Have organisations evolved during and post Covid?

That is the question I’m asking myself after watching a discussion featuring global financial businesses, academics, medium sized businesses and emotional intelligence global leaders all discussing their experiences.

Read on and consider whether or not your business has truly evolved. I’d love to know your thoughts….

One global financial services company spoke about how they pivoted quickly to move their business to home working as the pandemic hit.  There was no ‘pandemic game plan’ to follow.  They ensured their staff had the equipment they needed to do their jobs from home but looking back, they felt they could have done more to ensure the feeling of  wellbeing and connection.

All the other representatives agreed – their organisations did the same. Logistically it was relatively easy to send equipment to staff homes.  They also shared and agreed the following:

Virtual working amplified good AND poor leaders.  They noticed good leaders, leaned into what different support their teams needed individually.  They gave ownership and support to their teams to enable them to take responsibility to get their jobs done without micro management.  Cohesion and trust thrived leading to strong, innovative positivity. However, bad leaders continued to operate exactly the same as they did pre-pandemic leading to isolation, pressure, fear, anxiety, distrust and disconnection within poor leaders’ teams.

I wonder, will any behaviour impact training be offered to those ‘poor‘ leaders to see the shadows they currently cast and give them the tools to change that shadow ?

The pandemic brought an air of ‘rip the band aid off’ and just do it.  Implementing ways to build a psychosocial safe environment remotely where teams felt valued and safe sharing ideas lead to strong trust and cohesion where everyone thrived.  Ideas were tried and tweaked by collaboration with all parties.

With Covid restrictions lifted, the panel shared what their businesses had learned from their teams to evolve effectively in this new era:

  • Place of work should be decided at a local team level based on whether work requires concentration, collaboration or connection not set globally and will be fluid.
  • Collaborating with all staff on what they need to do their jobs and exploration together on how this would fit with the business is critical.
  • Collective onboarding of new joiners enabled a community of support to be built delivering a feeling of belonging, connection and feeling valued.
  • Leaders need to think about the shadow they cast on their team by their behaviours.
  • Work needs to be judged on contribution not on how ‘busy’ someone is.
  • See staff as individuals not a ‘resource’ nor ‘asset’

A member of the academic panel shared their thoughts on The Great Reflection:

  • What do businesses want to retain on the other side? Connections with family?, trust staff to work where they want to by judging them on their contributions not hours in the office?
  • If businesses are going to revert to pre-pandemic modus operandi – why? 
  • It’s clear hiring has increased, but so has burnout.  Organisations must have measures in place to prevent burnout not manage it once it’s happened.
  • Many staff will reflect on where they are, where they want to be – will they remain where they don’t feel connected and valued?

As the discussion concluded, I found myself reflecting on what has really changed?  What lessons will really be learned? How many will revert to old ways ‘just because that’s how they’ve always done it’?

Time will tell…..

ISO45003, the international guidelines on psychosafety in the workplace, was released in the Summer of 2021 – mid-pandemic when workplaces had many diverse guises.  

Is the time now right for all organisations to ensure the positive wellbeing of their people regardless of where their workplace is? 

Not a ‘tick box’ mental health first aider course but a combination of options to give a selection of tools to ensure all leaders and teams thrive maybe comprising some/all of the following:

  • Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing – proactive – teaching over 50 self-care tools.
  • How does your behaviours impact those around you – analysis and development?
  • Making better connections through self-awareness
  • Building self-empowerment for you and your teams
  • 360 degree risk assessment
  • Finding your why

So, has your company evolved? What new learning will be retained and implemented into operational DNA?

One thing is very clear to me.  Regardless of what organisations do, we all have the ability to control our own wellbeing to build our resilience to enable us to be top of our game.

Will you make your personal wellbeing non-negotiable?

Shining a light on our new Growing Talent Associates….

Last week was the 28th Orientation and Holistic element of Growing Talent! We covered a lot including:

  • Communication
  • Emotional intelligence and behavioural impact
  • Conflict styles and management
  • The power of body language
  • Nutrition on a budget – the perils to avoid
  • Wellbeing windows and non-negotiables
  • Basic finance tips and tricks
  • Workplace ettiquette
  • Case studies – what would you do in these real situations?
  • Facing fear and overcoming procrastination to move forward
  • Fake it until you become it
  • Automatic habits
  • Challenging thoughts
  • Schedule in self-care

Working from etc venues in Fenchurch Place, London Monday – Thursday last week, we enjoyed an energising breakfast, mid-morning break, full on lunch with hot and cold options, desserts and cheeses. Smoothies, vegetable shots and tea, coffee (in many different compilations) as well as water!

