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wellbeing

10 COVID-19 recovery tips for business

By Thom Dennis, CEO at Serenity In Leadership

There has been a huge cost to the pandemic but there has also been a lot of necessary learning which needs to be integrated into current organisational cultures to be sustainable, resilient and to last beyond the pandemic. Whilst the pandemic is likely to have increased anxiety and difficulties, it will also create new perspectives as to which work practices are outdated and need to change within organisations.  Many businesses will need help to come back in 2021 and beyond, but in a very different way.  Here are Thom Dennis’ top tips:-

  1. LEADERS NEED TO LEAD.  There has never been a time more important for leaders to lead with compassion, clarity, courage and conviction. Whilst the future for many businesses is uncertain, 2021 will not be a time for going back to as we were.  It will be a year where we have to look at what worked, what didn’t, how we adapted and stayed agile and nimble, and what we need to do going forwards. 
  2. BUILD TRUST – Trust is at the core of any healthy relationship. Building, or in some cases rebuilding, trust starts through recognising each other’s efforts and showing gratitude. Being transparent and communicating clearly through shared knowledge and welcoming honest feedback are key. Experiential learning means listening openly too instead of just being ‘spoken to’. It is not possible to force people to engage, they must do it willingly. This is really not the time for token gestures.
  3. IDENTIFY PRE-EXISTING SYSTEMIC VULNERABILITIES – Look behind the wallpaper and under the carpets at how things worked and didn’t work well for the last few years, and in particular in 2020.  Business leaders need to re-evaluate long term vision, purpose, values, mission statements and goals – not as add-ons but as values to be lived and breathed throughoutthe organisation. Change is here whether we like it or not so we should always choose changing for the better. 
  4. FLEXIBLE PLAN – Leaders need to have a flexible plan that prepares for today whilst also being ready for whatever tomorrow brings in the world and workplace which are in constant flux.  Being rigid will close doors and remove opportunities.
  5. ENSURE REAL EQUALITY. Many of us are feeling increasingly insecure about our jobs at the moment, so showing unconscious bias or favouritism or providing unequal opportunities at work will deplete all aspects of the business including the bottom line. We need to create the space to hold difficult conversations, particularly if individuals are speaking from a place of frustration, anger or personal experience. A successful conversation is characterised by the amount of listening that took place.
  6. PRIORITISE WELLBEING & WORK BOUNDARIES – If we are working from home, we need to have home/work boundaries. Many of us are very efficient at working from home but some find it hard to stop working based on the need to constantly prove ourselves and the absence of a natural break brought about by the travel home. These new issues in the home and office mean employers’ priorities need to change around wellbeing. Find out what your employees need, and bear in mind that different people may well have contrasting needs. Be clear about expectations and the importance of physical and mental health. Far more than before, individuals will successfully tackle the same problem in a variety of different ways – the approach to management needs to reflect this.
  7. MAINTAIN DIVERSITY – Amplifying diverse voices will lead to a more innovative, balanced and creative workplace. Relatability and cultural sensitivity may work well with some audiences, but potentially alienate others.  We recommend workshops that try role play/switching and reverse mentoring, or storytelling through true stories as just a few ideas.  
  8. EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION – 50% of what lands when we are speaking/communicating is our body language, 43% is tone, and just 7% is the content of the words.  When it comes to being heard, it shouldn’t be about convincing people to have the same view. It is important to create spaces and cultures where people can have conversations to exchange opinions, views and understand why these may result in different emotional responses. Employees need to truly be heard, if not seen at the moment.
  9. LEARNING AS A TEAM – Unity and commitment by the whole team is needed and will only happen if everyone buys into the company’s values. Find ways to develop the team even if it’s just through virtual teamwork. Meetings, education and connection can all happen online in a safe space – establishing and maintaining psychological safety is probably more important now than ever.
  10. ALIGN THE BUSINESS – Reinvent communication and operational plans, knowing and mitigating your risks to produce the best possible outcome for the business and people who make up the business.  Tap into the thoughts of your employees, colleagues and customers at all levels to develop 20:21 vision.

Investing in mental health awareness training pays

Organisations have the opportunity to make positive cultural change and strengthen their future, whilst supporting employees with their mental health, says iHASCO

In the latest published results of the study, ‘Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic’, it has been found 64% of people feel that they are not coping with pandemic-related stress well. The temporary hope as lockdown eased has now been replaced with an understanding that the virus is still playing havoc with people’s lives. With further government restrictions introduced to try to prevent the infection rate from spiraling out of control, the uncertainties for individuals and businesses this winter remain high. With financial worries, health concerns and more, the pandemic is certainly contributing to a lack of resilience and poor mental health across the UK.

