Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace

As part of our mission to create great places to work, JourneyHR recently hosted an in-depth discussion and learning seminar on the topic of ‘mental health and wellbeing in the workplace’, with a specific focus on creating a positive working culture. The event featured guest speakers Mind, the leading mental health awareness charity, and Jonathan Palmer our mental health and wellbeing coach. Here are our key takeaways from the evening.

·        Many people believe that mental health is just about mental ill-health, but it is actually about mental well-health too. This misconception means that even the most progressive companies are only spending time tackling existing mental health problems rather than addressing the potential causes. This is of course essential, but preventative conversations and actions can stop many employees suffering from work related ill-health before it progresses too far. Employers and managers must explore the different ways to promote mental well-health proactively – the response and results will be clear to see.

·        Senior staff should stick it to the stigma! Mental health is still such a taboo subject in the workplace, yet its prevalence is undeniable. The statistics don’t lie: 1 in 6 employees deal with anxiety, depression or stress in the workplace; 1 in 5 employees call in sick due to mental health issues, yet 95% of these individuals give a different reason to their employer. The reality is that almost everyone has experienced work related stress and if there was an open forum to discuss this amongst colleagues, the issue could be tackled. Senior directors have the influence to open the door to these conversations and by doing so, employees will feel they have ‘permission’ to express their own challenges or experiences.

·        Anyone who manages people needs to have strong emotional intelligence and the skills to recognise mental health concerns. It is easy to hear someone talking, but hard to really listen to their struggles. After the initial disclosure it is essential that the listener exercises clear communication with the employee and identifies what next steps could be taken. Sometimes this may just be continuing to listen, making a small adjustment to their working environment or in some instances, remembering that they are not a medical practitioner and realising that it is ok to call in the experts!

If you are interested in finding out how to make your business a great place to work, please get in touch!

Developing talent with an Olympic mindset

The Olympics is a sporting spectacle like no other, and Rio 2016 will be no different. As athletes from all nations descend on the coastal Brazilian city, much will be made of their physical performance in the coming weeks. However, whilst the physical element will dominate headlines and captivate audiences, a lot of an athlete’s preparation will be psychological.

For many months, if not years, competitors have been preparing their mental focus for the moment they step out to fight for a medal. It is this mindset that managers and employees should learn to apply in the workplace. But how can businesses identify and encourage this Olympic mindset?

Learn from mistakes
Employees often view mistakes as something that should be avoided at all costs; some even fear the mere thought of making an error. However, the same cannot be said for athletes who understand that making a mistake can actually help them to improve their performance. In a business setting, making a mistake can cause demotivation, so managers must emphasise that each new experience will require a learning curve. With this approach, managers will be able to offer the support and guidance that is needed to turn an error into knowledge for the future. This will help staff understand that making mistakes is simply a fact of life and not something to be feared.

Be coachable
Olympic athletes thrive on feedback, both positive and constructive. In fact, they often pay for coaching teams to critique their style in order to enhance their performance. This process is normally managed very carefully, with each performance reviewed as it happens, highlighting the importance of delivering timely feedback. Without this positive attitude towards development, an athlete may fail to reach to top of his or her game whilst competitors excel.

In the workplace, being coachable is essential across all levels of the organisation. Having an open mind and accepting feedback is the first step to being ‘coachable’, but high performing individuals will take this a step further. Peak performers typically ask for 360° input and constructive criticism from your team, are flexible in their approach to assignments, and are unafraid to retry a task that may not have succeeded in the past.

Generate drive
When it comes to being the best, Olympians know that they have to push their bodies and minds further than ever before. To beat the best, employees will also need to find that extra gear and really push themselves. Being comfortable with the uncomfortable is something that employees should embrace in order to make sure they are working to the best of their ability. Being in a situation that is outside of someone’s normal comfort zone is a challenge, but one that will lead to greater results personally, and for the wider team.

Team work
Even athletes competing in individual events have a strong team behind them, helping them to prepare for the event and providing encouragement. Maintaining a strong team mentality is equally important for employees. Managers need to ensure that members of their team are being encouraging and supportive and that each individual is motivated to work to the best of his or her ability. A rowing squad cannot win if one member is out of sync; the same can be said for a team in the workplace. All employees must be working towards a common goal in order to achieve success.

Work ethic
Olympic athletes are in the best possible physical condition for The Games, but this does not just happen; it requires a world-class work ethic. This is achieved through serious dedication, motivation and an unyielding desire to win. Employees also need a strong work ethic in order to achieve their goals in the workplace. In the same way that an Olympian dreams of a gold medal, a manager must ensure that staff also have a clear and achievable goal to work towards.

So whilst you’re cheering on the country of your choice, in your favourite sports, watch out for that Olympic mindset and see how you can create this in the workplace. Ready, get set, go…

Pioneering the way for women in senior roles

The government is backing a new campaign to increase female representation in business leadership positions following the 2016 Female FTSE Board Reportwhich revealed progress in developing the talent pipeline has slowed.

This report builds on an earlier review by Lord Davies and calls for FTSE 350 companies to have 33% of women on boards by 2020. With more to be done across the board, the PR sector is an example of an industry that is already successful in this area, but there is still more that can be achieved.

A report released by the CIPR in March this year showed that women make up 48% of MD, partner and owner positions within the PR industry.

This is a huge improvement from the same report in 2013 that showed women only made up 13% of the same roles. Over the past three years this increase showcases the PR industry’s dedication to the issue of gender diversity.

As an industry, PR has actively developed the characteristics and skills that are needed when it comes to helping women reach the top jobs. Also, this has inspired and encouraged a large percentage of women to start up on their own. Females creating their own businesses is an encouraging sign that the industry is on the right lines when it comes to developing skills and giving women the confidence to go it alone.

This is a positive sign given that, within the PR industry, staff are often promoted for being excellent at their jobs; creating media opportunities for clients, building relationships with press and writing strong content.

Promoting people because of these skills is vital but they also need to understand the fundamental aspects of running a business if they are to progress to the board. Running or having ownership of a company requires an entirely different set of skills.

Senior staff need to understand the business’ financial controls, be able to form and execute the strategy for growth, attract and retain the best talent, ensure the operations that underpin the firm’s work are sound and fit for purpose and build a network of key influencers to help support the business.

All the while they must stay close to clients, keep a key focus on client retention, win new business and establish a unique culture within the company. The PR industry is a front runner for encouraging business acumen at each stage of the ladder, as strategy is introduced in various forms from an early stage.

The PR industry has pushed ahead when it comes to promoting women to the top levels, whether that is through inter-company development or encouraging and inspiring them to start their own businesses. However, even with the government focusing on females in senior roles, the PR industry needs to keep up its pioneering efforts when it comes to women in the industry.


Published in Gorkana’s Opinion Piece, 25th July 2016

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