Workplace in a post pandemic era – scary?

Its essential employers do everything possible to ensure their workplaces – physical and virtual – are operating at peak wellness and wellbeing especially with the nearing post covid era we are entering – emotions can be in turmoil.

Delivering training on how our behaviours impact those around us (Emotional Intelligence), how to communicate and collaborate effectively, how to build a resilient, productive environment where individuals at all levels learn skills and tools to look after themselves – and those around them – is critical in these constantly changing and uncertain times.

Where to start? We can overthink and procrastinate for ever trying to identify the ‘perfect’ solution but end up not actually doing anything.

Working during Covid has been a unique experience for everyone depending on their own particular situation. Not everyone has worked from a safe home with its own garden, financially secure with a solid network of support.

Coupled with this is everyone’s unique level of resilience. This is a key area for employers to look at as it directly impacts their business, brand reputation and bottom line. How to give some tools to ensure their people know their level of resilience, how to increase it and thereby be more able to deal with the curve balls life throws.

Having delivered many accredited courses and my own bespoke workshops in this critical area over many years, i-act is the most effective, robust commercial product for staff and their businesses on the market in my view. Why?

  • Quick deliver – 4 hours – delivered virtually making it accessible for hybrid workers across the globe
  • Robust, easy to access 168 colour co-ordinated manual, containing over 50 tools for self-care and 95 referral organisations. Digital version also available.
  • Accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and carries 3 CPD points -for delegates
  • Accreditation lasts three years with access to I-act’s website for news, updates and downloads
  • Designed specifically for the workplace
  • Proactive – not reactive. Focus is on early intervention, building resilience
  • How to set and maintain personal protective barriers
  • So much more!

Collaboration and learning together is the best way to grow. Some of the key findings delegates shared on recent courses from diverse industries and levels of seniority include:

“A complex topic nicely categorised by the book and the ‘I-acted’ approach – so ordered, accessible and useable”.

” The self-care and wellbeing advice and activities was a key takeaway for me. It has given me more concrete ideas of where I can improve, particularly as someone who has a diagnosed mental illness.”

“Learning the simple scale tool to start a conversation was my standout. I will definitely use this going forward.”

“From some of the past support I’ve given my team, having the opportunity to understand more about some of the classifications of mental ill health was really helpful.”

“Learning how to ask the suicide question really helped me, It’s a difficult subject”

It seems to me the title ‘First Aider’ gives the impression delegates are ‘qualified’ to deliver first line intervention. This isn’t always the case. The emotional intelligence to speak to others at the time of emotional vulnerability whilst looking after yourself is critical and not something everyone can do naturally.

Yet, many employers don’t assess their employees before putting them on these kind of courses. Are they in the right headspace to do this kind of course? Do they have the communication skills to support someone else? Do they have the insight to know when to get involved and when they need to pass it on to protect themselves? Do they make their self-care a priority? It seems to be more a ‘tick in the box’ exercise. How much damage could that potentially do to both parties – not to mention brand reputation of the business?

I’m often asked what I would do if I wanted to make sure my staff and workplace thrived – not just survived. I would use a journey of steps – ensuring collaboration with staff at every step:

Step one – discover what the emotional temperature of my workplace and people is? To know and not just assume where the pressure points are I would run an Emotional Culture Survey. A quick survey which takes just a few minutes to complete online and examines 10 key areas of pressures across all departments and levels of staff giving results in minutes.

Step two – workshop to understand the impact our behaviours have on those around us which we may be completely unaware of but this impact can last years. Not an issue if that impact is positive – but what if it isn’t?

Step three – run the developmental, global Genos Emotional Intelligence assessments across all levels of staff for them to see any gaps between the level of importance of six core competencies and the level of demonstration raters see followed by coaching sessions to enable them to see insights, actions and benefits leading to stronger 360 connections and increased personal development.

A global programme delivering specialist workplace and leadership critical tools.

Step four – deliver I-act – Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing – for line managers and Understanding and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing for non-managers. Both deliver the key tools noted above.

Step five – run continuous workshops, discussions, fun events during which work is not discussed. Instead focussing on empowering staff to break the stigma and fear our emotions can have by talking without fear about emotions. In addition have fun getting to know each other as humans working together who have lives outside of work not just colleagues doing a job.

Now, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Government has announced the end of restrictions in England next week.

Is now the time to start preparing your teams and workplace to thrive?

Let’s talk self-awareness….

As a certified #genosinternational Practitioner, I’m inspired by the positive impact their products have on individuals, leaders and businesses.

