I remember unattractively snorting with derision back in 1992 when I heard the Queen refer to her ‘Annus Horribilis’.

But having got to the end of 2020, if there is an expression that sums it up – full credit to the Queen, even from this die-hard republican. Because that expression is On Point as the youngsters say.

Which is not to say that it has all been bad. Even the 20 years of lockdown * in Melbourne had its positives.

One of those positive features which I learned and relearned during those long Ground Hog days of lockdown, was the importance and power of gratitude.

According to the Great Good Science Centre (yes, that is a real thing), the benefits of gratitude for individuals are:

There are benefits of being a grateful group as well, including:

  • increases prosocial behaviors
  • strengthens relationships
  • may help employees’ effectiveness
  • may increase job satisfaction

Hence in the spirit of gratitude and wrapping up the year that was 2020 on a positive note, here is my list of Things I am grateful for in 2020 in two parts – Professionally posted here today, and Personally which will be posted on the last day of my working year.

The top three things I am grateful for professionally in 2020

  1. The rise, and rise, and rise of workplace wellbeing.

If ever there was a topic that garnished attention this year (other than the C word one), then it was the importance of workplace wellbeing.

For some organisations, dealing with the fallout of a global pandemic was the first time they had given any real attention to the concept of workplace well-being; for others that were already on board the wellness train, COVID meant upping their well-being game.

My professional interest in well-being prior to this year was a little low key, more concerned with the fall out of inappropriate behaviours on the mental and general health of employees and the importance of creating a psychologically safe workplace environment.

Yet as employees struggled through working from home, often for the first time ever, without access to colleagues or usual resources and often whilst having to home school children; how well or otherwise said employees were, rightly became a central focus for organisations.

As someone who is always banging on about the importance of adopting a people first approach (where your employees are at the heart of all you do), I embraced this focus on well-being and quickly went about upskilling myself.

I attended several virtual conferences and heard from the leaders in the field. I joined an online workplace wellness group with access to valuable resources. I dedicated several weeks of Workology Co’s social media content to the subject AND crafted a package. I loved how the more I came to understand about workplace wellness, the clearer the link between wellbeing and overall culture became.

Here are some of my favourite tips:

  • Create a safe environment
  • Model and promote authentic behaviour without fear of repercussions
  • Intervene early by identifying problems in team members
  • Talk to your team
  • Remember it is not your job to play Dr and diagnose people
  • Look after your own well-being.

For more information about each of these tips including links to resources such as a fabulous-if-I-do-say-so-myself-inforgraphic indicating common symptoms of mental health issues, click here.

Two of the guests on my lives concentrated on this topic including Dani Bendall, Yoga teacher who conducted a guided meditation and Paula Cunniffee to run us through living a PERMAH lifestyle.

In two other lives, I shared tips including how to assess your personal wellbeing and ran through an exercise to help you combat stress.

2. Workology Co’s White Paper

Whilst I will forever be a tad bitter about the timing of the release of the White Paper on Friday 13th March , literally hours before we went into lockdown #1, I remain proud of the research that went into the paper, as well as the (very smick) result.

Note, I take only 2% credit for the smickness of the actual paper – and I can only claim that 2% because I was smart enough to engage a brilliant designer in the form of the lovely Darren Burgess from Brand in Glove.

Whilst the release timing sucked big time, the findings of 6 key ingredients required for exceptional workplace culture became the framework for Workology Co’s social content over the course of the year.

I received plenty of fantastic feedback about the paper (some people, who shall remain nameless but whose name rhymes with Molly Bardamone, insist I can turn this into a book in 2021..) and one of the things that made me really happy (and yes, a little smug) during the months since the paper’s release is how relevant the six ingredients remained during the craziness that has been COVID19.

Actually, for some ingredients such as Leadership and Communication, the ingredients have been even more important than ever before in retaining culture.

In case you missed it, the 6 key ingredients of exceptional culture look like this:

The key ingredients became the back bone of Workology Co’s social media content over the year; and in the 6 weeks from 1 November – 18 December, nicknamed The Six Weeks of Xmas, I concentrated on one key ingredient per week.

I published articles, shared some of my favourite articles from other authors, and ran the lives around each topic.

The most popular articles were:-

What type of leader do we need right now and into 2021?

The art of giving and receiving feedback

Communication, Co-creating (exceptional) Culture and Covid

Whilst the most popular live sessions (other than those mentioned at point 3) included:

3. Having work!

Cognizant that sadly many people lost their jobs or their businesses truly struggled during the lockdowns, whilst my dance card was not as full as a normal year, I am grateful to have had clients and work this year.

The projects included several more generalist HR projects such as helping a small Not for Profit recruit for two key roles; and one very cool stakeholder engagement piece where I got to do three of my fav things – asking employees for their opinions via mix of face:face and Focus groups; engaging with key external stakeholders via survey and then analysing the info. Oh, the joy! Xmas come early.

In between these paying projects, I worked really hard this year on uping my social media game (thanks to my unofficial Comms Director, Band of Batch Leader, Fiction Writing Buddy and general all-round Cheerleader Holly Cardamone) including / especially the introduction of weekly lives.

As someone who has been ‘performing’ in one form or another for years (court advocacy; facilitating training workshops etc) (and yes, I am a frustrated actress from way back) and after initially being so nervous I almost threw up, I’ve come to love these weekly opportunities to perform for the camera as well as share valuable tips for my followers. I’ve especially loved the chance to use the journalistic skills when I have special guests on board and get to hammer them with questions.

Here are some of my favourites:

Leigh Cameron, You Who Founder and Chief Evangalist talking about the importance of clarity and alignment in exceptional culture;

Holly Cardamone of Blue 51 Communications talking about the power of communication within organisations; AND last but not least

Rick de Paiva from Avanco Leadership discussing the traits of great leadership and challenges currently facing leaders.

I also pumped out more blogs than in all the previous years of Workology Co combined, and whilst I refuse to pick a favourite as that would be worse than picking a favourite child, here are footy related ones (because, hello, I live in MELBOURNE) that neatly segue back into culture and connection.

Why RFC is a workplace culture nerd’s dream (and nightmare)

And, because I have somehow got this far without mentioned my beloved Blues and need to remedy that, STAT:

I’ve got the Blues. And that’s a good thing.

If you would like to chat further about anything mentioned in this blog, then reach out via alison@workology.com.au.

PSA: you need to get in quick though. The out of office goes on at 5pm on the 23rd  December, and the internet isn’t great from the holiday shack in Tassie…


*Ok, ok, 20 years might be a slight exaggeration. But for a good long while in the middle of Lockdown #2, it felt like Groundhog Day, and every day = a year, like we were living in dog years.