Psychological Safety and Mental Health

Psychological safety – the shared feeling that it is safe to show one’s true self and to take risks in a group – is considered to be a crucial ingredient of team performance. It was even identified as the most important factor in high performing teams by Google’s ‘Project Aristotle’ research, underpinning all other factors. It is also a concept closely interwoven with resilience and wellbeing, laying the grounds for trusting, supportive relationships amongst colleagues.

One area less often focused on is the importance of psychological safety for employees to feel comfortable in raising mental health concerns at work.

The decision of whether or not to reveal a personal mental health issue in the workplace is not an easy one. Whilst some may decide against it based on factors stemming from their own personality, beliefs or preferences, those who do want to share should not have to feel like their choice is risky. To allow this, employers need to foster cultures in which individuals feel supported to talk about mental health openly, without fear of judgement or other negative consequences—in other words, psychologically safe cultures.

Whilst widely talked about, psychological safety does not yet seem to be common in practice. Recent research identified that over 50% of employees in global organisations have felt psychologically unsafe at work. Below are some key considerations for managers who want to increase the overall psychological safety in their team(s):

  • Demonstrate trust in team members – for example, giving people more autonomy in their roles.
  • Own your mistakes, and encourage team members to do the same. Focus not on blame – no one deserves to be embarrassed or punished – but turn them into learning experiences that the whole group can benefit from.
  • Promote honest, open feedback in all directions (including positive feedback).
  • Support team members in trying new approaches, even if it feels risky. Knowing that they have your support will enable individuals to embrace their creativity and bring innovation to their work.
  • Be open to all opinions, responding to ideas and suggestions in a way that shows employees that they are valued and respected. Responding negatively or dismissively can lead a person to feel that they are seen as incompetent, problematic or unaccepted.

As well as fostering a safe culture, it is also crucial to equip team members with a strong understanding of mental health issues and their impacts, through relevant training. This way, everyone will have the knowledge to be able to respond appropriately and have helpful discussions with colleagues.

This combination of psychological safety and well-informed team members should provide the best possible environment for employees to feel comfortable talking about mental health.

 

Find out about our wellbeing and resilience workshops here.

 

Body Image Comes With A Cost To Mental And Financial Wellbeing

When employers look to identify the drivers behind staff-related pressures, they naturally focus on workloads, team dynamics and even harassment.  They appreciate that difficulties at home such as relationships, bereavements and other problems will affect how an employee feels at work too, but we rarely see them considering ‘body image’ perceptions as a drainer for wellbeing.  Last year alone, 1 in 3 adults said they were so stressed about their body image that they felt overwhelmed and unable to cope.  

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (13th-19th May 2019 #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek) focuses on body image, and CEO of The Wellbeing Project, Sam Fuller, gives her view on how this transcends into wellbeing at work:

“Body image can affect people of all ages and have a direct impact on both their mental and financial wellbeing.  There is often a perceived or real expectation of how someone should look and dress both at work and socially within friendship groups, creating real pressure to fit the mould.  Social media constantly reminds individuals how they should look and dress; anxiety levels can spiral and confidence plummets along with self-esteem and belief as they try to keep pace with the changes and cost to their wallet.

Furthermore, concerns over body image can lead to financial debt, as millennials overspend on items to build and enhance body confidence, with clothes, make-up and material items used to boost this perception. ‘Fast fashion’ has introduced a rise in throwaway items and the need to replenish them constantly with new brands, colours and shapes.  We have seen employees’ clothing/accessory purchasing patterns change, now filling their online ‘baskets’ and pressing ‘buy’ at one minute past midnight on payday.  Clothes, aesthetic treatments and even gym memberships come before food, evidenced by the reported rise in the uptake of free fruit or subsidised meals at work towards the end of a month

This high and fast spend on ‘personal’ items fits with rising concerns over body image. Obviously, not all financial burdens are related to image-conscious purchasing, but we do know that a large proportion of employees are struggling to make ends meet.

