By Elisabeth Goodman, 22nd October 2021
A little about me and the title of this blog
I’m on a bit of a creative journey at the moment, through a combination of some spiritual explorations (see for example Neill 2016) and following an 8-week course on mindfulness (Chaskalson & McMordie 2018) that I’ve interrupted mid-way whilst I follow the 12-week programme in “The Artists’ Way” (Cameron 2020).
These explorations have been doing me a world of good, and have led me to embark on writing a series of small prose pieces that I’m collecting under the heading of “Wellbeing musings”. I’m also working on my drawing skills as per the illustration accompanying this blog. I’m intending to pull the writings and illustrations into some form of publication in honour of my mum – who is still with us but also slowly slipping way from us cognitively.
Whilst I’m not (yet) explicitly using any of my spiritual, mindfulness or creative writing and art with my coaching clients, or with delegates in my workshops or courses, all of this is permeating my state of mind and by transference will be having some form of impact on others.
I’m also very aware, as I talk to my clients, that there are some real issues at work in terms of what people are being expected to do, irrespective of the extra strain that may or may not continue as Covid infection rates continue to be high.
Wellbeing at work
It was wonderful to be able to air the topic of wellbeing at work for a whole hour in a recent panel discussion One Nucleus Employer of Choice Session: Wellbeing – Helping Employees Stay in Tune.
Whilst we did not actually sing during the session, we did hear about how singing can be good for our wellbeing and, if done with colleagues (as some organisations are indeed initiating) can build powerful connections between us – and bring humanity back into our relations at work. Other themes that we explored included:
- How senior leaders can share their personal Covid stories as a way to demonstrate that it’s OK to be vulnerable at work and open the conversation around mental health.
- Creating conversations from recruitment throughout the employee lifecycle, in one-to-ones and in team meetings, about what helps us to be at our best at work: what we need from ourselves and others to make that possible. That’s it’s OK to be “neurodiverse” in terms of how we think, feel, act and move. Having these conversations early could actually prevent mental health issues from arising.
- Bringing in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training in a way that engages people: making it something that they choose to do rather than are told to do, and delivering it in a way that works best whether face-to-face, virtual or some other means.
- Having MHFA champions in the workplace, but respecting that their role is to help people to recognise when they need further support and to signpost them to where to get it.
- Recognising that there is a balance to be achieved between meeting individual needs for working practices that will support their wellbeing, and the culture that will enable an organisation to deliver what it needs to deliver. But that that balance may not need to be quite as far over to an organisation-centric approach as we might think:
- An organisation will only be as productive, innovative, creative and generally healthy as the people within it
- “The way we do things” and the assumptions associated with that can be challenged
- What one person identifies as potentially making a difference to their wellbeing, could actually be beneficial to others too
By the way, the working practices that could be considered in the context of wellbeing include:
- When we work – flexibility of hours)
- Where we work – from home, the workplace, other co-working places
- How we work – the actual nature of our working processes etc.
I wrote a previous blog about how companies could explore their practices in the context of the return to hybrid work following the pandemic (Goodman 2021) that might be helpful in this context.
Coincidentally, Markus Bernhardt, CCO Obrizum Group, recently shared this SAP Newsletter: Prioritize These HR Trends Now to Enhance Employee Well-Being on LinkedIn. The article highlights some great themes to consider. As I said in my comment on LinkedIn: why would you not pay attention to:
- What we’ve learnt about flexible working arrangements during the pandemic?
- Learning and development as evidence that you value your employees?
- Working Diversity & Inclusion into every fibre of your organisation’s being?
- Putting HR in the centre and forefront of your organisation?
- Respecting employees’ privacy whilst harnessing the power of data intelligence?
- Treating each and every employee as a valued and unique (internal) customer?
- Continuing to be as agile in responding to employees’ needs and wellbeing as organisations learnt to be when Covid-19 first came on the scene?
For me, what lies at the heart of people’s wellbeing at work is
- Recognising that they can have choice about their conditions of work
- Developing the courage to advocate for what they need
- Being prepared to challenge the status quo or even the emerging workplace culture
It is about individual courage, but it is also about leadership awareness and role-modelling, and the work that coaches, trainers, managers, leaders, HR professionals and others can do to keep the conversation alive.
And by the way, I am starting to explore how I might bring creative writing and art into my work with clients, so do let me know if this is something you might be interested in.
We are already having conversations about wellbeing in some of our group coaching style courses at RiverRhee, and in my coaching, in the context of resilience, and also in approaches for managing workloads.
Bidwell, Lauren (2021). Prioritize These HR Trends Now to Enhance Employee Well-Being. SAP News Centre
Cameron, J. (2020). The Artist’s Way. A spiritual path to higher creativity. Souvenir Press
Chaskalson, M. & McMordie, M. (2018). Mindfulness for Coaches. An experiential guide. Routledge.
Cronk, D., Bell, G., Urquhart L., Shaw, S., Goodman, E. (2021, 20 October). One Nucleus Employer of Choice Session: Wellbeing – Helping Employees Stay in Tune. A panel discussion with One Nucleus. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JROfk-jiG-4&t=47s
Goodman, E. (2021, May). Hybrid working – considerations for managers and leaders. Retrieved from https://riverrhee.com/hybrid-working-considerations-for-managers-and-leaders/
Neill, M. (2016). The space within. Finding your way back home. Hay House