Employee wellbeing

What, why and how

An article by Claire Lewis 23-10-2017

 

There have been great efforts recently to raise awareness of mental health and encouraging employers to take a certain level of responsibility in supporting the health and wellbeing of their employees. We are a user centred consultancy where much of our time is spent on understanding the needs of our client’s users. Over the last year as an organisation we have tried to apply the same curiosity and principles to better understand how we can support our team on an individual level and contribute to their physical and mental wellbeing.

Employee wellbeing at Edo

The nature of the way we work as a consultancy means that much of our work is project based and involves working with external clients. These two factors mean that there will always be set time frames to work to, external factors that affect project plans / timings  and a constant, but fluctuating, level of pressure that is needed in a healthy dose to ensure that projects are completed to the highest of standards, and on time. Pressure and a certain amount of stress are not necessarily negative things, but when mismanaged or left unattended they can evolve into an overwhelming sensation of feeling out of control, stressed beyond an effective level and can even make us ill. As an organisation we are not immune to any of the above, but have taken steps to open a conversation to let everyone know that it’s ok to not be ok all the time and to start to take action in supporting the team.

What next?

As we start to transition into the season of winter,  the pace of work in the Edo offices starts to pick up speed as well as the personal challenges of adapting to less daylight hours, colder weather and avoiding catching a cold or flu. Our People & Partnerships team have identified a number of achievable actions to help keep the team mentally and physically well. Here are few things we will be focusing on in the coming months:

  • Encourage our team to keep active by continuing lunchtime running and yoga sessions, as well as promoting flexible working to allow people to get to lunch time classes or gym sessions
  • Add herbal teas to the weekly shopping order to offer an alternative to caffeinated drinks
  • Plan social events to give the team an opportunity to unwind together and socialise without the pressures of works. The first event planned is a wine and cheese evening at the start of November
  • Encourage people to work from home if they feel like they are starting to get ill - therefore keeping the germs contained and allowing them to get a bit of extra sleep
  • Organise a weekly lunchtime ‘Soup & Bread’ club for those who would like to be part of a home-made soup rota
  • Continue to engage with the team through monthly, anonymous check-ins to ensure that we are on the right track with supporting everyone

There are a few more surprises in the pipeline for the team which we will keep to ourselves for now! From a more formal learning and development point of view we have two training sessions with Mind Bristol  coming up to get our managers up to speed on how to approach mental health challenges within their teams. Out of this training we hope to increase awareness not only of the various ways mental health challenges can manifest, but also to understand how much or little intervention is appropriate. As an organisation it is our responsibility to create a culture which is open and honest, but if individuals aren’t ready to ‘get better’ then we can only do so much. This doesn’t mean that we give up on people who are struggling and aren’t seeking help, it simply means we accept that the old saying of “you can walk a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” applies here.

Finally...

In whatever capacity you are reading this, the most important thing to remember when reflecting on how to increase the wellbeing of others (or yourself) is that we all have different needs and varying levels of resilience. What is one person’s therapy, is another person’s trigger. In order to start this process of support we must begin by listening without judgement. Whether you are a manager, part of a leadership team or a fellow team member, listen to what individuals need and pay attention to when action is needed. When it comes to health and wellbeing, everything we as a user centred consultancy practice and preach about user needs is essential.
 

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