We know that wellbeing support is on the radar for many employers, but we’d like to see this pushed to the forefront and made actionable. Mental health will not be disappearing, so enabling employees to develop and build their own resilience and wellbeing is key to how they respond to these rising worries and pressures. Those employers who embrace this approach will reap the rewards with a workforce that is more engaged, connected, happy and focused.”

 

The Role Of Digital Tech In Boosting Resilience

When we think about technology these days, there is a slight undercurrent of scepticism. With many living in an ‘always on’ culture, we are so often reminded to put our phones down, disconnect from the digital world and interact with the real world more. And whilst this is certainly advice worth following, in practice it isn’t always easy and can seem altogether unmanageable.

Instead of simply trying to cut down the overall time spent on your phone, it can also help to take the approach of making tech work for you. Being able to fill every spare moment with something on our phone can make us feel busier than we really are, whilst actually detracting from productivity. But by tailoring what is on your phone so that it best serves you and your individual needs, it can become a helpful tool in improving resilience, wellbeing and efficiency, rather than a drain on these things.

Below are several areas in which tech can be used to support resilience:

Time management – A good time-tracking app can be a hugely valuable tool in maximising productivity and minimising stress. These can be used to plan your day, allocating time for breaks and acting as a timer to ensure you keep on schedule. There are also apps that record how you spend time on your phone, so if you feel like you lose a lot of time this way, these could be a great starting point for knowing where to try to cut down.

Mental wellbeing – ‘Wellness’ apps are everywhere at the moment. If you download too many, you won’t end up using them regularly, so it’s best to pick one or two to really focus on. A combination of a meditation (or other relaxation) app and a mood-tracking app can be highly effective – or you might find the two combined. Together, these practices can not only decrease stress and increase positive mood but also arm you with insight into your own patterns of feelings and emotions and how these are influenced by different factors.

Physical activity – Exercise apps are also plentiful, with many linked to wearable devices. Even without these accessories, these apps can remind you to get up and move regularly, guide you through workout routines, track your activity and coach you to reach your fitness goals. Whether you choose running, yoga, walking or anything else, regular exercise is a sure-fire way to boost your mood and personal resilience – and these apps can provide much-needed support with creating and maintaining a regular routine.

Habit tracking – This one will vary greatly depending on your personal goals, but the principle remains the same. Whatever healthy habits you are trying to cultivate, it can take some time to get into a reliable routine with them. Tracking your efforts can provide encouragement and show you how far you’ve come – whether you’re trying to get more fresh air, read something every day, learn a new language… just about anything can benefit from being tracked, at least until the habit is truly ingrained.

Conscious social media use – Social media’s reputation has suffered a great deal recently. Whilst some people (and companies) are choosing to abandon it altogether, it might be worth considering whether you can turn things around and use it to your advantage. This may take a bit of a digital tidy-up and a spree of unfollowing, to pave the way for meaningful connections on whichever platform(s) you choose. If an account that you follow doesn’t make you feel good or provide something of value to you, consider whether you’d be better off not seeing its posts. Aim to tailor your feed so that it’s filled with positive, healthy inspiration and informative posts from people and/or organisations you care about. Even then, remember not to get caught up in never-ending scrolling – aim to limit your social media time each day.

Spending tracking – Whilst looking at your bank balance may not seem conducive to wellbeing at first, keeping on top of your finances and being fully aware of the state of your spending removes the dreaded feeling of not quite knowing. Apps that track your spending across multiple accounts and cards are really helpful here, highlighting how your income ends up being distributed across different areas such as bills, rent/mortgage, groceries, socialising etc. This can be incredibly enlightening and equips you with the knowledge to make more informed, confident decisions when it comes to budgeting, spending and saving.

In today’s world, the choice of apps can be overwhelming. If something isn’t working for you, it‘s worth trying a few other options – you’re bound to find one that suits you, that you will enjoy using and stick with. If you’re not sure where to start and are looking for some initial ideas, here are a few previous suggestions from us.