A ‘Mental Health Crisis’ 

The HSE figures for 2018/19 show that stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health cases, with 12.8 million working days lost. Now as a result of the pandemic, every business across the country may see a rise in mental health problems in their workforce, with figures even worse than those reported before COVID-19. Therefore, it is vital that employers can create healthy working environments and support employee mental health and wellbeing, not only to meet their legal obligations but to remain productive and to come through the other side of the pandemic in a much better place. It also presents an opportunity to contribute to breaking the negative stigma surrounding mental health, to ensure that as a nation we reach a point where it isn’t brave to open up about your mental health – rather, it’s ‘the norm’. As some organisations lead from the front, it may give others the confidence to follow and realise the positive benefits for all when tackling mental health in the workplace.

Adding to the crisis, it has been suggested in a report by the Centre for Mental Health that in the next two years 500,000 more people will experience mental ill-health conditions in the UK as a result of the pandemic. With a further period of economic downturn as a result of a second spike likely to see even more severe and longer lasting effects on mental health. 

“Now truly is the time for organisations to offer practical mental health and wellbeing support to their employees” explains Lottie Galvin, Mental Health First Aider at iHASCO. “The pandemic has shone a light on how crucial it is to acknowledge and address the emotional and mental struggles people are going through, many of whom were struggling long before COVID turned up on our doorstep.”

A recent report from Deloitte showed that employers can gain a 6:1 return on investment when supporting staff with mental health and wellbeing through organisation-wide culture/awareness raising. This could include initiatives such as tailored web portals, awareness training or personal exercise sessions. With poor mental health having the ability to hit a company’s bottom line hard, it seems like an obvious choice to address company culture if fostering a more caring, supportive attitude to mental health creates a more productive workforce. 

Implementing change

“One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways of offering mental health support is to provide your staff with Mental Health & Wellbeing eLearning” says Galvin, whose employer, iHASCO, has delivered over 115,000 online mental health-related training sessions. “It’s a starting point – our courses offer staff a way to learn and reflect privately on their feelings and behaviour, but they also empower people to find the courage to speak up. This starts to build a company culture where talking openly about our struggles becomes more commonplace and is met with kindness and understanding. Our courses also offer a variety of simple tools, tips and ideas that help learners to manage their own wellbeing and offer support to others on a daily basis. Inclusive and supportive organisations inspire a great deal of engagement, motivation, hard work and long term loyalty from a team of individuals who feel seen, heard and cared for.”

iHASCO’s Online mental health and wellbeing training courses include Mental Health Awareness, Building resilience, Managing Anxiety and Stress Awareness & Management, and offer employees easy access to quality information to support them with their wellbeing. Online awareness training can be used alongside other practices to champion employee mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, such as creating a mental health policy, offering counselling through Employee Assistance Programmes, appointing Mental Health First Aiders, regular one-to-ones with managers or simply by promoting a healthy lifestyle and making staff aware of mental health support lines offered by charitable organisations. 

The Coronavirus lockdown acted as a catalyst for starting conversations on wellbeing as employees up and down the country had their lives drastically changed almost overnight. Whether on furlough or working from home, anxiety levels were and still are at an all time high. Employers quickly had to react to this new situation and support employees, and discussions about how best to support mental health and wellbeing were underway across the nation. In times of uncertainty those equipped to better manage their anxiety levels and be resilient have been far less likely to suffer the effects of mental ill-health. Employers who address the issue of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace will reap the rewards whilst making a positive, cultural change, whilst companies not taking action may be left behind.

www.ihasco.co.uk

Do you specialise in Occupational Health & Wellbeing Services? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Health & Safety Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the security market – and in November we’ll be focussing on Occupational Health & Wellbeing Services in the wake of COVID-19.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help health & safety buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Occupational Health & Wellbeing solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Charlotte Humphreys on c.humphreys@forumevents.co.uk.

Here’s our full features list:

November – Occupational Health & Wellbeing Services

December – Health & Safety Software

January – First Aid Supplies

February – Behavioural Safety

March – Training Courses

April – Incident Reporting

May – Contractor Management

June – Site Safety

July – Lone Worker Safety & Equipment

August – Fire Safety Management

New WELL Building standard seeks to boost employee wellbeing

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) has formally launched the latest version of the WELL Building Standard – WELL v2, which it says is the most resilient and responsive version of its rating system to date.

The IWBI describes WELL v2 as a vehicle for buildings and organisations to deliver more thoughtful and intentional spaces that contribute to improved human health and well-being, including a set of strategies that aim to enhance human health through design interventions, operational protocols and policies and a commitment to fostering a culture of health and well-being.

Built upon the first version of the WELL Building Standard (WELL v1), WELL v2 draws expertise from a diverse community of WELL users, medical and design practitioners, public health professionals and building scientists around the world.

