Tis the season to be (not so) jolly: Mental health at Christmas

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Christmas can be a magical time of the year, but for some people it can be an emotionally challenging time and with pressure increasing year on year, it’s a time that can play havoc with our mental health.

Among the chaos of shopping, retail adverts, festive lattes and that image of a “perfect” Christmas; for some people, this time of year can conjure up feelings of dread, loneliness and sadness. Whilst Christmas is unavoidable, it is important to highlight that when it comes to festivities in the workplace, there are employees who struggle for various reasons, and the problem with this is that it is not always obvious as employees are often reluctant to talk about it which can make it difficult to offer relevant support.

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#HRActsOfKindness It’s World Kindness Day 2017

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It’s 13th November which means that it is World Kindness Day 2017.

Whilst an act of kindness may sound like a great marketing campaign, it is simple to do and absolutely necessary to positively contribute to society given the tragedies we too often see in the world.

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World Mental Health Day 2017

“Just because you are struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing.”

At least one in six workers experiences common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. Research conducted by leading charity Mind, shows that 55% of employees surveyed said that work is the biggest cause of stress in their lives, more so than debt or financial problems.

Mental ill-health costs the UK economy £26 billion each year, this is through 91 million lost working days, staff turnover and lower productivity. With such staggering figures, it is within every organisations interest to establish ways to tackle the problem. What is really concerning is not just the prevalence of stress and mental health problems at work, but that employees don’t feel supported to be able to deal with these pressures.

The main causes of mental ill health at work are excessive workload, frustration with poor management, lack of support and unrealistic targets. Stress at work is also effecting people’s personal lives. One in five employees said that it puts a strain on their relationships, while 11% have missed important events such as birthdays due to work related stress.

Prince Harry has spoken publicly about the importance of mental health awareness amongst the armed forces; not just post career but has actively campaigned for mental health to become an active part throughout their career. This has lead to a review and implementation of new training methods and support mechanisms will also be rolled out to reservists, veterans and civil servants.

The starting point can be seen as difficult, but it does not need to be. Simply taking the time to speak to a colleague or manager to tell them how you are feeling and what your concerns are can help take that first step to improving mental health. It’s the little things that make the big difference, so if you are an employee reading this, your manager needs to know that you are struggling, if it is pressures with workload, they may be able to offer a solution. Likewise, if you are a manager yourself reading this, then you need to do the same, just because you have a more senior title it does not mean that you shouldn’t be able to address your concerns.

We must always keep in mind that mental ill health does not discriminate and affects nearly everyone at some point in their lives, this is why it is so important that we start these conversations to try and remove the stigma that is associated with mental ill health.

Mental health may be a hot topic but it is a very fluid subject, one critical point is to ensure that individual cases are treated as exactly that, as an individual. Just because one person has a condition, it does not mean that the remedies and supporting tools are the same. There is no one size fits all approach and therefore businesses cannot just roll out a wellbeing initiative hoping that it will work, the subject of mental health is ongoing and will be evolving at a fast pace for many years to come.

Mind has a fantastic guide to help support employers who want to promote positive mental health within their organisations; to access the guide, please click here.

 

Back from the future: Is L&D ready? #CIPDMAP17

The session was hosted by Teresa Rose from E.ON. The purpose of the session is to establish what the future looks like and how this is impacted by the use of data and how we learn from each other.

Let’s go five years into the future; what does your business look like, what technology are you using, what capabilities do you have and what are your expectations and more importantly that of our customers?

Capability and culture play a key role in the transition to maintain pace with changing environments, expectations and technology with the introduction of AI. It depends on your business environment and the style of your employee and client base, for example we are now working with five different generations; how can you appeal and successfully deliver training that transcends the multi-generations. Will we deliver training differently? The answer is simply most certainly, are organisations adequately prepared? The general feeling around the room insinuated that they were aware of the changes. but were not adequately prepared, there is no one size fits all approach but all of these factors should be taken into account when designing and developing training for the future.

The CIPD are continuously advising on the importance of CPD, what are you doing to ensure your journey continues? There is a strong emphasis on personal responsibility to be accountable for your career development so individuals cannot rely upon organisations delivering what they need when they are unaware of the requirement, so the next time you’re having your annual appraisal with your manager, make sure you tell them your expectations and really pinpoint your development needs.

 

 

A racing start to CIPD MAP 2017 from Derek Redmond

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Derek Redmond has got CIPD MAP 2017 off to a flying start, I particularly enjoyed his opening line that he used to run around in circles for a living!

Whilst Derek may have swopped lacing up his trainers for driving high performance in his role at Thomas International; his motivation remains the same, to get the most out of people in his role as Performance Director.

Engagement may be a strange term but it is a topic that many are passionate about, even as an individual, we always have a team around us to help us deliver. There’s always a coach behind us cheering us on to achieve our goals.

Derek might have been alone on the track, but he had a team of people around him to help him achieve his aspirations,; a track coach, flexibility coach, masseuse, sports physiologist, physiotherapist, exercise physiologist, S&C coach, partner, agent and his Dad! All have a key role to play in the story of his success and it is no different in the world of work, they are experts in what they do.

Reflecting on Margaret Heffernan’s opening keynote to CIPD ACE 16, this demonstrates the importance of people working together, knowing their roles and ultimately, who has supported you to get you where you are now? These people are vital to our success and achieving what sometimes feels impossible. When people understand their roles, it improves relationships, communication and when they understand what each other are doing, that is where the magic happens.

Recognition to keep people engaged is essential, simply say thank you. It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture but those people will never forget it and they will feel appreciated. Last week, I was speaking to my husband Mark at home and I turned to him and simply said “thank you for everything you do, I wouldn’t be here at this point in my career without you”. He seemed a bit taken back by it but it is true and I realised that I don’t say it enough, we should all do this more often.

Empowerment, alignment, involvement; these words are part of our daily lives, it’s not new but these resources can be constantly applied to every area of our performance. They are supported by our attitude and approach to how we undertake tasks to help us deliver to the best of our ability.

One thing that we should all do regularly is to reflect on our career journey, Derek mentioned that doing this each year is important; ask yourself, where were you this time last year? Are you behind? Have you kept on track? It’s vital to consistently monitor where you are on your journey and more importantly, are they fitting to where you want to be?

High engagement drives high performance; if you have highly skilled people that are not engaged, then you will simply not getting the most out of them. Engagement is as simple as that, so taking steps to improve engagement is essential to driving high performance within your business so the need for investment in this area couldn’t be more critical. Skills are irrelevant, it’s engagement that is truly important.

People and performance; in the world of business, the most common mistake is to judge upon business performance. Too much focus on figures and strategy often sacrifices understanding the role, team spirit and leaves little room for challenging each other; a distinct lack of people focus. If you look after the people, your performance will take care of itself, it sounds simple but too many organisations forget this which hinders the level of performance.

Understanding your people is the key to driving your organisation forward, as Derek demonstrated when he won the Olympic gold medal with his team in 1991. It demonstrates the capability of a truly engaged team, the same principles can be instilled in organisations.

Most organisations have the right people to deliver but they might be in the wrong roles, or there could be a lack of communication, it’s about understanding and mindset. These words will resonate with everyone so why do we continue to stay the same?

We don’t need to be told that the world of work is evolving, if this is news to you then you are already miles behind. You can’t expect to do something different if you’re doing the same thing.

A fantastic start to this years CIPD MAP Conference and a lot of food for thought to take us through the day.