Find out about our resilience and wellbeing workshops here. 

Cigna Wellbeing Survey

This week, healthcare provider Cigna has launched it’s 2019 Wellbeing Survey report. CEO and Founder of The Wellbeing Project, Sam Fuller, was invited to join the panel – and she comments on the findings:

“The survey tells us how employees feel about themselves, their roles, their relationships, their working environment, their contribution, their physical and mental health and the huge impact it has on their ability to thrive and consistently perform at work.  This year’s clear and insightful data provides us with the knowledge and understanding to adapt interventions and address some of the common themes and new challenges emerging, it’s not a one-size fits all.   

It is time for organisations to step up and seize the opportunity to put wellbeing in everything that they do – to plan and build tailored wellbeing strategies that deliver far-reaching benefits with consistent commitment and budget. 

Wellbeing is the heart of an organisation’s competitive edge, its sustainability and its employee experience.”

Navigating Uncertainty

Navigating Uncertainty 

This month, our team have been finalising the design for a new 4-day Master Practitioner Accreditation Programme for Wraw, our psychometric tool which measures resilience and its impact on wellbeing.  As well as providing training in how to use Wraw to support coaching, we’ll be sharing slides and facilitation guides, so that Practitioners can deliver their own Wraw workshops. Part of this design process has included a review of our material, selecting the most relevant and impactful tools and techniques to share with our delegates.  There’s one specific exercise that feels particularly relevant in the current climate, and it centres on navigating uncertainty.

While change and flux can herald opportunity, there is often also a period of uncertainty. As certain pieces of the jigsaw start to slide into place, new ways of working emerge. However, when finite answers remain elusive, how do you navigate this uncertainty?

Professional And Personal Uncertainty

For many individuals, the current political climate places question marks over how and where they might be working in 12 months’ time.

Within the 5 Pillars of Resilience which underpin Wraw, Pillar 2 – Future Focus – can provide you with ways of getting back in control and establishing your direction of travel.

Get Back In Control

The first step is to consider your situation and identify which aspects of it are directly within your control; what aspects you can influence and those that are simply outside your control at the current time. The most effective use of your energy and focus will be on aspects of this situation that are within your control.

On a piece of paper, draw three circles, as indicated below.  Start to list what aspects of your current situation would fall into which circle.

In the example mentioned above, your existing skills, knowledge and capabilities at work are all within your direct control.

However, perhaps the current flux has made you less sure of how relevant these will be in relation to changes that might lie ahead?

 Acknowledge What Needs To Change

The next step is to review those skills and identify where the gaps are – what needs to change? Within your skillset, which ones do you draw on the most?  Would any of these benefit from a quick refresh? Technical skills, in particular, can date – do you need to top up your knowledge in any specific area?

Considering your current situation, are there any specific skills you’re missing?  This could be extended technical knowledge or it might even be a case of enhancing your soft-skills. Is there any formal in-house training you can access? If not, consider the plethora of self-development literature available and set some time aside for self-directed learning.

Shoring up your knowledge-base and skill-set will extend your capacity to flex your capabilities and respond to new opportunities as they emerge.

Define Your Future Focus

While change brings opportunity, uncertainty as to which way the dice will actually roll means there will be benefit in thinking ahead. Working with the existing example, what would be the ideal outcome for you, over the next six to 12 months – your Plan A?  How can you channel your skills into this?  Are there any conversations you could have now that might influence that outcome in a positive way?

What’s your Plan B?  While Plan A may be your preferred route, developing a contingency plan will allow you to switch swiftly across to that if things don’t quite go to plan. Again, how can you influence what happens in this space?

Plan Your Route To Success

Now that you know your direction of travel, it’s time to programme your route.  Set a timeline for reaching your ultimate ‘destination’ and identify what this means in terms of when you want to achieve certain key milestones. Create a check-in process either with yourself or a trusted colleague/peer to ensure you stay on course. In this way, if the waters around you continue to churn, you’ll still have a clear view of your own personal horizon.

