Our Definitions

This is a guide to the common buzzwords and phrases used today when talking about wellbeing, health, coaching and training.

We have found that these terms can represent different things to different people so to avoid any misunderstandings, we wanted to clarify what they mean to us. It’s not an exhaustive list but we hope these definitions are a useful starting point.


An objective assessment of a person’s physical and mental state.


A person’s subjective assessment of their physical and mental state.


Stimuli that are strong enough, individually or cumulatively, to cause a physiological reaction that releases adrenaline and cortisol into a person’s system. Stressors can range from an everyday inconvenience to a major life event.


An individual’s reaction to a stressor which can often be influenced by their experience or memory of similar stressful events. The effects of stress can be experienced physically, psychologically or socially.

Our reaction to stress can be either positive or negative. Positive stress – known as Eustress – can give us an extra burst of energy that helps us accomplish our goals. Negative stress – knows as Distress – is often associated with feelings of being unable to cope.

In general, when people discuss the subject of stress they are referring only to distress.


A loss of energy and interest caused by working too hard under stressful conditions for prolonged periods of time. Sufferers are frequently unable to engage with those around them or function as normal.


A state of uneasiness, apprehension, tension or worry about a future event or events.

Emotional contagion

When an individual’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours manifest in a way that influences the mood of other people. This effect can be both positive – infectious enthusiasm – or negative – where someone’s low mood affects those around them.


When someone’s productivity is reduced because they choose to stay at work rather than go home, for fear of the negative consequences of seeming less dedicated than their colleagues such as being passed over for promotion or selected for redundancy. If the person is ill this can also slow their recovery and affect the health and productivity of their colleagues.

Sustainable Working Practices


The ability to respond or adapt constructively to various degrees of change, challenge and adversity. Resilience can be physical, emotional or cognitive.

Sustainable working

When an individual has the capacity to work productively over the long-term, because their work style does not deplete their emotional and physiological resources.

Work style

The way a person manages their time and resources, interacts with their colleagues, or applies their skills and competencies at work. An individual’s work style influences their operational efficiency and resilience which in turn affects their long-term performance.

Life style

The choices a person makes about their personal life e.g. nutrition, finances, relationships. In many cases, these have a significant impact on workplace performance too.


Inclusive organisations

Organisations that create a physical and cultural work environment which anticipates and caters for the needs of the widest possible number of employees, so that everyone can work to the best of their abilities.

Inclusive coaching

Coaching that is accessible to everyone and addresses all the barriers to workplace performance identified by the client.

Unconscious bias

When someone inadvertently makes biased decisions or judgments that are influenced by lifetime experiences, family and cultural influences. Unconscious bias leads individuals to react positively to those perceived as similar and negatively towards those perceived as too different.

Protective Hesitation

This concept was developed by Professor David A Thomas1 and it is a useful way of showing how relationships and communication can be affected by ‘difference’. We define it as a tendency for people to change how they communicate when they perceive difference in another person, for fear of offending that person or appearing prejudiced.


Under the Equality Act 2010, someone has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities. Employers must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to support disabled job applicants and employees. The Department for Work & Pensions has published guidance for employers2.

1. The truth about mentoring minorities: race matters by David A. Thomas, Harvard Business Review

2. The Department for Work & Pensions: Employing disabled people and people with health conditions

Organisational strategies

Health and Wellbeing strategy

An integrated plan for assessing and improving the health and wellbeing of employees. This usually requires the involvement of different services including occupational health, human resources, coaching and even local providers such as leisure centres. To be truly effective, the strategy should set out ways to engage with as many employees as possible.

Health promotion

A range of services, information and facilities directed at improving employees’ health and consequently their productivity. This could include healthy food options, physical activity, health checks, advice on work/life balance and stress management.

Health management

Services designed to support individuals and teams who work while affected by long-term health or wellbeing concerns helping them to maintain their performance.

Absence management

A strategy for minimising absence and managing people’s successful return to work. This can involve helping an individual readjust to the working environment and develop more sustainable ways of working after a period of absence. There may also be a need to develop managers’ skills to help with the successful re-integration of the individual into their team.