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Workplace presentation

Using the S.C.A.R.F. model as a framework for workplace wellbeing

With the recent Government Wellbeing Budget and media attention, wellbeing has become the latest H&S buzzword, but what does that mean for your business and team?

The World Health Organisation defines mental health as a state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. In the course of working in the space of mental wellbeing at work, we at Hemisphere Health have found the SCARF model a helpful tool to help frame action in the workplace. 

What is SCARF?

SCARF stands for – Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness & Fairness.  This theory is based on the fact that when these aspects are threated, people can feel unsafe, unsure, and ultimately, may become unwell.  However when these aspects are fostered, workers feel safe, sure of themselves and function well!


What does this mean in the workplace?

If the work environment is perceived as safe, the ‘rest and digest’ (or parasympathetic) nervous system is activated.  This leads to workers being more open, engaged, curious, happy, productive, creative & connected! Traits all associated with increased wellbeing. On the other hand, if the work environment is perceived as unsafe, the fight, flight or freeze system (or sympathetic nervous system) is activated, leading to the avoidance response.  Employees may feel stressed, unhappy, disengaged, angry, cynical, uncommunicative, taking sick leave and/or leaving.

How can you apply it?

Let’s focus on Status As an employer or manager, there are some simple things you can do to either foster or threaten the status of your workers  Things that can threaten status at work are:

  • Poor/irregular or no feedback
  • Lack of recognition for effort and commitment or hours worked
  • Undermining credibility

We know that providing professional development opportunities and giving additional responsibility are some major steps to increase status but there are a host of little things you can do too!

  • Give them a shout out at the next meeting
  • Write them a LinkedIn recommendation
  • Offer opportunities for training and development
  • Give feedback on what they are doing well & acknowledge effort
  • Say “Thank You”

If you aren’t already doing all of these things, hopefully you can take one of two of these tips and roll them out in your workplace straight away! Keep an eye out for our next post on SCARF as we work our way through the model