Restore Clarity And Focus

Navigating uncertainty needn’t be a case of leaving yourself open to the elements. By taking time to understand what you can control and by identifying your most-preferred outcome, you can plan your direction of travel.  Restoring individual clarity and focus will ensure you remain resourceful and resilient through an extended period of change.

 

If you’d like to find out more about becoming accredited to use Wraw, please visit our website: https://wrawindex.com/wraw-accreditation/

Alternatively, if you’d like us to deliver Wraw directly into your organisation, please get in touch and ask us about our client programmes: team@thewellbeingproject.co.uk

Are you Role Modelling Wellbeing?

Businesses are experiencing a greater rate of change than ever before  – career needs, technological advancements, diversity in the workplace, customer demographics and generational expectations are constantly shifting and evolving. In the face of such widespread change, it’s important to be aware of, and to proactively manage, our mental health and wellbeing.

Mental health and wellbeing describe our mental and emotional state – the way we think, feel, behave and our ability to cope with demands and unexpected events in our daily life.

Facilitating A Culture Of Wellbeing

Leaders and managers have an opportunity to personally role model healthy behaviours and to facilitate a culture that engenders support, with open dialogue, respect and recognition for performance leading to better understanding and more common ground. In doing so, they set a series of explicit and implicit permissions for each individual to take steps to promote greater wellbeing in themselves.

Leading From The Front

There are some simple, straightforward ways to practice personal wellbeing as a leader:

  • What simple lifestyle changes can you make to best manage work-home boundaries, and are there any opportunities to improve your exercise, sleep, nutrition, and hydration? These aspects of self-care can sometimes slip when we’re busy, and it’s important to nudge them back on track.
  • Consider the sources of your stress at work and home and decide what you could act on, what’s within your control, and what you can influence. Sometimes taking time to order your thoughts allows you to identify where there might be an opportunity to adjust a timeline, ask for help, or manage others’ expectations about how much you can actually do.
  • Take time every day to recognise and reflect on your achievements and what you’re doing well. How do these connect with your personal beliefs and values? Remembering our ‘why’ can help us maintain perspective and focus.

All of the above can also be discussed at a team level – encouraging open dialogue and building understanding that’s based on more than just the ‘role’ that people fulfil at work. When you as a leader role model healthy behaviours, your team members will feel empowered to do the same.

Leading From Within

To support and sustain healthy behaviours in your team:

  • Consider how your leadership style and approach may impact on the wellbeing of your team – encourage and invite feedback and seek to be adaptive to get the best from individuals.
  • Diarise regular team check-ins to proactively manage work-related factors; ensure updates and changes are well communicated so there are no sudden surprises when the team needs to do something differently; most importantly, build time into the agenda for a non-functional catch up, allowing team members to get to know each other on a personal level too.
  • Openly demonstrate healthy behaviours and practices and explain how your own approaches support your personal wellbeing; encourage everyone in the team to reflect on and share their own approaches to build awareness of different needs.
  • Build a sound understanding of the organisation’s training and resources which support wellbeing and resilience. These can take many forms, including face-to-face training, webinars, online learning and even special interest groups. Try them out if you can, and share your experience with the team – this will encourage them to do the same.

Role modelling wellbeing is not rocket science. It can be built into your everyday behaviours as a leader or manager.  In doing so, you will strengthen your team from the inside out, so that you are better able to navigate the challenges that change can bring.

More information on our wellbeing and resilience workshops can be found here.

https://thewellbeingproject.co.uk/ourservices/resilience-workshops-resources/

 

 

Meetings That Matter

We’re now several weeks into a new year, and many of us will be settling into a comfortable pace of work. Whether you took some time away from the proverbial ‘coal face’ over the festive period, or simply used the ‘lull’ in normal work-flow to catch up on your To Do list, January is often a month which marks the start of a new approach as to how we blend the demands of work with other commitments in our life.

