ADVO Group interviews Vicki Curtis, Nuffield Health


Providing access to more than 10,000 health experts through 31 hospitals, 77 fitness & wellbeing centres and 212 corporate facilities, Nuffield Health is one of the leading not-for-profit healthcare organisations in the UK. In this latest interview, Head of Leadership and Organisation Development, Vicki Curtis, discusses the company’s recent partnership with Mindlab to launch a mindfulness training programme for businesses.

Tell us about your recent partnership with Mindlab in launching your mindfulness training programme for businesses

Nuffield Health, the UK’s leading employee health and wellbeing provider, working with 60% of the FTSE 100, has created a new partnership with mindfulness expert, Mindlab, to deliver mindfulness training in the workplace. This will help businesses optimise employee performance and build emotional resilience.

Nuffield Health and Mindlab will help improve employee wellbeing by offering bespoke workshops, including ‘lunch and learns’ or themed days as well as a complete Foundation course to establish mindfulness practice. Sessions are delivered live, either face-to-face or via webinars to increase accessibility. Courses are also supported digitally by an app.

Nuffield Health also practices what it preaches and offers mindfulness programmes to its staff too.

What exactly is meant by ‘mindfulness’?

Mindfulness can be considered as an integrative, mind-body based approach that helps to increase self-awareness and an understanding of what we do and why? Through practice, people are better able to manage thoughts and feelings and are less likely to get caught up in them. Being in control means they are able to respond rather than react in the usual habituated way.

Mindfulness practices include formal mindfulness meditations, as well as informal integration of mindfulness into everyday activities and within the workplace. Developing mindfulness in an organisation has benefits for both the employer and employee and can include improved efficiency, resilience as well as better communication and relationships.

Do you think more people have started to utilise the technique and why so?

Yes they have. Many businesses have now started adopting mindfulness and there are also some well-known figures who have also used mindfulness to get through traumatic times. Dr Gill Hicks MBE, London 7/7 bombings survivor, is one such person and she explains how mindfulness helped her both physically and mentally survive after the attacks. “I was too focused on other people for a long time until I realised I was running myself ragged and had to take some time for myself. I use mindfulness practice as ‘me’ time.”

More information on Gill’s story can be found here

As well as benefiting employees adopting the technique, it’s argued that mindfulness also benefits employers. It what ways would you say this is achieved?

Research has shown that practising mindfulness changes the brain , helping to improve cognitive performance, emotional regulation and manages stress better. With 15 million working days lost in 2013 due to stress, anxiety and depression and 1 in 4 people experiencing some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year , businesses are being encouraged to sign-up their employees to mindfulness training. In the long term mindfulness could lead to happier and more effective and efficient workforce.

Do you think mindfulness training will eventually become a universally integrated aspect of HR and occupation health practice?

I’m hopeful that organisations will integrate mindfulness into their ways of ‘being’ and ‘doing’ so it would become common place to encounter mindfulness in many situations from HR and OH practice through to business leadership. We have also been piloting a Mindful Leadership Programme with the Kalapa Leadership Academy (who are leaders in mindfulness, research and leadership development) looking at how organisational leaders can incorporate mindfulness and mindfulness practice into their leadership roles. The combination of insights from neuroscience with mindfulness based methods to help bring them into practice can enable leaders to be more present, attentive and more effective communicators.

Coinciding with the partnership between Mindlab and yourselves, Mindlab have created a book called ‘Mindfulness Moments’. What kind of useful tips and information can we expect to find in this book?

To coincide with this new partnership, Mindlab have created a book just for businesses called Mindfulness Moments, featuring practical tips from previous participants of mindfulness sessions on how to integrate mindfulness into everyday life. Designed by students from the London College of Communication as part of their final year project and supported by Nuffield Health, businesses receive the book as part of their mindfulness programme.

The book also features tips from mindfulness advocate and comedian, Ruby Wax, who talks about how she deals with stage fright and Dr Gill Hicks MBE, London 7/7 bombings survivor, who explains how mindfulness helped her both physically and mentally survive after the attacks.

The book is also providing some charitable function, can you tell us some more about this?

Funds raised from the book will go towards Mindlab’s not-for-profit organisation Mindlab Goodworks, which will enable students in higher education and charitable organisations that cannot afford mindfulness training to have free support.

For more information or to sign-up to a workplace mindfulness session please click here

For more information on other employee wellbeing support Nuffield Health provides visit

1Britta K. Hölzel, James Carmody, Mark Vangel, Christina Congleton, Sita M. Yerramsetti, Tim Gard, Sara W. Lazar. Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 2011; 191 (1): 36 DOI: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.08.006
2Sickness Absence in the Labour Market in 2013. Office for National Statistics. Published February 2014.
3Mental Health Foundation. Mental health statistics. Accessed 3 June 2015