Their #emotionalintelligence assessments reveal gaps in level of importance compared to demonstrated experience in six critical core competencies enabling insights, actions and benefits to be considered. A strong development tool for individuals, teams and the business.

We judge ourselves on our intentions when doing or saying something. But here’s the thing, those receiving that message don’t know our intentions so they judge us on how we make them feel.

‘People forget what you said. They’ll forget what you did. But they’ll never forget how you made them feel’ – Maya Angelou

What impact do you have on those around you? Do you know or making an assumption?

The #genosinternational film below gives some top tips on what you can do to increase your self-awareness. Thanks to the amazing Aoife and Holly #genosinternational for putting this short film together.

Why not take a look?

#emotionalintelligence is critical in business – not a ‘nice to have’.

Diamonds….. interested?

When they are dug up, diamonds look like insignificant dusty pieces of glass. Without the trained eye to see what amazing gems these can be polished into, their value can be missed. We aren’t just talking surface beauty here in the jewellery market but their unique strength in other industries including:

Mining – diamonds are used in deep surface drilling due to their toughness and heat resistence

Dentistry – diamond tipped tools are used by dentists for their endurance

High end speakers – diamond domes never wear out meaning the sound never deteriorates

Super computers – diamond’s heat resistance make them invaluable in this field where heat can be a problem

Construction – diamond embedded saws cut-up roadways more easily – harder to break and aren’t affected by friction heat

The same can be said when recruiting new talent. Unpolished gems are missed everyday because employers see the surface label not the gem underneath – a little like that dug-up diamond.

On Growing Talent, the polish is delivered in a unique bootcamp intensive week of orientation delivering life and workplace skills. Delivered during this week is the global I-act course – Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and designed for the workplace. Embracing critical awareness of emotional intelligence in all areas of life ensures by the time your selected ‘rough diamond’ arrives on your site, you have something unique and magical – your own diamond to polish.

We are launching a new campaign in January 2022. If you are looking for new talent with drive, commitment and the ‘edge’ why not try us out?

For more information check out http://www.growing-talent.co.uk

Zero cost. Zero risk.

Control what you can – ignore what you can’t!

What a roller coaster the past couple of years have been.

It seemed we’d turned a corner with the Government lifting restrictions, more and more people leaving their hybrid workplace and returning to their offices – even booking holidays, events and Christmas family gatherings! Life getting ‘back to normal’?

Then, earlier this week came the news of yet another variant. Omnicron had arrived!  A vortex of fear, dread, overthinking fell on some intensified by the re-introduction of some restrictions by the UK Government.

Scientists in South Africa alerted the world to this new variant. We know by the time a new variant has been announced, it’s already out there in the world’s population. They couldn’t control the reaction of countries closing their borders. Had they known, would they have shared their discovery?

Borders are starting to close.  Restrictions are being re-introduced.  It can feel like news channels are on repeat cycles of doom without any context or balance.  There is no evidence of which way this new variant will go. The UK Government’s consistent guidance of ‘we have to live with this’, seems to have now been reversed.

It’s no wonder anxiety, fear and overthinking is rising in many of us.  So, what can we do? 

Control what we can – ignore what we can’t.

Accept some things we cannot control.  Governments and scientists will make their decisions. But, here’s the thing.  When we accept these things are out of our control, we can stop focussing on them and look at what we can control.  The fear, anxiety and negative thinking starts to dissipate.  We start to grow stronger and move forward.

Change your thoughts – start by questioning them.  What evidence do you have to think that way? Often, we think negatively because our minds are designed to keep us safe and so they over amplify negative thoughts. Merely by questioning our negative thoughts, their power starts to dwindle.

Control – what areas of your life can you focus on, control and inject positivity into? Building in some self-care windows to everyday routines, learning new skills these are some of the building blocks to growing self-esteem, empowerment and resilience. Doing something for somewhere else makes us feel better and them. Start with a simple smile. Watch – it’s infectious!

For employers, what additional things can be considered? 

Emotional Intelligence behavioural assessments – our emotions impact our thoughts.  Our thoughts impact our behaviours.  Our behaviours impact our actions which impact everything and everyone around us.  Thing is how we see our behaviours can be very different to how those around us experience them.

i-act’s Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing delivers all the tools to proactively build a resilient workplace. The 50+ tools taught in i-act are life-long skills that enable us to deal with all life events. Accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, designed specifically for the workplace and global.

Therefore, I’m going to control what I can and ignore what I can’t – how about you?

Do we have the will to examine and question our behaviours and their impact on others?