On Thursday Paul, Ella and Suaad’s prospective employer was able to join us for a networking lunch along with Anna and Mick from DWP. Ella, Florence and Suaad shared some of their experiences over the week and questioned Paul, Anna and Mick on how they had dealt with a range of things from Covid to conflict both at work and in their personal lives. I sat and listened with pride at how their confidence had grown over that few days. Our guests were very generous in sharing past and present experiences. Mick’s previous life in the Met Police gave a lot of insight that maybe we don’t always think about. It was a powerful reminder that everyone has a back story we usually know nothing about.

After the ‘grilling’, We had a sumptuous lunch together before departing for the week.

The feature photo above shows Ella, Suaad and Florence completing their @I-act Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing ready to use some of the tools and learning to empower their resilience in the workplace as well as support those around them where they feel safe to do so.

So what did Ella, Florence and Suaad think of they journey so far?

“I enjoyed all of the workshops and found them very informative- I didn’t necessarily have the most open mind (I generally don’t about lots of ‘work training’ things) in advance of attending but Jane’s attitude and openness made me want to attend. What I enjoyed the most (besides the food which was phenomenal) was being able to openly share my background, hopes and fears, experiences with others in such a safe and encouraging environment. So much about looking for work requires us to be constantly positive in attempts to oversell ourselves. What Jane does so well, and what I enjoyed the most, was being able to be a whole person- with room for improvement but a clear pathway to that improvement. It was such a boost to my self-esteem and made me feel that there were practical steps to moving forward that didn’t involve berating myself for not having achieved them yet.”

“I found the ‘five second rule’ very practical- I could definitely recognise that in myself and the way my brain talks me out of doing things I am worried about. I also found the discussions around confrontation and interpersonal workplace relationships (and outside) really helpful. Also the continual emphasis on maintaining good channels of communication is definitely something I am trying to keep permanently in mind until it becomes second nature.”

“Personal well-being and learning how to structure your work day to make sure your mood is optimal and you’re making the most of your day. If you take a proactive stance and not react to what life throws at you, you can be in control and change the quality of your day to day experiences.”

“Jane has been wonderful over the week. The way the programme was delivered over the week shows this is something Jane deeply cares about and enabling participants with the right information and boost of confidence/morale is just as important as securing a job. After facing unemployment you have to mentally prepare yourself before starting a job, you may feel out of the loop or in a low mood. By completing a holistic short course beforehand, it allows you to evaluate how you are doing on a scale and gives you insight to what to work on going forward.”

“The I-Act course is a great source to keep around and use as a reference, it provides a great summary of different types of mental health issues and illnesses. Once again, it is a tool you can use to see how you’re doing on scale and can be used to advocate for yourself and others. Courses such as this are needed to destigmatize the issue of mental health, a simple heartfelt conversation may change the trajectory of someone’s health and even their life.”

“I am very grateful and happy to be given this opportunity, it is a unique and lovely programme that would not be possible if curated by someone who didn’t understand how to genuinely help people (to help themselves!). It’s clear this is a labour of love and it really shows in the quality of the programme and the impact it has on me over just one week. Bravo, thank you!”

“Jane made us feel very comfortable and secure enough to share our personal stories as to what led us to Growing Talent.  I also enjoyed the company of the other people on the journey with me. There was nothing that I didn’t enjoy.  I looked forward to each day!”

“The whole concept of having a “Holistic Employment Programme” is such a great idea and perfect in my situation.  It provides a level playing field for everyone.  Thank you!”

If you are unemployed, live in London and interested in a different route to employment – check us out and or speak with your work coach at JobCentre Plus.

If you are an employer with permanent jobs in London which you are willing to train in, why not consider Growing Talent? Like Ella, Florence and Suaad you will have empowered, resilient, enthused, empathetic new talent before you formerly hire them with qualities you wouldn’t usually see in traditional recruitment – and it’s free. Get in touch to discuss.

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?

Money – is yours working for you?

No matter how rich/poor someone is, they need to have their finger on their financial pulse.

This is critical for those with limited financial resources. Knowing where money is spent, where efficiencies can be made, how to grow it, who to help when things go wrong is vital.