WELL v2 consolidates previous iterations and pilots into a single rating system that is designed to accommodate all project types and sectors. The system is intended to grow in specificity and specialty over time, adapting to accommodate diverse project types and geographies and in response to new evidence and ever-evolving public health imperatives.

The standard is centered on 10 concepts – Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind and Community – that impact human health and well-being.

Every feature within these concepts is underscored by available evidence that links design, policy and building-centric strategies to health and well-being outcomes; is third-party verified by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) through documentation and/or performance testing; has been tested through WELL v1 and/or the WELL v2 pilot, demonstrating adoption and uptake by more than 3,300 projects from a wide range of typologies representing more than 413 million square feet across 54 countries; and includes outside input from a diverse community of health and design practitioners, subject matter experts, users and other third parties.

“Better buildings, vibrant communities and stronger organizations have been at the core of our mission since we launched WELL in 2014,” said IWBI Chairman and CEO Rick Fedrizzi. “It was a long road to get here, but we’ve confirmed that WELL v2 is implacably strong, robust and resilient in the face of every challenge. From a global pandemic to social justice, WELL v2 has proved to be a relevant, scalable and global rating system that’s responsive, inclusive, technically robust, customer-focused and applicable for any organization or space type.”

“As the leading tool for advancing health and well-being globally, the WELL Building Standard helps people to work, live, perform and feel their best. With WELL as our vehicle, IWBI helps to translate what we know into what we practice,” said IWBI President Rachel Gutter. “We’ve channeled all that we have learned into a more accessible, adaptable and equitable rating system, which continues to be anchored by the latest scientific research and industry best practices. WELL v2 has demonstrated it is dynamic, resilient, validated and ready to change the world.

“Since the launch of the WELL v2 pilot in 2018, we’ve worked tirelessly to incorporate feedback from thousands of members of our global community – making certain that no stone was left unturned, no strategy left unexamined and no topic left untested. Now, as WELL v2 has graduated from pilot stage, this moment marks the culmination of years of co-creation that will ripple throughout buildings, communities and organizations throughout the world.”

The WELL v2 pilot was adopted by IWBI’s global community and since its release nearly 3,500 projects have registered to pursue WELL Certification under the pilot. A key element of the development process for WELL is securing input from a variety of individuals.

During the two-year pilot phase, WELL v2 underwent continuous improvement and refinement through a rigorous development process, including a six-month public comment period generating hundreds of comments; the review and feedback from more than 150 WELL concept advisors; thousands more comments during the final stakeholder review; and eight published addenda to provide clarifications and strategies supporting the implementation of the WELL v2 pilot across different projects and in different locations.

In addition, the IWBI Task Force on COVID-19, comprised of 16 globally acknowledged thought leaders in the role of co-chair and nearly 600 professional and market leaders and experts from 30 countries, collectively crowdsourced thousands more comments during a 40-day sprint to further assess ways in which WELL v2 could be further strengthened to better support prevention and preparedness, resiliency and recovery.

Through the rest of the year and beyond, IWBI will roll out new resources and tools that it says will transform the way individuals can engage with one another and IWBI’s digital platform. A new WELL v2 Skybridge Tool is designed to help practitioners evaluate key similarities and differences between the WELL v2 pilot and WELL v2.

With the graduation of WELL v2 from pilot, registration for new WELL v2 pilot and WELL v1 projects will close on December 31, 2020. The WELL AP exam will continue to be based on WELL v1 until the end of 2021

Female employees more concerned about health and wellbeing than male counterparts

GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector, asked 1,165 UK employees about their health and wellbeing concerns, and found that female employees have more concerns than their male colleagues.

The survey asked employees to consider six key areas of health and wellbeing and identify whether they were of personal concern to them. The results show that women have more concerns in three areas, one specific area concerned more men than women and they were equal in two areas..

  • Stress and anxiety relating to work (such as pressures of overwork, uncertainty of future) concerned 21% of women vs 18% of men.
  • Stress and anxiety relating to finances and debt concerned 18% of women vs 14% of men.
  • Stress and anxiety relating to living with long-term chronic illness or health conditions (such as diabetes) concerned 14% of women but only 8% of men.
  • Men were marginally more concerned than women about stress and anxiety relating to home life (such as caring responsibilities, managing difficult relationships) at 14% vs 12% for women.
  • Men and women were equally concerned (12%) about their general lack of fitness caused by a non-active lifestyle.
  • But neither were particularly concerned about ill-health related to lifestyle such as obesity, smoking and alcohol dependence (5%).