When we ask our clients, ‘What challenges your resilience day-to-day?’, meetings are one of the most commonly-cited ‘time-stealers’ that they experience. Not only do poorly run meetings eat into valuable work-time, they can also push the whole diary out so that ‘after hours’ working becomes the go-to solution and extended hours threaten to become a toxic norm.

Take a moment to consider your usual weekly diary – do you know in advance of each week who you’ll be meeting with, and why? Have you laid time aside to prepare for the meeting, to ensure you make an effective contribution to discussions? Equally, have you apportioned time to make some notes post-meeting, including kick-starting key actions that might be assigned to you? Finally, if there are meetings already diarised, are they generally scheduled to run for 30-60 minutes, or are they open-ended, posing a potential threat to your planning for the remainder of that day?

Here are six time-savvy tips to ensure that meetings add to your work-day, rather than detract from it:

1. DIARY PLANNING – Take a good look at your diary of upcoming meetings and consider the balance between desk-time and meeting-time. Are you overloading your diary with meetings, leaving little time for ‘getting on with things’? It’s as important to book good quality desk-time into your diary as it is to schedule effective meetings. Consider what your optimum balance is and ensure desk-time has appropriate representation. Also consider whether meetings are better between certain hours. This will be more complex to manage in international teams, but it’s still worth reviewing. If you’re UK based, post 3pm on a Friday is not going to set you up for success.

2. TIMINGS – The most effective meetings run for 30-60 minutes. Any longer and it’s worth building in a brief comfort break to re-focus and re-energise. The longer you run on without a break, the more likely it is that the meeting veers off-topic. If there are multiple topics to address, consider several short, sharp, targeted meetings instead, with a clear 15-minute break between them. Where an internal meeting is scheduled for 60 minutes, consider working together to finish around 10 minutes early, allowing everyone time to complete their notes and clarify actions.

3. AGENDA – A clear and concise agenda is key. It forms a backbone for the meeting and helps to keep discussions on track. If you’ve been invited to a meeting without an agenda, contact the organiser and ask for one. Ensure AOB is just that – don’t use it as a catch-all. Take time to ensure all agenda items are suitably listed. This will quickly flush out if a meeting is likely to expand outside of the planned time-frame, and you can revise the timings accordingly. Far better to manage expectations at the outset than start to eat into other timings in your (and others’) work-day. Before the meeting ends, review the agenda points to clarify ownership (who, what, when) against agreed action points. This may not feel like it saves time in the meeting itself, but it will certainly save time afterwards, when everyone is clear on what’s required, by when and from whom.

4. OUTCOME – Consider what will make the meeting successful for you – what’s your desired outcome? Is it to share knowledge, secure sign-off, gain important updates on a project? Knowing what you want to achieve before you go into the meeting will ensure it’s an effective use of your time.

5. BEFORE AND AFTER – With busy diaries it can be difficult to find time to adequately prepare in advance of a meeting. For each meeting that you schedule, build in 15-30 minutes before the meeting to allow you to prepare mentally – refresh your reading, finalise your notes. Build time in after the meeting to update your notes and kick-start any actions required from you. Schedule or reserve time in your diary now to complete any extended actions. This ensures these actions don’t over-ride other commitments or slide into a black hole.

6. QUALITY NOT QUANTITY – In many workplaces, a meeting culture is one that erodes productivity rather than supports it. High-quality meetings bring key stakeholders together to build consensus and agree shared outcomes. Low-quality meetings simply place a variety of people in the same room or on the same video call, on the premise of discussing a shared project. Aim for quality rather than quantity – consider timings, agenda, preparation and follow-up as basic house-keeping – everyone, including you, will benefit from this.

In today’s workplace, meetings take many forms and blend a range of formats and technology. The above ‘basics’ can be applied to most scenarios. Making meetings matter will ensure that you’re able to benefit from good quality connection that supports effective collaboration.

