Debbie Mitchell, Kogan Page, £29.99 paperback

50 Top Tools for Employee Wellbeing

Stress is a primary cause of sickness absence in the UK, with 12.5 million working days lost to it and the associated conditions of depression and anxiety in 2016-17, according to the Health and Safety Executive. Yet many managers view it as a vague, uncertain and difficult area – or worse, dismiss it entirely.





We all know what stress feels like, so perhaps the problem is that we struggle to identify specific preventive actions, in the way that we would so readily do for safety issues such as fire, machinery or work at height hazards.

One response is to promote wellbeing rather than prevent stress, and that is where Debbie Mitchell’s latest book comes in. As the title suggests, she offers a 50-part toolkit for any manager wishing to maximise employee welfare and benefit from a healthy, productive and engaged workforce.

The 50 tips are organised under the headings leadership and advocacy, career, physical and mental, social and community, and financial. These are sandwiched between a scene-setting introduction and a chapter of supporting information. As well as the obvious “where to find out more” listings, this final section offers a general estimate of costs for the ideas in the previous chapters; there is also a useful table setting out which measures work best with which others.

Mitchell is strong on the practical techniques of getting the best out of employees – she has also written a parallel volume, 50 Top Tools for Employee Engagement. She assembles an excellent mix of official advice, personal experience, published research, anecdotes and commonsense psychology. Each tool is presented in a standard format that sets out its link to wellbeing, how best to implement it, outcomes to aim for, and how to measure results.

On the downside, I did feel short-changed by the toolkit idea. To me, “tool” implies a specific implement that, used correctly, will achieve a definite result; but here, many of the chapter headings are “relevant topics” rather than tools as such. What’s more, the book is billed as a “complete toolkit”; although you certainly get breadth, there’s not much depth. Logically, in a book of some 250 pages covering 50-plus topics, you cannot expect more than five pages on average on any single one – and some of them merit a great deal more detail than this approach makes possible.

That said, for the manager looking for a broad swathe of ideas on how to tackle stress, the book is undoubtedly a valuable starting point. And, at £29.99 for the paperback, it is a tiny investment that could reap big benefits.

There is a special offer for IOSH Magazine readers: quote the discount code PHREW20 to get 20% off orders placed at

Kogan Page,


Paul Smith’s career spans enforcement, consultancy and the power industry. A former Health and Safety Executive inspector, he’s now a specialist writer on safety and health topics.

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