Author Bio ▼

Dr Flis has a BA SSc and a PhD in organisational social psychology and is passionate about helping people who lead and work in organisations create better workplace experiences and improving work cultures. Get free resources and tactics on appropriately dealing with negative online and offline workplace behaviours at or contact Dr Flis at[email protected] or  LinkedIn. You can also follow Dr Flis on her blog Twitter or Facebook.
February 13, 2018

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Dr Flis: It’s a new year and time for a fresh start – including for me

SHP writer Dr Felicity Lawrence talks fresh starts to the new year – and discusses the experience of her own academic and business journey.

This article is a little different about my other articles to SHP. It’s more of a personal note and update. Today I’m going to share with you my fresh start in 2018, and why I’ve decided to go down this path.

Firstly, I am changing my company name to Happier Workplaces. This name is a better alignment with me personally, and my purpose – basically, I want to help make the world a better place for us and our kids.


Ok, as some of you will know, especially those who’ve read my short ‘about me’ blurb on my website, my epiphanies came to me later in life (in my late 30s and early 40s) and as my self-knowledge grew. These insights have helped me figure out how (and why) I want to help make the world a better place for everyone.

As some of you already know – I’ve shared some of these insights in my other SHP articles – I was a ‘mature-age’ student when I decided to have a break from my public sector career (I’d fallen into a Australian public-sector role upon leaving the RAN) and complete my PhD.

Of course, at the time, I didn’t really believe that I was saying good-bye to my public-sector career. In fact, I told myself I was taking a long overdue gap year, particularly given the step-kids had grown up and pretty much left the nest.

  • On a purely personal note, I find that X-Gens have rarely given themselves gap years like the millennials, which is a shame. Of course, my key problem was that my family was skint, so I had to get into the workforce fast. However, I personally think I would possibly have grown up faster by working in a not-for-profit area that focused on helping others.

Research degree

Prior to my decision to jump into the PhD, I’d been working on a Masters (Research) since 2010. The reason being, I just had this feeling that I was missing something, and found myself searching for a clearer sense of meaning (or purpose) that was absent at work.

I was also unhappy that, despite changing roles, receiving promotions, and delivering on different projects across a range different agencies, I still observed (or experienced) a broad range of poor inter-communication and behaviours between my colleagues, managers, and staff that often resulted in unsafe conduct.

In this respect, I used the Masters to ‘take a look around’ and start asking some deeper questions. Such as, why was this (e.g. bullying) happening and seemed to be getting worse?

Doubting ability

By 2012, I had the opportunity to ‘articulate’ (basically, swap my Masters over to) a PhD, provided I proved my project proposal offered significant and unique research. However, as I found myself closer to making the decision to progress the articulation process (involving a presentation to the university), I found myself doubting my ability, my intelligence, and my commitment.

After all, unlike the public service, there would be no-where to hide; my research and subsequent thesis would be based on my personal merits alone (with input from my awesome supervisory team).

Just a quick note to anyone contemplating a PhD, it’s a marathon. The critical factor is that you’re passionate enough to last the distance, and quietly stubborn enough to jump through the academic bureaucratic hoops and just finish it.

During this moment of doubt, I was lucky enough to overhear a short conversation between two people at work that forced me to realise I absolutely had to do something to help improve our workplace cultures and assist our leaders and everyone else working in often process-driven, hierarchical organisations.


This epiphany hit me on all levels; intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. You can read my brief story here, so I won’t bore you with the details (Note: the names have been changed to protect the people involved).

In brief, a young, very junior and vulnerable member of staff was so badly mistreated by their supervisors and the system that was designed to protect them, that I decided the pain of doing the PhD was worth the struggle.

I felt I absolutely had to find out why this sort of individualised, and institutionally systemic, unhealthy conduct was happening and why it was perceived as perfectly acceptable behaviour. And, I wanted to become a small element of a global team, focused on creating better work experiences for everyone.

What next?

What this meant was that, after graduating -and my thanks again to my awesome husband who never flinched (or so he says!) from returning home each night for 2.5 years to a frazzled, glassy-eyed wife who’d spend 12+ hours glued to the computer-  I wondered what to do next. How could I complete my mission to help people, leaders, teams, organisations?

So, I decided to start with first helping people to quickly spot, and safely interrupt and control negative behaviours in their workplace, like bullying and cyberbullying. That’s why I decided to create ‘Stop Workplace Cyberbullying’ – this title simply made sense at the time – and I also created the site. This made sense to me at the time. However I’ve moved on, and find myself a better fit with the Happier Workplaces biz name.

Helping you…

I believe this small shift in focus will allow me to assist you better, especially about why human behaviour and social conduct can weirdly change in some work contexts, and how to quickly spot and safely protect yourselves and others from unhealthy, dysfunctional online and offline conduct.

I’ll also balance this with a subject that is close to my heart and formed a large part of my dissertation: How to create and sustain healthier, happier team(s) and whole-of-organisation cultures.

I’m now developing online training material designed to assist individuals and organisational leaders to better diagnose team or organisation culture, and take simple steps to make it healthier while also learning how to quickly spot and safely stop the bad behaviours.

Practical methods

My goal is to provide you with practical methods, strategies and skills (including developing your confidence and help you to tap into your strengths and weakness, and to better read the people around you) and gain Greater Happiness and Success At Work…. irrespective of the type of industry, field or workplace you find yourself.

For those of you who decide to use my online training material – which I will be sharing via my website – I depend on you all to let me know what does and doesn’t work for you or your workplace, and what you really need right now that would best assist you in your work role and position.

All the best,

Dr Flis Lawrence

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
6 years ago

All depends on whether you have ended up working to live or living to work like, you know, having at least some “meaning and purpose” averse, loosing all and any job satisfaction along the way as, the pressure and demands erode any sense of wellbeing or self-esteem as the increasing level of fatigue simply driven by ongoing approval deprivation, no matter how hard or long you work, from management or even peers ends in no more than presenteeism especially for DSE user operators with CVS.