How will you make your meetings matter?

To find out more about our resilience workshops, please visit: www.thewellbeingproject.co.uk

Seasonal wishes

Seasonal Message from our Founder & CEO, Sam Fuller

Writing our end of year reviews has taught me to appreciate all of the great things that have happened over the last 12 months. It’s easy to look back and remember challenging workloads and the fast pace that we’ve adopted to push projects successfully across the finish line, but when you take stock of what you’ve actually accomplished during the year, it’s incredibly satisfying.  Please read on to hear about some of the highlights.

Launch of the Wraw Psychometric Tool and Survey

The launch of Wraw, the world’s first psychometric tool and survey that measures resilience and its impact on wellbeing in the workplace, was a peak moment for all of the team. Drawing on an evidence-based, validated, tried and tested model we are super proud of what we’ve built and how it will support individuals across the whole continuum of wellbeing and resilience.

Feedback has been outstanding and we can’t wait to share more in 2019 on the improvements and ROI organisations and individuals have made as a result of the Wraw feedback and resources.  One example of our client feedback this year is:

At AstraZeneca we had a Senior Leadership Team with some members that were sceptical about wellbeing and resilience. The Wraw reports supported a workshop (run by The Wellbeing Project) which rapidly became a forum for very open and honest discussion about how we behave as individuals and as a team, and more importantly, the environment we create for our workforce. By the end of the workshop the scepticism was gone and we have an action plan that we believe will be impactful for the team and our organisation.

Claire Sloman, Director of Human Resources and Business Operations, AstraZeneca UKM

Our practitioner feedback is also very positive:

I just wanted to say a very big ‘Thank you’ for a fantastic couple of days working with you and the team from The Wellbeing Project and learning all about Wraw. I am genuinely impressed by the tool and all the support systems you have in place around it and am excited by the opportunities it presents to help strengthen Resilience and Healthy High Performance.

Sally Leese, Sally Leese Associates

Changes To Legislation?

A bright light continues to be shone on mental health, and we wait with anticipation to understand the potential changes to legislation, and necessary employer buy-in and commitment, so that mental and physical health and safety are aligned in the workplace.

We are delighted to have had a place at the table presenting, discussing and debating the changes and benefits of workplace wellbeing. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Brexit and Resilience – Building resilience through challenging times
  • Global Employee Engagement Awards (UK) – Wellbeing judge
  • Mad World 2018 – presenting Wraw at ‘Tech to the Rescue’ – The Latest and Greatest Tech Companies
  • Bankers Association for Finance and Trade (BAFT) Global Annual Meeting – panel member of People vs. Robots
  • CIPD – Supporting Healthy High Performance
  • National Innovation Network – Women in Leadership
  • Mental Wellbeing Summit, Dublin – Building and Sustaining a Culture of Resilience at Work

Wellbeing Digital Learning

A key future focus for us next year is to build a digital learning platform that dovetails with our Wraw psychometric tool and survey, providing bursts of knowledge and practical learning for individuals, teams and leaders as they set targets to not only raise awareness but to find credible and accessible solutions that are scalable and accessible for everyone.

Walking The Talk

2018 has most definitely been a year where workplace wellbeing and focus has soared; the growth of The Wellbeing Project and its team of experts reinforces that shift.  We are determined during these exciting but demanding times to walk the talk, to live and breathe the five pillars of resilience in everything we do, and to build better futures for our employees as well as those organisations we support.

