I started our new decade with hope and aspiration to achieve a workplace culture which unlocks the potential talent of colleagues to thrive and be their authentic self. Covid-19 came along and dismantled the belonging as we know it and questioned the way we go about things.

Like many, I have been socially distancing, the physical connections replaced to virtual connections, the movement to explore and be creative is now within the walls of my home, emotions re-ignited to a new heightened awareness. Yet I am filled with more hope, more aspiration and more belief that the place of work will now embrace an inclusive place of work.

Engagement at work has never been more critical, the human connection and employee engagement underpinned with wellbeing programmes is fundamental as we unlock the discretionary effort. Wellbeing budgets and programmes have not yet been the CEO first priority and rarely discussed at the top table, however when you look at recent events I would invite all CEO’s to place wellbeing as a board agenda as we do P&L.

A reminder of life before COVID-19, the cost of presentism (Stephenson-farmer review), mental health affecting 1 in 4, cost of recruitment, cost of sickness absence and loss of productivity, imagine re-diverting the cost of this and re-investing in wellbeing and engagement.

My approach to wellbeing is an individual’s ability to develop their potential, work productively, build strong and positive relationships and contribute having a purpose and sense of belonging. What constitutes wellbeing it is the intersection of our emotional, physical, mental and financial touch points and for each of us those touch points are varied. The complexity of peoples lives in today’s modern workplace and how the boundary continues to blur between home and work should not and can not be ignored. Building healthy workplaces recognising the four pillars of wellbeing should now sit front and centre of all business strategies.

There is plenty of data supporting the correlation between engagement and wellbeing. Health and wellbeing activity has led to better employee morale and engagement (44%) and lower sickness absence (31%), 1 CIPD Health and Wellbeing at work report, 2018.

The return on investment of workplace mental health interventions is overwhelmingly positive, with an average ROI of 4.2:1 Mental Health and Employers: The Case For Investment – Deloitte, October 2017

A recent Deliotte report states on average employers obtain a return of £5 for evert £1 invested. This 5:2:1

So how do we move forward from a year that has caused so much pain, uncertainty, emotional vulnerability and kindness, compassion and authentic leadership.

On an individual level I would invite you to:

  1. Celebrate the wins whatever the magnitude these are; it could be following the routine to exercise, to eat well, to stay hydrated, to smile;
  2. Recognise your emotion and move forward to fulfil your intention and purpose. Many of us will experience anxiety for the very first time, talk to friends, colleagues or tap into the wonderful support available, many of which can be found at MIND, NHS or with your employer’s EAP scheme;
  3. Marc Brackett introduced the concept of RULER as a way to own our emotions and accept them. Recognise, understand, Label, Express and Regulate;
  4. One step at a time – recognise how quickly you adapted to lockdown, and with that recognise how quickly you will adapt to come out of lockdown as you move forward;
  5. Self-care, what nourishes and replenishes your wellbeing? is it laughing, reading a book, talking with a friend, doing your hobby give yourself permission to nourish your wellness.

On an organisation level I would invite you to:

  1. Recognise the approach you took to wellness during Covid-19, and work with your Board and colleagues to keep it alive and relevant;
  2. Work with your HRD to introduce wellbeing to the board agenda, looking at the cost of ignoring adding wellbeing as a strategic enabler vs continuing tactical wellbeing initiatives;
  3. Evolve your workplace culture with compassion and share your personal wellbeing strategies and lived experiences. We all have emotions and we all have wellbeing.
  4. Shine a spotlight on the wins, whatever the magnitude of these are.

A time to move forward, nourishing our needs and fulfilling our full potential as we thrive at work.

Tali Shlomo

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