Before COVID19 hit the UK, work for most of us was full on – with constant pressure to hit deadlines, manage shrinking budgets and be on call 24-7. When you’re that busy keeping your head above the water it’s hard to make time to contemplate your own wellbeing.
However recent evidence shows that wellbeing at work is not some Californian touchy-feely fad, but something that really matters. According to Healthy Mind Coaching, a new study carried out by You.Gov found that more than half of all employees suffer from burnout, severe anxiety and physical and emotional exhaustion in the workplace. Apart from the obvious toll on people’s lives this has a financial impact on companies. Figures from the UK Centre for Mental Health show the annual cost of mental ill-health to all UK workplaces as being about £40 billion. As Healthy Mind Coaching says “We believe the most successful businesses are those who enjoy work; therefore, a smiling and enthusiastic workforce is productive and profitable… a healthy workforce who enjoy their jobs, and an employer who values well-being, can have a dramatic effect on morale, productivity and efficiency.”
Dr Steve Aldana has authored 75 scientific papers on health risk management, and he sums up the importance of wellbeing at work saying “ When you offer your employees a wellbeing program you are telling them that you respect them, you trust them, and that you want to help them be successful in life.” This interest in wellbeing is being reflected at top level in the country with the all-party parliamentary group on wellbeing economics suggesting that personal wellbeing rather than economic growth should be the primary aim of government spending.
Having established that wellbeing matters, the next step is introducing it in the workplace. If employers recognise the importance of their employees to their organisation, then it follows that they’ll ensure that the health and wellbeing of their staff features at the top of the agenda. They can do this with a variety of strategies. Implementing flexible working hours can help relieve tension balancing home, family and work – and then there’s communication, how is it managed in the workplace? Poor communication can lead to negativity, disempowerment and mental stress whereas if staff know what’s expected of them then they’re more likely to perform to their full potential. Employers can encourage their employees to be healthy by instigating lunch-time yoga sessions or group activities (great for bonding and relieving pressure) and how about suggesting that employees walk or cycle to work?
Now we’re in the middle of a pandemic many of us will have suddenly found ourselves working from home – which brings new challenges for our wellbeing. Statistician Nic Marks is best known for his work on the Happy Planet Index, and he writes about the importance of building team trust remotely in Working through the Coronavirus. Emails or messaging services may be good for business efficiency, but they don’t convey the personal – we pick up all sorts of non-verbal cues from facial expressions etc, which we need to build trust and psychological safety. To maintain positive team dynamics, he advises investing in good video conferencing. Empathy is important – many of us find new challenges to working from home so it is good practice to try and encourage people to create new rituals in how they work, bearing in mind that most people can only concentrate for about 50 minutes at a time, so short breaks are essential. ‘Side conversations’ matter too – social chat between team members is important for morale now we’re not grabbing a quick coffee with work-mates. Many will find remote working disorientating, so make time to check in too – not only on the work people are doing but how they’re feeling. And senior and people leaders need to have new systems in place that enable them to keep in touch with their teams. A weekly people check-up will allow leaders to monitor and track employee experience across the whole organisation. Who knows when things will revert back, but at least if organisations are mindful of their employees’ wellbeing then positives can come out of this disruption.
At Wise Goose we’re aware of the important role coaching plays in building resilience and wellbeing. Founder Helen Sieroda says “At Wise Goose we’ve identified how a good coaching style from a manager helps tackle difficult conversations when things aren’t going well, get employees fully engaged, be more effective in helping people to flourish and be themselves, as opposed to just trying to fit into a role – it’s incredibly powerful! Coaching gives people the support, tools and resources they need to become their best versions of themselves, taking a proactive approach to their performance and wellbeing. Sometimes we get entrenched in work patterns and ways of doing things that sap our energy and don’t give us what we need to be as productive as we can be. It’s just about stopping and asking the right questions in order to find the best solutions. Coaching skills help people become more resourceful, creative, able to solve problems and thrive in their workplace.”
Wise Goose’s Advanced Coaching Diploma Programme looks at these strategies for coaching workplace wellbeing and resilience. Find out more at https://wisegoose.co.uk/foundation-programme/ Presently start dates for the next diploma programme are under review due to Covid19, so please register your interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org