But where is this subject taught? Rarely in the home and rarely in education. As employers are usually the main source of income, do they have a responsibility to teach the basics of money management?

It’s well researched and proven that financial worries impact wellbeing and positive mental health.

In the UK, many are unaware that the majority of people on benefits (Universal Credit) are actually working full-time!

So, whilst basic financial planning needs to be taught, I wonder if there also needs to be an examination of pay verses profits in our culture. Many working in national and global brands are on a minimum wage. Yet the shareholders of those company reap robust dividends. We accept ‘celebrities’ earn millions from reality tv yet nurses, auxiliary staff in the NHS, delivery drivers of essential services etc – earn far less. We saw how vital these services were during Covid.

The only way people on limited financial resources can move forward is with the tools to do so.

Basic finances is something we teach on Growing Talent so everyone going into work can manage their money and grow it.

Time for us all to be more savvy with our money every day – don’t you agree?

HMOs – coming to a house near you?

HMOs = House of Multiple Occupancy are springing up more and more. They are becoming a lucrative way for property developers to increase revenue opportunities.

Instead of renting out one house to one family, one house can be rented out to five or less people without the need for a licence. None have to be related and each can have their own car – which impacts on local parking. This is more of a serious impact where parking restrictions already exist – one way system, narrow bending road etc. 

Previous residential houses can be changed into a HMO under building regulations with little consideration of the impact on existing residents, local services etc. Planning permission is not required. Nor is neighbourhood consultation. The stress and anxiety for all parties can be intense – including those moving into HMOs.

Covid has seen many businesses go from the High Streets nationally. Big chains and small independents have gone out of business leaving behind an empty shell. Retail will likely never return to normal. So, why not build on the infrastructure left behind and use these empty plots for housing?

These empty plots have the infrastructure for housing – water, sewage, power, external windows. We have the technology to ensure people thrive long-term on submarines, in space, surely we can marry the two to increase housing stock for quality homes for those in need and at the same time revitalise our High Streets nationally?

The best ideas are born from thinking outside the norm. One core thing Covid has taught us all is to think outside the norm. 

Let’s do so now and find a way for some of the most vulnerable in our communities to thrive rather than just survive. Simultaneously, our High Streets will jump back to life and thrive too.

Boots – who knew her name?

Not those boots! – the other household name we’ve all grown-up with – Boots the chemist.

The Sunday supplements of a leading broadsheet newspaper had an inspiring piece on a woman who made a serious difference in setting Boots on a path of social inclusion breaking previous commercial barriers.

Florence Boots, married to Jesse, son of founder John Boots, had a steely determination and a unique ability to see social justice, doing the right thing and business were not separate entities but essential elements in disrupting the norm to deliver better results for all – an alien idea for 1879!

In 1897, Florence drove beauty at Boots – unheard of at the time. An anecdote from archivist Sophie Clapp told how Jesse and Florence argued over whether beauty or healthcare should have the biggest space. Story goes that Jesse won but Florence installed a huge mirror so anyone at the healthcare counter saw the beauty display!

Thinking outside the box like this is typical business practice today.

Florence’s ideas for improvements to both business and community continued. In 1898, Florence introduced a subscription service – Booklovers’ Library to make books more accessible. She went on to install cafes in the Boots stores – remember there were no Starbucks or Costas then – to give a safe meeting space.

This socially conscious thinking extended to staff as well as customers. Free hot chocolate was provided each morning as Florence recognised many staff couldn’t afford breakfast before coming to work and provided them with a hot meal at lunchtime. A school and gym was built for staff and Boots was one of the first to introduce the five day working week.

Now we have Instagram and Twitter etc to show inspirational quotes. Back then, Florence wrote inspirational poems directly to staff.

All of this social justice for staff and the community grew the brand to such an extent, Florence was made a Board Director in 1917 – a rarity at the time. Growing the brand still further, Florence and Jesse sold-up and retired in 1921 but the brand still carries their name today if not all the initiatives in the same form Florence instigated.

One of her lasting legacies is student halls at Nottingham University which she personally funded at the time for women to get access to higher education during an era when it was much more difficult than today. The Halls still stand and are known as FloBo House.

https://www.studentcrowd.com/hall-l1004971-s1044556-florence-boot-hall-university_of_nottingham_the-nottingham

In the enduring negativity of Covid-19, this piece of journalism inspired hope in me for the future. I believe humans with drive, determination and a sense of social justice will overcome any barrier. We can learn a lot from Florence and other past trailblazers.