Thanks to Netflix, I watched this brilliant film over the weekend. I was struck by many things. Yes, it had all the emotions – happy, sad, courage, loyalty, generational parallel lives, hope, adversity, ignorance, acceptance, bullying and likely many more. Overall, it left a feeling of hope, that’s it’s ok to be your authentic self and life can be fun if we drop the judgements we give others – without even speaking with them.

I originally wrote this for my LinkedIn in page. Why? because the film is a place of work comprising actors, camera crew, runners etc as is the school central to the film’s theme. Without the Emotional Intelligence to accept all work colleagues – direct reports, peers, line management, clients, supply chain etc in all sectors, as well as recognise and understand how our emotions, thoughts and behaviours impact others, businesses and their people will never thrive.

As the credits to the film rolled, we see the ‘real’ Jamie Campbell and his mum Margaret from County Durham who the film was based on. A three part documentary in 2011 featuring Jamie and his mum’s fight for him to be allowed to wear a dress to his secondary school prom.

For me, the most poignant feeling I got from the film was how little has changed. Ten years since the documentary on Jamie’s fight to be authentic yet we don’t seem any further forward. In the film, Jamie’s guide to becoming a drag queen is Hugo played by the brilliant Richard E Grant. Snapshots of Hugo’s life as a drag queen during the explosion of AIDS, had parallels with Jamie’s fight and illuminated the lack of acceptance today.

With training in how our behaviours impact ourselves and those around us, change is possible – but only if we want it.

Final thoughts – the film ended with a real shift in change of attitudes by many. I wonder how much more businesses would grow if they looked at the behaviours and impact of all within…..

“Thousands of jobs & no one to fill them” – can that really be true?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-57349802  This features a report by KPMG on the situation UK PLC finds itself in: “thousands of job vacancies but no people to fill them” How can that be so?

In other reports from @BBC we know there are 1.7m unemployed and over 4m on furlough who may not have jobs to return to when furlough finally ends.

There seems a huge disconnect.

From the people I’ve spoken to over the past fourteen months I think there’s an elephant in the room we are not addressing.  Fear.  

Fear of stepping outside their door.

Fear of leaving their family.

Fear of stepping onto public transport.

Fear of walking into a new environment.

Fear of getting to learn a new role.

Fear of a new routine

Fear of not being respected by colleagues

Fear of not ‘gelling’ with the team/management

Fear of losing this new job

Fear of failing

There is an expectation employers will address this fear. Those integrating the new ISO45003 guidelines will go a long way to achieving this. Using Growing Talent to gain new talent will see them go even further in achieving the goal of sustainable new talent who have grown into the available role through the methods taught on Growing Talent to flourishing adding real value to everyone.

If you have a real job to fill, why not consider www.growing-talent.co.uk?  It’s completely free and not a Government funded programme. 

The global pandemic has seen businesses change the way they operate to get the results they want. 

Isn’t now the time to change the way you recruit to reveal those hidden gems of talent you’ve potentially been missing?

#psychosocial #risks #business #leadership #talent #socialmobility #inclusion #diversity

What has fairy tales got to do with business?

Everything if we want workplaces, people, profits, brand reputation to flourish.

After reading the Stevenson Farmer 2017 report ‘Thriving at Work”, the ISO45003 new international standard guidelines “Psychological Health & Safety at Work – Guidelines for Managing Psychosocial Risks” and CIPD’s April 2021 member’s survey report it’s clear business has to slay a few dragons to truly thrive.

Let’s look at those three core pieces of work a little more closely. What are the core results of each?

Thriving At Work – 2017

  • 300,000 staff lose their jobs each year through longer term mental health – far higher than those who have lost their role through physical issues.
  • Around 15% of staff have symptoms of mental ill health
  • Over half the cost to employers estimated £33bn-£42bn is due to presenteeism
  • Deloitte’s estimated for every £1 invested in management training for workplace mental health and wellbeing the return is £9.98
  • Only 11% of staff discussed a recent mental ill health issue with their line manager
  • Staff fear disclosing will lead to discrimination. Line managers fear getting involved will make matters worse.
  • Only 11% of the Top 100 companies disclose their initiatives for wellbeing and mental health in their annual reports.