Here are some examples:

5 Pillars of Resilience

Energy Pillar 

  • Encouraging regular breaks and flexible working to attend exercise classes, hobbies or groups
  • Regular check-ins to understand work-life blend and project or task priorities
  • Wellbeing allowance for all employees

Future Focus

  • Personal development allowance for all employees
  • Team involvement in strategy meetings and targets
  • Living our vision, values and mission

Inner Drive

  • Managing the natural perseverance and grit to get the job done within the team – avoiding a strength turning into a weakness
  • Constructive feedback on performance, highlighting strengths, learning from mistakes
  • Setting standards for best behaviour across the team and for leaders – supporting confidence and self-belief

Flexible Thinking

  • Creating new opportunities to grow and develop within the team
  • Open to new ideas, technology and ways of working with our clients
  • Appreciating and accommodating working arrangements when life changes for the team outside of the office

Strong Relationships

  • Allowing time for the little things – saying thank you, making time to catch up with one another on life outside of work
  • Treating one another as equals – avoiding hierarchies
  • No blame culture – openness about what hasn’t gone well and learning from the event, committing to improving it

 

A huge thank you to all our clients, supporters and readers for your lovely feedback and the trust in us to do a good job.

We look forward to working, meeting and listening to your thoughts in 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking The Lead On Mental Wellbeing

On 9th November we were among those attending the ISMA Growth 2018 conference in London, marking the 20th anniversary of National Stress Awareness Day and the very first Stress Awareness Week.  Carole Spiers, the brains and engine behind this event, brought together over 100 wellbeing professionals to discuss and share best practice in the field of wellbeing.

Top of the agenda for the keynote speakers was a topic which is currently taking pole position in numerous boardroom discussions: how do we support and promote mental wellbeing in our people?

Leading Through Trauma

Up first, with the opening address, was Dany Cotton, Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, who shared her very personal and poignant experience of leading her firefighters through the immediate events and longer-term aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in London, June 2017.

As the room listened, Dany explained her ethos and approach to taking care of her firefighters, both then and now, with a specific focus on mental health. What became clear was that in order to effectively lead her firefighters through that period of time, she also had to lead herself. Following on from Grenfell, Dany personally accessed counselling and treatment to help her process and make sense of the events. She chose to speak openly about this and took the important decision to ensure that counselling services were immediately available to all firefighters involved; not just on site before they went home, but also as a continued resource for everyone over subsequent months. Supporting wellbeing, she explained, was not just a one-off, it was a constant and by role-modelling a positive approach to proactively managing her own mental health, she had encouraged and inspired others to do the same.

Proactive Steps

In the aftermath of Grenfell, leadership within the fire service has sought to truly embrace the principles of a ‘caring organisation’ and work continues across the board to foster open dialogue, ensuring all personnel have access to support and resources which proactively promote personal wellbeing.

At the end of her keynote, Dany was asked what her advice would be to other leaders.  Her response was:

  1. Be honest and talk openly about your own experience; lift the lid and in doing so, you’ll set the tone for others to do the same.
  2. Be proactive and have an intervention in place before something happens; your people are the biggest cost to your business and also the biggest risk if something goes wrong.

Dany Cotton’s address reflected many of the discussions we have with our clients about the role that leaders can play in truly shaping a culture of wellbeing.  How leaders talk and act creates a series of explicit and implicit permissions that inform the culture of an organisation.   When employees feel supported to proactively maintain their mental health, they are stronger and more resilient for it.

Reflecting on your organisation – does your top team demonstrate resilient leadership?  Are your people informed on how to support and maintain their wellbeing?

If your answer to either of these is ‘not sure’, why not get in touch and find out more about how we can help foster a climate of healthy high performance in your organisation.

 

Quick Links

Mental wellbeing– MHFA accredited and tailored mental wellbeing workshops

Wraw psychometric tool – reports and resources to support wellbeing at work

 

Open workshops – now taking bookings for 2019

Want to get 2019 off to a flying start?  Check out our open courses here.

 

Mental health – is your organisation up to speed?

A recent study links open and supportive workplaces with greater motivation and better retention.

 

Will mental health at work be added to current legislation?

The UK’s biggest employers are calling for the government to prioritise its manifesto pledge so that mental health at work is valued in the same way as physical health.

