading UK stress management and wellbeing consultancy. She is a BBC Guest-broadcaster and author of Show Stress Who’s Boss! Carole is an international Motivational Speaker and is regularly called upon by the national press and media for comment. She is Chair of the International Stress Management Association [UK], founder of Stress Awareness Day, Fellow and Past President of the Professional Speaking Association, London. www.carolespiers.co.uk