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’.

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…..

Roller Coasters come in all shapes….

19 July saw the start of the first Growing Talent hybrid for ten fantastically talented, currently unemployed people keen to work.

Selected by one of the ‘Big 4’ organisations for permanent roles in their growing virtual business support teams, they commenced step one – the orientation and holistic week – virtual of course!

So what did we cover over this week?

Mondaycommunication – a vital area to get right in all areas of our lives – no matter what our social status is nor our seniority in the workplace. But how much time do we put into making sure we get this right? Have you considered the following?

  • Speaking – what is the aim of the conversation? what content will you cover? where and how are you going to hold this conversation? what are the possible outcomes of this conversation? have you considered your tone, clarity, volume and pace?
  • Listening – do you automatically listen without judgement? do you ensure there will be no interruptions nor distractions? Do you listen with empathy or sympathy – do you know the difference?
  • Reflect back – paraphrasing is essential to ensure you have understood what you have heard – get the evidence, don’t just assume.
  • Body Language – did you know non verbal cues make up the biggest part of communication?
  • What method is appropriate for the conversation you are going to have?
  • What types of conflict might you encounter?
  • What’s your conflict style? accommodating, avoidance, collaboration, competitive, compromise
  • You statements – also known as the communication destroyer. Do you know why?

There is more to communication than most think!

Tuesday – invest in yourself. Critical – not selfish. Airline safety talks ‘state put the oxygen mask on you BEFORE helping others’ That makes sense, so why not scheduling in some self care windows throughout the day? This section covered:

  • Stop avoiding fear
  • Mantra and personal values
  • Overcoming negative thoughts
  • Control your brain – stop letting it control you
  • Self care toolkit
  • Dealing with imposter syndrome
  • Nurture your soul

Wednesday – nurturing your body – a car only runs on the right fuel. So does your body. Fuel it mindfully!

  • Food fads – the power of marketing vs facts
  • Superfoods – really
  • Understanding sugar – in all it’s forms
  • Exercise
  • Social media – good, bad and ugly

ThursdayMoney talks! Sharing basic financial tips together. 3 little bottles – waste and recycling, why is it so important. Moving on. Encompassing…..

  • Managing debt
  • How to increase savings
  • Ways to increase income
  • Considering credit cards, debit cards and cash
  • Money mantras
  • How to apply for new roles uniquely

Friday – I-act – Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing

How to look after yourself and those around you. This accredited course delivers a solid understanding of what mental health and wellbeing is, over 50 tools for self care and evaluation, robust evidence reporting – amongst a whole lot more.

So what did the fabulous 10 participants feel about the week? Below are some of the feedback – anonymous in line with GDPR:

“The content was exciting and engaging – which surprised me. I was expecting it to be a bit boring because it’s delivered by Zoom”

“The journey book which accompanied the week was clear and helped me understand the course. I can refer to it ongoing.”

“This week was so worthwhile – it’s taught me how to be more professional”

“I’ve been implementing things I learned in my personal life such as delaying my response in conversations until I understand what’s been said. It’s easy to misunderstand people if you jump in too soon.”

“The contents of the week were fantastic, very informative and engaging with loads of tools to assist me going forward”

The accompanying book was significantly relevant”

“I found everything insightful and enlightening. There were a lot of topics. I especially liked mental health and how to engage with someone who might be struggling. I feel I can now demonstrate a lot more empathy. I also really enjoyed finance considering how much I wasn’t taught much about the topic at school.”

“I’m glad to have the accompanying book as I can go back and refresh my knowledge anytime.

“This is probably the best training course I have every attended. T/he contents cover life inside and outside work”

“The book will be extremely useful going forward. On the course it enabled everyone to read at their own pace.”

What were the thoughts on the trainer?

“I loved how Jane had everyone engaged and included in all of the topic areas. She allowed us to digress within reason, which helped explore the topic further but she was also able to control anything that was not relevant to our learning.”

“Jane’s style was inclusive, warm and welcoming. Everything was clear.”

“Jane is very interactive and gives off a very positive vibe. I really felt like my opinion was relevant when she asked questions and she’s always very impartial so we didn’t feel like we were being judged. It was a pleasure doing my training with her”

“Jane’s compassionate and a very good listener”

“”Jane’s style was nice and precise, she knows what she is talking about and is a confident lady who taught us in a respectful professional manner.”

For me, the week was a mutually positive experienced. When we see each other as humans, we can learn so much together. Essential for work and life – don’t you agree?

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?

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.

Hidden Depths…

Do we ever really know everything about someone? Do we take the time to get to know them – or just accept the surface we see as all there is to them?

I’ve long thought we allow our assumptions about someone’s behaviour, actions, words etc to form perceptions about them without questioning what evidence we have to back this up. That doesn’t sound too fair does it?

