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Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace
- AuthorDave Meredith
Hey there, Mr. Grumpy Gills. When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do? Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim. - Dory, Finding Nemo
If anything sums up 2020 it’s this quote from a Pixar classic and keeping swimming is what businesses had to do, or to extend the metaphor the alternative was to sink without a trace, says Dave Meredith, of Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers.
Keeping staff motivated was a challenge for us all during the pandemic and like many firms Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers tried to look after our staff at this moment of monumental change.
The previous year, as a firm we undertook a detailed survey of our staff which highlighted a number of areas we needed to work on to improve the business and working environment for everyone. Amongst the feedback was that wellbeing and mental health were matters we needed to understand better and pay more attention to.
When the first lockdown hit us in March 2020 a lot of media attention was given to wellbeing and the affect that working from home and not interacting with work colleagues was having on peoples’ health. Conscious of this, we signed up with a specialist company who undertook a further survey of all our staff, specifically in relation to their mental health, stress and wellbeing. We followed this up with a series of webinars on wellbeing related subjects.
It’s always difficult to gauge the best approach in these areas, when attendance is low is it because staff are ok and have no issues, do they not like to share how they feel, or are they reluctant to come forward as they think attendance of these seminars may be seen as a weakness by their colleagues and management? Nothing of which could be further from the truth.
Nonetheless, we continued to offer this support and later in 2020 signed up to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This provides a complete support network that offers expert advice and compassionate guidance covering a wide range of issues. The idea is that it offers not only reactive support when someone needs it, but also proactive and preventative support to deliver the best possible outcomes.
The service is available to staff and their immediate family members 24 hours a day, 7 days a week including:
- Life support: Unlimited access to counselling for emotional problems and a pathway to structured telephone counselling or face-to-face counselling sessions (employees only).
- Legal information: For any issues that cause anxiety or distress including debt management, accountancy, lawsuits, consumer disputes, property or neighbour legalities (employees only).
- Bereavement support: They provide qualified and experienced counsellors who can help with grief and related stress plus a team of legal advisors to help with legal issues.
- Medical information: Qualified nurses are on hand to offer advice on a range of medical or health related issues. They can’t diagnose but can offer a sympathetic ear and practical information and advice.
- CBT online: a range of CBT self-help modules, informative factsheets and invaluable advice videos from leading qualified counsellors.
There’s even a handy smartphone app that includes a weekly mood checker, mini health checks and four weekly plans towards a healthier lifestyle.
The service is entirely confidential and as such we aren’t aware which of our staff are currently using it, however a number of them have expressed their appreciation for us making it available - so it’s hopefully working for some!
As an employer of over 70 staff locally we believe that understanding them and how they are feeling and coping has never been more important. In the workplace we will always look out for each other and encourage people to shout up if they are struggling and we hope that the additional, confidential, support we are providing through the EAP will reinforce this.