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?

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?

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.

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…..

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?

L’enterprise des Possibles

Watching French24 tv, I was heartened by the amazing work French billionaire Alain Merieux has achieved. He set-up L’enterprise des Possibles or Company of Possibilities just two years ago.

In the interview he explained why he chose to set-up this initiative up at the age of 80. Looking back to his childhood – which many of us seem to do as we get older, he noticed there was no homeless when he was a child. People shared what they had and took care of each other. Over recent years, he noticed that caring and sharing has been lost and homelessness is everywhere. The same could be said of countries around the world.

Alain’s idea was to join businesses with homeless charities. Companies and their employees could donate their time, annual leave or volunteer for the charities to make a real long-term difference.

Over the two years L’enterprise des Possibles has been operating, 60 companies have signed up raising over €1.1m and housing 550 people in Leon alone. One of these was a Congalese asylum seeker and her two young children who had been sleeping in fear wherever they could find space in the three years they had been in France. Now she proudly showed the news team around her chalet provided by L’enterprise des Possibles and spoke of her feeling of safety now. One of seven chalets she and her children now had a real support network in which to flourish and rebuild their lives.

The calmness on her face and positivity for the future was inspiring. The woman and her family had literally nothing. Now they have peace, security and a future – how rich is that?

Just as inspiring is Alain. Most 80+ people would be looking inwards, not what they could do for others. In the week that Captain Sir Tom Moore sadly died we are reminded of the amazing difference someone can do, no matter their age or ability, to make a difference and inspire others on what is truly the richness of life.

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?

Will it work?

Today sees the official launch of the Government’s Kick Start programme aimed at  unemployed 18-24 year olds.  The idea, as reported in the press this morning, is Government will pay employers £1,500 per head towards a 25 per week, six month work experience placement.  The Government’s idea is many will be kept on or step into permanent jobs elsewhere.  Referrals will be made by JobCentre Plus staff.  One of the first employers to sign-up is Tesco who want 1,000 people.

Check out http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53985144

 

Alarm bells are ringing for me.  I wonder if this has been thought through properly.  We have evidence from various previous work programmes including the recent Future Jobs Fund which doesn’t seem to have been learned from going by the press reports today.

 

My concerns are:

 

  1.     Will there be vetting of employers to ensure integrity that these unemployed young people won’t be scarred further by being used for six months in basic roles with nothing at the end?
  2.     Is a robust audit trail in place so all parties are accountable and progress/gaps in training are addressable?
  3.     What ‘work experience’ elements will be focussed on to ensure attractiveness to employers who do have jobs but don’t want to have to ‘re-train’ bad habits?
  4.     How can employers in good consciousness take part if they have furloughed/made their own staff redundant?
  5.     JobCentre Plus staff are on a huge recruitment drive themselves with thousands being recruited into Work Coach positions.  How will KickStart be managed to ensure any concerns raised are investigated quickly?

 

At Growing Talent, we know it’s successful even where there are multiple barriers to employment in place for unemployed individuals because:

 

  1.     There is a dedicated mentor for individuals, employers and sole contact with JobCentre Plus leads to monitor progress and address issues immediately
  2.     There is a robust audit trail to highlight progress/training gaps
  3.     It’s five weeks long including a week orientation and holistic whole person skills
  4.     There are robust employer and participant agreements in place
  5.     There is a permanent job ring-fenced for the individual at the start of the journey which is theirs on completion

 

I would personally be more reassured if this KickStart programme was targeting future industries – Artificial Intelligence, Coding, green energies or industries that usually look at degree education/experience such as financial services.  To ask someone to work for six months with no guaranteed job on completion with employers like Tesco fills me with concern.  What about you?