Prince Philip is a case in point. How many formed an opinion about this individual without ever speaking to him? Taking what was reported by the press as fact? How would we feel if we were judged the same way?

As humans, we tend to judge others on their actions but ourselves on our intentions.

We make assumptions about others actions without considering what their intentions were. Does this sound fair? To me, it doesn’t. I’d hope people would check their perceptions of my intentions on any action I do was factually correct by asking me. Of course, those in the public eye can’t be approached to ask BUT we can check our thoughts and make sure we have evidence to back these thoughts up. If we don’t, shouldn’t we keep a non-judgemental open mind?

What has surprised me is the lack of coverage during Prince Philip’s lifetime of his achievements away from his ‘job’. Across different media since his death, we have learned a little more.

Amongst the nuggets of information revealed about him, was he painted and wrote 14 books. Trying to find a list of these books, I came across the 1984 publication of ‘Men Machines & Sacred Cows’ – hardback copies on Amazon for over £69 – a leap I suspect to what a copy would have cost prior to the prince’s death. This book is a collection of works focussing on science, technology and design.

The following exert is from Huffington Post’s coverage – and, for me, captures an insight to the character of Prince Philip especially his dry humour – in his own words from Men Machines & Sacred Cows…..

“Some optimists tend to assume that once you have learned the lesson that horses bite at one end and kick at the other, there is nothing further to worry about. No such luck, I’m afraid. 

“The horse is a great leveller and anyone who is concerned about his dignity would be well advised to keep away from horses.

“Apart from many other embarrassments there is, for instance, no more ridiculous sight than a horse performing its natural functions with someone in full dress uniform mounted on its back.”

According to a piece in the Sunday broadsheets, Prince Philip started a truffle farm on the Sandringham Estate in 2006 and was reportedly the first person to successfully grow French Perigord black truffles from British soil! Apparently, this is a big deal especially to truffle aficionados. It’s impressive to me trying to grow some chillis and squash indoors!

Various charities and individuals have spoken about how Prince Philip kept in touch with them, showing an interest in their progression long after his retirement from public life from Dame Floella Benjamin to Shakespeare’s Globe theatre shows me an integrity and empathy not shown in any press reporting prior to his death.

Talk about hidden depths.

So what thoughts has the death of Prince Philip exposed for me?

  1. Our perceptions about someone/something should be based on factual evidence not gossip, social media etc.
  2. If we can’t find the evidence to determine if our perceptions are correct, we should keep a neutral, open mind.
  3. Above all, it should be remembered everyone has hidden depths

Empowering Women

Recently, Labour MP Jess Phillips won special dispensation from the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons to b real time limits and read out a list of over 100 women killed by male violence over the past year.

The list of names was supplied by Karen Ingala Smith from the Counting Dead Women Project.

A few things struck me:

  1. First, how sad it is that there is a need for Counting Dead Women Project.

2. A number of the women on the list read out by Jess would have likely experienced months/years of anxiety, depression, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness or being abused in their own homes as well as on the streets

3. Why aren’t we more shocked about the violence experienced by our mothers, sisters, daughters?

It is a huge problem with no easy, one size fix solution. For me, in situations of domestic violence, empowerment and self belief is key. No one can move forward when they believe the negativity drip fed to them over time by their abuser(s).

I have delivered empowerment components to all participants of the employment programmes I’ve compiled from the Real Apprentice to Growing Talent. Throughout lockdown, I’ve delivered various workshops voluntarily including empowerment to clients of JobCentre Plus.

In these workshops we discussed:

  • Definition of empowerment
  • What stops us moving forward
  • Dealing with procrastination
  • Personal roadmap
  • Identifying your purpose
  • Selfcare toolkit

Feedback on the workshops included:

“This workshop helped me change and adapt a more positive mindset to navigate the hard times in life” Chui Yen

“I learned that we should not be afraid to take risks, face our fears no matter the circumstances and to not hold back.” Elizabeth P.

“The atmosphere was relaxed and hearing the facilitators experiences put things in perspective. The session was very clear and stuck to the point.” Karen

“I loved the session. In 2 hours a huge amount of thought provoking points.” Magda

” I have learnt new techniques to empower myself” Malie

“I will definitely be adopting the tools shared – affirmations, 5 second brain hack etc” Samantha

“The workshop was a good confidence boost and gave me alternative ways of looking at things. I gained more knowledge than I expected to” Trish

Out of these energising, interactive workshops, a request to form an on-going Womens’ Empowerment Network Group was requested. The inaugural one takes place tomorrow.

For me, building women’s self-confidence and self-worth is key to their empowerment to leave toxic relationships. Big journeys start with one single brave step.

Of course women’s empowerment is just one tool to improve society’s safety.

Thriving together.

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.