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Case Study

Eversheds Sutherland

Eversheds Sutherland

BDO is a global Professional Services company. Cognacity’s Resilience programme was rolled out to over 500 employees at BDO from 2017 to 2019. A total of 34 workshops were delivered in London and at BDO sites across the UK, with further sessions in the pipeline. 


The aim of these sessions was to enable employees to perform under pressure whilst safeguarding their wellbeing.

Themes: BDO Stressors

Throughout our interaction with BDO, we have continuously modified and adapted the content of our workshops to best-address the needs of BDO and its staff. During each session, BDO attendees were asked to reflect on their own stressors. An overview of key themes is summarised below. This feedback was then incorporated in to the next series of workshops to create bespoke content specific to BDO’s workforce.

Main Stressors of BDO Employees:

  • Work-life balance
  • The pressure to qualify
  • Chasing the next goal/hitting targets
  • The workload that is expected of them
  • A lack of positive reinforcement
  • Competing demands
  • Personal/home issues
  • Demanding colleagues
  • Difficult colleagues
  • Overflowing inboxes

Psychometric Results

The impact of our programme was measured using a variation of psychometric measures. These results analyse each attendee’s psychological features and work-related stress. The Shortened Resilience Scale (SRS) questionnaire was completed by 507 attendees. To assess the effectiveness of our programmes we compared the respective risk-levels of attendees before the workshop and after having completed the 21-day behavioural challenge.

Results by Workshop


We used the General Health Questionnaire (12-item version) to measure the mental health and wellbeing of BDO’s attendees and then compared this data against the general population and the corporate client norm. This measure identifies the presence of a common mental health disorder (CMHD). Examples of CMHDs include anxiety disorders and mood disorders.

General Pyschological Wellbeing


We can clearly demonstrate that our workshops significantly reduced the number of BDO attendees at risk of developing a CMHD. Prior to attending the workshops, 52% of BDO attendees were at a higher risk of developing a CMHD compared to the general population. After attending the workshop, this percentage decreased by 39% to 13%.

Also significant was the fact that the risk of developing a CMHD amongst BDO employees was higher than the corporate client norm (52% compared to 47%). This means that post-workshop, BDO attendees are 34% less likely to develop a CMDH than their industry colleagues/competitors who have not had the benefit of our resilience training. 

39% of BDO employees showed a decreased risk of developing a common mental health disorder following the Cognacity workshop.


To measure an individual’s resilience, we used a six-item measure called the ‘Brief Resilience Scale’. Responses to these questions indicate an individual’s perception of their ability to bounce back from stress. Resilient individuals can recover from stressful experiences quickly and efficiently.


Prior to attending our workshops, 47% of BDO’s attendees displayed a lower resilience compared to both the general population and the corporate client norm (35% and 41% respectively.)

After attending the workshop, this percentage decreased to 35%, demonstrating a 12% improvement in overall resilience and a 6% advantage over their industry colleagues without the benefit of resilience training.

12% of BDO employees displayed an improvement in overall resilience after the Cognacity workshop.

“I found the session brilliant. I have come away with lots of very useful suggestions and action points. As I said on the call, just talking was very helpful, gaining insight into how you dealt with situatios and getting a different point of view was very beneficial, also as I was saying what i was feeling out loud, it didn’t feel as overwhelming as it did in my head. The session was reall beneficial and very timely for me with my changing job role, in addition to the current worldwide situation (COVID-19) which is probably making me more anxious than I would probably be.”   Operations, BDO


Burnout is a psychological state when someone is chronically exhausted and overwhelmed with work, to the extent that they are beginning to disengage. We measured the risk of experiencing burnout with a shortened version of ‘Maslach’s Burnout Inventory’. This inventory measures 3 core components of burnout:

1. Emotional exhaustion
2. Depersonalisation
3. Personal Accomplishment

1. Emotional Exhaustion


Before the workshops, 17% of BDO attendees demonstrated high levels of emotional exhaustion. This fell by nearly a half to 9% afterward the workshops.

Significantly, BDO’s 17% level of emotional exhaustion was higher than the corporate norm level of 13%, but importantly was 4% less after the workshops.

Post-workshop, BDO employees displayed almost 50% improvement in levels of emotional exhaustion.

2. Depersonalisation

Depersonalisation is the ‘unfeeling’ and ‘impersonal’ response toward recipients of an individual’s work or instruction. Higher scores indicate a greater risk of depersonalisation (and hence a greater risk of burnout).


Prior to attending Cognacity’s resilience workshops, 19% of BDO attendees displayed medium to high levels of depersonalisation. After the workshops, only 11% demonstrated medium levels, with none
displaying high levels. This is a significant improvement.

In other areas where BDO’s results have been significantly worse than the corporate client norm, in relation to depersonalisation BDO’s results were very similar to those of the corporate client norm (19% vs 20% respectively). This means that after the benefit of the workshops BDO’s risk is almost halved to that of industry norm.

After the Cognacity workshops, BDO’s risk of depersonalisation is almost halved to that of the industry norm.

3. Personal Accomplishment

Personal accomplishment refers to feelings of competence and successful achievement in one’s work. Low scores indicate a lesser feeling of personal accomplishment (and hence a greater risk of burnout).


Prior to attending Cognacity’s resilience workshops, 60% of BDO attendees displayed high levels of personal accomplishment. After the workshops, this increased by 18% to 78%. In addition, the percentage of those attendees experiencing low levels of accomplishment/greater risk of burnout halved.

BDO’s 60% rate of high personal accomplishment compared to 58% within the corporate client norm group. Post-workshop BDO’s employees enjoy a 20% improved sense of personal accomplishment compared to their industry colleagues.

Post-workshop, BDO’s employees enjoy a 20% improved sense of personal accomplishment compared to the corporate norm.



Demonstrable improvements in all areas.

The greatest improvement being in the reduction in number of attendees who were at a higher risk (than the general population) of developing a common mental health disorder.


Statistically better post workshops…

Apart from depersonalisation and personal accomplishment measures, BDO’s resilience and wellbeing were less favourable than corporate/industry norm prior to workshops. All BDO’s resilience and wellbeing measures were statistically better post workshops

Report produced by Evie Dilkes, Psychometric Analyst and Dana Jammal, Counselling Psychologist. If you have any further questions about this report, please get in touch with Evie Dilkes by email:

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