ISO45003 – guidance notes available now. Certification available later in 2021

  • Understand and identify what is a psychosocial risk/hazard, then mitigate it – ISO 3.1
  • Understand legal requirements – ISO 4.1.1
  • Ensure appointed staff to be first aiders and listening ears for mental health and wellbeing are not only trained but competent too – ISO 8.2(B)
  • Address staff working location – isolation, IT issues – home working responsibility – ISO 4.1.3
  • Management of change – ISO 8.1.3
  • Return to work – psychosocial risk assessment – ISO8.3
  • Emergency response -(examples – terror acts, dismissal, suicide) ISO 8.2
  • Ensure staff can identify signs in themselves of psychosocial risks – ISO 8.1.25

CIPD April 2021 Report – member survey

  • Financial wellbeing is still lacking. Only 19% of companies have financial wellbeing information in place
  • Employers’ are the key financial provider to their employees and should have a menu of information/training to reflect the make-up of their staff to reflect key requirements.
  • Just over 77% of respondents believe their company is actively promoting positive mental health and wellbeing BUT less than half of these felt it was effective.
  • Many employees don’t feel their managers are comfortable supporting someone experiencing a mental health issue.
  • Stress remains the biggest issue for staff. 71% of staff said they had taken sick days due to workplace stress. This percentage rose to 91% for companies over 250 staff.
  • COVID has been the. biggest cause of workplace stress
  • In November 2020 Mind said more people had experienced a mental health crisis than ever previously recorded pre-Covid.
  • Overwhelming majority of respondents have observed presenteeism – 75% in the workplace and 77% whilst working at home over the past 12 months.
  • Seven in 10 people have observed leaveism – working outside contracted hours, during annual leave.

Conclusion

Clearly there are many adults from all backgrounds experiencing their own ‘dragons’. The snapshots of the above three documents show employers’ role in slaying those dragons are clear.

Having worked in the field of training in positive mental health, wellbeing, resilience building, finance building blocks for a great many years, I’ve seen a shift from some employers keen to address some of this and roll out training. 

But is it the right training? For well over the 10 years I was involved in MHFAEngland whose mission is to ‘train 1:10 of the population’ in their reactive first aider programme. 

But what if the wrong people are being trained? 

If staff do not feel their line manager is comfortable speaking about mental ill health issues, they won’t disclose even when they know that manager has been trained. First Aider programmes inform on what to do when something has happened. They don’t inform how to build resilience, improve wellbeing, mitigate psychosocial risks. I-act does. Check out what is covered in i-act’s courses and make sure you are buying something as robust when looking at mental health and wellbeing training in your workplace:

1.     Bespoke courses for both those managing teams and those not 

2.     Accredited by Royal College of Psychiatrists and carries CPD points

3.     Proactive – teaches resilience building not just reactive when there is an issue

4.     Those receiving the training improve the quality of their own lives, those around them and makes the workplace inclusive and resilient

5.     Evidence based, systematically reviewed every three years

6.     Both courses have an accompanying 168 page evidenced-based training manual, toolkit and resource pack 

7.     Participants gain access to i-act’s website to download resources

8.     Virtual delivery – saves time, money and anxiety for staff who find travelling difficult

9.     Has over 50 practical step-by-step tools and over 95 organisations to refer to

10.  Can be delivered nationally and internationally – ideal for global organisations wanting uniform training

11.  Whilst it teaches how to support someone in distress, it uniquely focuses on improving wellbeing and building resilience to reduce the risk of becoming unwell – hence the name i-act rather than re-act.

12.  Has unique evaluation and development tools for those team members supporting other team members so collectively the pillars give the acronym of i-acted:

I – Improve wellbeing

A – Advocate help and signpost

C – Connect with people

T – Take tools and advice

E – Evaluate and monitor

D – Develop further

If you are interested in learning more to grow the resilience of your business and teams, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Are employers solidifying employees’ fears?

The BBC News online featured a piece from the PCS (Public & Commercial Services) union today whose research suggest the majority of JobCentre Plus staff fear returning to their offices. Out of 1,299 members the PCS surveyed, their results shared showed 3 in 5 workers want to continue working at home and are fearful of returning to the workplace due to Covid.

PCS claim they should be allowed to continue to work from home as they’ve proved this is effective during Covid restrictions. Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of PCS union warned industrial action could follow.

The fear of returning to the workplace after so long working from home or on furlough during Covid will be many employees’ fears and this is something their employers need to address BEFORE they are asked to return.

There is so much fake news on social media and possibly amongst friends, families and community leaders. Add in the continuous illogical updates from Government, it becomes completely understandable the fear that can be brewing. Trouble is, this fear and be intrusive and longterm.

We all know facing our fears are the only way to conquer them. If we give in to this, anxiety, isolation, debilitation will grow and possibly cripple individuals, business and communities.

As individuals we have to find evidence from experts we trust to enable us to make decisions and resist listening to opinions/views of non-experts.

JobCentre Plus staff do a difficult job supporting the most vulnerable in our communities. If they go on strike, what happens to those in dire circumstances?

If Employers don’t support their employees to overcome their fears and gain confidence to living their lives to the full again – what happens to those employees? Remember not every person has gone through the pandemic living in a nice, safe home, in happy, nurturing relationships. For the majority, it’s been one of the hardest, loneliest periods of their lives.