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRiD) said: “I’m sure that these results will surprise some employers and challenge the stereotypes that can be associated with gender in the workplace, for instance with women being more concerned about finances than men, and men more concerned than women about issues relating to home life. With that in mind, it’s hugely important that employers do not make assumptions about the health and wellbeing needs of their workforce on gender, or of course, any other basis.

“Changes in the law and workplace practices, such as shared parental leave, mean that work and home life are becoming much more balanced across both genders, and that needs to be reflected in the employee benefits that are offered to all staff.”

The concerns give a good indication of what support both men and women will value, and employers that offer such support will be ahead of the game. Providing help to alleviate stress from responsibilities at home; financial support; assistance with long-term health conditions – or to improve any area of health and wellbeing – will all be appreciated particularly as businesses adapt to working models which may be very different from pre-Covid 19.

A holistic and balanced employee benefits package that incorporates support for these areas will clearly be valued by a workforce.

Moxham added: “Most members of staff will be healthy and well throughout their entire time at work but no-one can predict what is just around the corner in terms of family or work life. An additional project at home, an ill child, sudden responsibilities as a carer, or health problems can all be difficult for an employee to manage at the same time as trying to work. And that’s without adding in any extra work pressures such as vying for a promotion or pay rise, navigating a relocation, or new responsibilities, or of course, new challenges that we’ve seen with Covid-19.

“No employer should expect their staff to leave their personal problems at the door any more but employers who have support mechanisms in place for their employees are able to intervene before the situation escalates, which is not only a great support for the individual but also mitigates the likelihood, frequency and length of any absence related to such issues.”

Hestia launches domestic abuse advice line for businesses

A new advice line for businesses supporting employees experiencing or at risk of domestic abuse has been launched by crisis support charity Hestia.

According to a TUC report, one in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime with 10 per cent of victims reporting abuse at work.

The Everyone’s Business Advice Line will be a point of contact for businesses, supporting them on how to approach disclosures of domestic abuse by their employees, particularly in light of Covid-19. They will also receive advice so that they can signpost staff to specialist domestic abuse services.

Hestia says lockdown has shown that home is not always safe for everyone, and with more people working remotely due to Covid-19, cases of domestic abuse are rising. The charity saw a 47 per cent increase in victims reaching out for information and support on its free domestic abuse app, Bright Sky.

While over 2.4 million people are affected by domestic abuse every year, it can be difficult for employers to recognise the signs and support those experiencing domestic abuse in their organisation. Hestia launched the Everyone’s Business programme to increase awareness and support in the workplace and have worked with over 70 organisations from the Metropolitan Police to Balfour Beatty.

Businesses play a significant role in supporting those who experience domestic abuse. Yet whilst 86 per cent employers agree they have a duty of care to support employees experiencing domestic abuse, fewer than one in three victims disclose the abuse at work, citing ‘shame’ and ‘privacy’.

It’s also expensive, costing employers upwards of £14 billion every year, when measuring based on reduced employee productivity and lost output due to time off work.

Lyndsey Dearlove, Head of Everyone’s Business Advice Line at Hestia said: “Lockdown has meant victims have been away from their place of work, in isolation with their abusers, often with no way to seek support. Now, as more people return to their place of work, employers have a unique role to play in breaking the silence around domestic abuse.

“By providing a free advice line that offers guidance, employers will be able to help their employees and direct them to practical support. When employers take action and respond to domestic abuse, we know it saves lives. For too long domestic abuse has been nobody’s business and it is time it becomes everyone’s business.”

Elizabeth Filkin, Chair, Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse offered: “Members of the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse believe that domestic abuse is everyone’s business, and that businesses have a critical role to play in supporting those affected by domestic abuse. With Covid-19 and lockdown we know that domestic abuse, and at the same time employees may be finding it difficult to know how their staff are doing. We know that it’s not always easy to know what to do when domestic abuse, so having the Everyone’s Business Advice Line available for HR professionals or managers to support them and guide them is a very valuable resource.”

Susan Bright, Global Managing Partner for Diversity & Inclusion and Responsible Business at Hogan Lovells, added: “Domestic abuse can have devastating consequences, and leave people faced with impossible life choices. Employers have an important role to play in supporting their employees, particularly this year and during the pandemic. We welcome the launch of the new advice line and hope that it will ease some of the pressure on those who are vulnerable.”

A survivor of domestic abuse said: “When my employer started working with Hestia, it was a turning point. This was my last resort to get help. I met with their Independent Domestic Violence Advocate and talked about my experience. It was the first time I felt believed. It was like a weight had been lifted. Without this service, I don’t know what would have happened. It is vital that businesses can provide this type of service. I want to tell anyone who is in the same situation I was in that talking to someone can make so much difference – speak to your employer.”

For more information and the contact details, visit https://www.hestia.org/everyonesbusiness