VRA member Lisa Whittleton of Illuminate VR Services Ltd joined the panel at a recent event for Birmingham, Coventry and Warwickshire CIPD branches on mental wellbeing in the workplace. She provided insights from her experiences supporting organisations with their wellbeing concerns through the pandemic.
A message from Lisa:
We were delighted to be asked to speak at the CIPD event in May 2021 at what is a really critical time for organisations navigating their way out of lockdown alongside supporting their teams with a range of wellbeing issues that have either surfaced or been exacerbated by the stress of the last 16 months. We have seen first hand some of the challenges faced by organisations; specifically isolation, loss of motivation and low energy levels, and heightened anxiety and stress. We have seen a rise in companies referring to us for vocational assessments to support with complex mental health issues, long covid concerns and guidance around return to work adjustments.
Our top tips for organisations:
- Remember you are jointly responsible for wellbeing. Mental health is both the responsibility of the employee and the organisation
- Maintain regular communications, adult to adult. Ensure there is a reasonable dialogue about work-family pressures and an individuals capacity at that particular time
- Offer a tailored approach. This is best if based on feedback, data and understanding your workforces needs so that it is inclusive and relevant.
- Implement support that is little and often rather than ‘tick box’. Getting a wellbeing strategy in place which informs regular, small scale actions that are proactive will have a lasting impact
- Build a climate of wellbeing. Leaders and managers are encouraged to look after themselves and lead by example so that you build a positive environment.
What potential risks do we need to be aware of for the future?
- Delayed traumas and issues surfacing post-pandemic – including mental ill health and long covid symptoms
- Increased cases of burnout due to presenteeism and leaveism (not taking leave) during lockdown
- Conflicts due to different tolerances to risk, personality preferences and resentment as people return to work / back to ‘normal’ ways of working
- Changing sense of purpose and reluctance to return to ‘the hamster wheel’
What positives can we take forward?
- Our enhanced awareness of mental health and the need for training / upskilling
- Our understanding of what works and doesn’t work for our own wellbeing and self-care
- Flexible working arrangements and steps towards healthier work-life integration
- Working in a smarter way – better use of technology
- Understanding of the need for quality and regular social interactions at work
- Taking a more proactive approach to wellbeing e.g. making referrals to professionals early