Business is a core part of our lives and communities. If businesses aren’t flourishing, growing and employing people, taxes aren’t being paid to support the vulnerable, provide healthcare, education etc. Where will the money for these come from?

For many businesses, continued working from home for their employees won’t be tenable. If work can be done from home, might some employers start to ask why can’t it be outsourced overseas to a cheaper workforce?

Giving in to fear is not an option. As actor Will Smith said some time ago –

“Success lies on the other side of fear”

What say you?

When the noise gets too much

Many employers have recognised the need to ensure mental wellbeing and resilience in their teams. Some have done a colossal amount of workshops on various aspects of these key areas of human function.

However, too much can be as bad as not enough! It can end up being ‘white noise’. At this stage, nothing penetrates the conscious of some individuals who may have switched off – and likely rolled their eyes.

A menu of options is the best way of ensuring optimum, flourishing staff. Giving an insight into each workshop/course, content and benefit enables the team to decide what is right for them rather than having to do everything.

After discussions with a client this week, we’ve devised a Zoom ‘Open Mic’ programme of events. Non-management teams from different parts of the business will be offered weekly sessions during working hours where they can talk about anything they want. They can just listen and not contribute. Or they can choose not to dial in. Or they can enthusiastically contribute topics they want discussed. Thing is, they know this is their space where they can talk openly, safely and without judgement about anything that’s on their minds. They may not get the answers they seek but they will get the space and time to think which will give them clarity and energy to deal with what’s on their minds themselves.

I’m excited to be involved in something as innovative as this for this employer. In my work, I’ve seen the power of giving a platform to someone they can talk openly and in confidence they won’t be judged. They always seem to gain a calmness which enables them to see the solution that is right for them.

If our children are growing up hungry – where are businesses getting their future talent from?

Listening to the radio this morning, the above question jumped into my head. I have my solution at the end of this post. What would be your thoughts?

Time for us all to have an uncomfortable conversation maybe?

The radio feature was on free school meals and the excellent spotlight the footballer Marcus Rashford has shone on this.

Children going hungry is shamefully not a new problem for the UK. Following the end of WWII, free school meals were introduced to ensure no child went hungry. Bearing in mind this was a time when food additives, were a lot less intensive than they are now. Basic, nutritional food that ensured healthy growth for all children in the UK was the norm.

Over the following years, we seemed to lose this ‘collective’ thinking that we are all responsible for the health of the next generation.

I well remember the endeavours of chef Jamie Oliver from 2004 to address putting ‘nutrition’ back into school dinners cost effectively. This would ensure concentration in lessons resulting ultimately in social mobility. Education on an empty stomach is totally non-productive and a complete waste of money. Children can’t concentrate with their stomachs rumbling. As adults, we know when we’re hungry we can think of nothing else. Why would we think it’s different for children?

The radio feature this morning spoke about Jamie’s work and the fact two of his chefs are working in Schools in Greenwich to help feed children nutritionally during school holidays.

Marcus has re-foccused the spotlight back on the need to feed vulnerable children during school holidays as parents struggle through coronavirus.

Many parents will feed their children fast foods because they are cheap. Quantity is better than quality thinking. We know fresh food doesn’t have to be expensive. It does take effort to buy and prepare especially when trying to hold down a number of poorly paid jobs to provide a secure home.

A few of ideas spring to my mind:

  1. Tax cheap, fast food so it becomes a ‘treat’ and heavily discount fresh foods so they become the norm.
  2. I know from experience many families won’t apply for help even when they are entitled. Pride gets in the way. Radical thought here – provide free school meals for every child so not one child is ‘singled’ out as being ‘poor’. From 5-18. Schools become community hubs. Open through school holidays. This would create:

a. Employment throughout the UK

b. Community cohesion

c. Brain power amongst all our children to take advantage of education, realise their dreams, become the innovators of tomorrow, feeding our businesses making the UK a vibrant country of integrity for all.

Of course there would be a huge cost for this. But, what is the cost of not doing it?

As a business owner, I’d be in favour of increased taxes if they were going to this worthwhile cause. I wonder if very wealthy people, would be willing to make annual donations to this cause and write this off against their taxes? Some people earn telephone number salaries and are reluctant to pay HMRC. No one likes paying taxes. But if part of their taxes went to a specific cause like this, would their attitude change if they could see the good they are doing?

A minority of the UK are living in a bubble where they have so much money they will never be able to spend it. Maybe social taxation could be the answer.

Maybe it’s time to do something radical and something different.

What would be your thoughts?