 

 

Learning For Life

Learning is one of the most beneficial activities you can undertake for positive mental wellbeing, bringing some advantages that may be unexpected, as well as the more obvious. For example, learning will clearly increase your skills, which can help in an existing role or in the search for a new job, and of course, this is why many undertake education as an adult. Less obvious but just as valuable, it also shifts your perspective, boosts resilience and mental wellbeing, and brings about changes in the brain. It even benefits your physical health.

Sam Fuller, Founder and Managing Director of The Wellbeing Project, explains that one of the less apparent benefits of learning is that it bolsters emotional resilience. This happens because, by learning, we are taking control and moving forward.  This leads to a sense of feeling fulfilled and satisfied, which boosts confidence and self-belief.

‘We are not “finished articles”,’ says Sam. ‘Life is constantly moving – it’s fluid, not static – and learning opens up new horizons, giving us a fresh perspective.  As we try new things, we learn more about ourselves.’

Resilience is also helped by the physical changes that occur in the brain when we learn.  Learning new skills opens new neural pathways – we are literally opening our minds.

Mental and Physical Benefits

Learning is a great boon to long-term mental wellbeing as one British study shows. It found almost nine out of 10 individuals who were short-listed for adult learning awards reported positive emotional or mental health benefits. Evidence suggests that adult learning seems to have its most positive impact on self-esteem and self-efficacy when it meets the needs of the learner, and when the learner is at a stage in their life when they are ready and receptive to benefit from it.

Perhaps surprisingly, learning can also have a positive effect on physical health, with research showing that one year of formal education can add more than half a year to a person’s lifespan.

There are practical reasons for continuing to learn too. As we live and work longer, the changes to our working lives mean we need to keep up-to-date.  As this article from Harvard Business Review explains, the benefits of learning include being better able to adapt to workplace changes – increasing technology, for example – especially as it impacts on the motivation to embrace them.

Grabbing Opportunities

Given the additional years we will be working, many of us may outlive the career plans we set when we were younger. There is such a variety of different working arrangements now on offer that there are all sorts of opportunities which we couldn’t have envisaged in the past.  Learning puts you in a place to be able to seize them, which circles back into resilience, especially given the connection between learning and a growth mindset.

As Prof. Carol Dweck sets out, people with a growth mindset believe that their basic qualities can be developed and their innate traits are the starting point. This viewpoint creates a mindset that embraces new challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow.  The individual doesn’t fear failure because it is simply a chance to learn from the experience. For example, ‘clever’ is something you achieve and work towards rather than being innate.

This is in contrast to a fixed mindset in which people believe their basic qualities – such as intelligence or talents – are fixed traits so they tend to see feedback or learning in terms of how it evaluates their abilities. For example, you’re born ‘clever’ and tests prove or disprove that.

Sam explains that having a growth mindset is an important part of being resilient and having buoyant mental wellbeing, and learning helps achieve and maintain that outlook.

‘If we’re going to be able to take advantage of all the opportunities and possibilities that come our way, it makes sense to approach this with a growth mindset, rather than fixed – adapting and evolving to address the requirements of our working context,’ she says.

Job Satisfaction

Of course, learning also helps us to do our existing jobs better. The sense of improvement and moving forward in a role inevitably brings about increased job satisfaction.  Such is the power of learning for work that research has shown the rise in job satisfaction caused by job-related training is comparable to the increase gained from a 1% increase in hourly wages.

And research reveals that taking a part-time course for work over the past year has been estimated to give wellbeing benefits equivalent to £1,584 of income per year.

But learning need not be formal for the benefits to be experienced. Taking the time to read around a subject or having a curiosity about other departments or roles in your organisation is also a form of learning. Being open to new experiences and learning opportunities will help foster a growth mindset, boost resilience and wellbeing.

As Sam points out: ‘Our appetite to learn, and our curiosity to find out more about different things in life, is at the heart of long-term resilience. Just as when we travel to new countries and experience different cultures, so we can learn new things, join new interest groups and pick up new skills – the whole time we’re adding new facets to our life, new people and relationships, new connections, new knowledge.’