Are we going to sit around moaning about ‘our lot’? Or are we going to do something about it?

Florence’s image above curtesy of You Sunday supplement. Who knew her name? Now you do.

Are our rights more important than our duty to others?

This is a thought that’s been resonating with me with growing repetition during the journey of the global pandemic here in the UK.

It seems to me humankind has become more and more inward rather than outward looking over the years.

As the restrictions enforced by the pandemic have continued, the more amplified our disregard for our duty to others seems to have grown.

By that I mean consideration of the potential consequences our actions can have on others.

Each week, local small patches of council green areas outside residential houses are scattered with litter comprising fast food wrappers but lately discarded alcohol bottles. I haven’t seen people having picnics on these areas so assume it’s household fly tipping by residents, or people returning from fun in the park with their friends.

Why? Each household in the UK has rubbish collection weekly. There is no need to spoil the environment for others through laziness and/or entitlement. If there is no public rubbish bin locally, or if there is one, it’s full – why can’t people take their rubbish home and put it in for their rubbish collection?

I don’t doubt this is happening in every part of the UK.

Clearly the thought of the right to personal enjoyment of the individuals dropping these items far outweighs any thought of their impact on others. Children play on these small greens. Pet dogs are taken for walks by their owners. Residents look at these green spaces from their windows – vital when housebound or shielding. Where is the thought for the impact on others – the anxiety and isolation caused by thoughtless, ‘my right’ attitudes?

We see this time and again on a larger scale when the sun is shining in the debris left behind in parks and at coastal spots. There is a huge cost in clearly this up.

We know the dangers to the environment of discarded rubbish which has been proven to get into our water tables and food chains. By discarding rubbish thoughtlessly instead of taking it home, those individuals are potentially affecting their health and that of the ones they love. Ironic isn’t it?

Isn’t now the time to start to think of our duty to consider the impact of our behaviours on others?

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?

Passion Map – Do You Have One?

The global pandemic and yo yo-ing UK restrictions over the past year + has enabled a period of reflection for us all.

“Where are we?” “Are we happy and fulfilled?” “Is something missing?” “Am I on the wrong road?” “Are my relationships healthy or toxic?”

Just some of the questions we may have considered over this time.

Catching glimpses of the highlights of HRH Prince Philip’s funeral over the weekend and seeing some of the unique things he had planned – such as symbols of his love of carriage racing and land/range rovers – got me thinking about how much planning we put into living our best lives.

How many of us run on automatic pilot? Doing everything as habit almost on automatic pilot just means we are existing not living.

Having a Passion Map enables us to really examine all areas of our life and ask ourselves those difficult questions. Especially “am I where I want to be?” or “am I on the path to get where I want to be?”

Slowly, we are seeing the seeds of change – restrictions are gradually lifting. Is now the time to devise our own Passion Map?

Life is too precious to return to automatic living.

What do you think?

A step too far?

Some years back, I was introduced to Adam who had just started working with Jamie at a national recruitment company.

Sharply dressed, seemingly able to talk to anyone at any level confidently and make up really good raps for audiences ‘off the cuff’. A real ‘presence’ in the room, Adam was late teens when I met him not sure of the path he would ultimately take.

Several different jobs over the years followed before Lockdown hit. At Christmas 2020, after almost a year of uncertainty the global pandemic has brought us all to trying degrees, Adam took the massive, in my view, step of getting on a plane and going to Tanzania. Without a job/home to go to there, Adam wanted a complete change.

He reached out to me to discuss his next moves and explore his thoughts – I was honoured.

I was shocked by the reality of Dar es Salaam from the photos Adam sent me which were the polar opposite of my perceptions of what this African City would be like.

Curtesy of Adam, I share a photo of his new home City:

According to Adam the pace of life is much slower compared to London and has given him time to think what he really wants to do.

Taking the time to ask ourselves ‘are we happy?’ and ‘does it feel right’ enable us to take the pulse of where we are and helps answer those questions of whether to keep going down a certain path or change.

Adam’s had the time and space to figure out his next move by relocating to Tanzania – even if to some of us it feels like a step too far.

Of course, it may not be practical to relocate to the other side of the world to find what we want to do. We don’t have to. Giving ourselves some space alone to think about our own happiness and whether what we are doing ‘feels right’ will give us the same ignition for our own next steps.