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Embrace HR Aylesbury Mental Health Awareness

How would you feel if your employees were putting their own mental health at risk in their bid to succeed at work? We look at how you can be aware of how workplace pressures can affect your staff and how you can help…

As May 13-19 is Mental Health Awareness Week, make this the time to take a look at the mental wellbeing of your staff.

How often do your staff work outside of their set hours? Is there a culture of ‘presenteeism’ in your workplace – where anyone who leaves the office at five, or works part-time, or has time off sick, is looked down on, or considered a slacker?

According to the CIPD, presenteeism has quadrupled since 2010 [CIPD: Presenteeism hits record high in UK organisations as stress at work rises 02/05/2018] and according to Personnel Today the trend is rising for employees to go into work when feeling mentally unwell [Personnel Today: Mental health presenteeism on the rise 10/10/2018], and yet more staff are taking time off sick.

What has come to light in research from wellbeing charity CABA, is that as many as three-quarters of HR professionals believe that making a good impression at work is having a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of employees.

Technology has a part to play in this – thanks to smartphones we are all available 24-7, at the end of the phone or contactable via email. And businesses can be guilty of expecting staff to check emails or take calls over weekends and evenings when they are not officially contracted to work.

Take a walk through your workplace after the official end of the day. How many staff are still in the office? If there are more than you expected, ask yourself why – ask them why! Being realistic, there will always be someone who has a deadline or a major project coming up who is likely to put in more hours, but this should not be the norm.

Encouraging this culture puts stress on your employees. They end up working late, maybe drinking to wind down after the day, or not having time to spend with family, exercise, or enjoy a hobby.

Having well-rested staff is only going to benefit your organisation. A well-rested team with a good work/life balance will perform better, be more focused and less likely to make careless mistakes. They are also less likely to suffer from physical or mental illness.

Think about how you can help your staff enjoy good mental wellbeing. Conduct a survey to find out how much they feel they must stay behind after working hours, discover how much work is actually done during that time, and why people feel they need to work past their normal hours.

Ensure that senior managers and line managers are on board and understand the issues, as they will have a great impact on preventing these unhealthy working practices.

Establish guidelines around contacting staff outside of working hours and when they are on annual leave.

Finally, work out whether there is a culture of presenteeism or if there are too few staff to deal with the workload. HR can be the champion of promoting a healthy work/life balance. Have some fun with it – maybe if working overtime through the week is an issue, think about introducing an early home time on a Friday afternoon, or as some companies do, turning Friday afternoon into a social downtime.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it could help your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.

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Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Embrace HR Aylesbury Mental Health

We all know that a company must have appointed first aiders, but who is taking care of your staff’s mental first aid?

Did you know 57% of UK workers (MIND: Half of workers have experienced poor mental health in current job, 11/09/2018) have experienced some issue with their mental health? And yet, while there is a legal requirement to have a first aider on site in case someone gets hurt at work, there is no such requirement for looking after your staff’s mental health.

However, that could be set to change. Last month, a debate took place in Parliament on legislative change around mental health first aid in the workplace. A cross-party group of MPs backed a motion to introduce legislation that would see mental and physical first aid placed on an equal footing. The move followed a public petition that garnered 200,000 signatures and the backing of 50 UK businesses and 60 MPs.

HSE – the independent regulator for work-related health – has also released guidance on mental health first aid (HSE: First aid needs assessment).

The problem with mental health issues is that they carry extra challenges – the stigma attached to it, the fear that revealing issues to your employer will put your job at risk, that colleagues and managers will judge you… Little surprise that a survey conducted by Mental Health charity Mind revealed that while half those surveyed had experienced a mental health problem, only half of that number had discussed it with their employer.

Aside from the human cost of ignoring mental health issues in the workplace, there is a financial cost too. According to the Centre for Mental Health Mental ill health costs UK employers £34.9 billion each year (Mental Health at Work: The business cost ten years on, 05/09/2017).

Why you need mental first aiders

If you have trained mental first aiders within your organisation, they will gain a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding mental health and the impact it can have on people.

They will also learn how to spot the signs of those who are struggling and gain the confidence to lead them in the direction of the support they need.

Like physical first aiders, it is not the job of your mental first aiders to ‘cure’ anyone with issues – they are there to spot the signs and point people in the direction of professionals who can help them further.

Mental first aiders can help to empower those who have long-term issues and enable them to thrive in the workplace. They can also help prevent mental health issues arising in the workplace by helping to create a supportive culture.

How to get mental first aiders trained

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognised training course. It can teach your staff how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health, offer help and guide them to the appropriate support.

Mental Health First Aiders need to complete a two-day MHFA course. See mhfaengland.org for more details.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it could help your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Embrace HR Aylesbury Laughter

It’s not just an old wives’ tale – laughter and keeping happy can be the secret to content and productive staff – it’s the science of Laughology!

Laughology is a training and consulting organisation founded by Stephanie Davies.

Working on the stand-up circuit, she realised that humour could help her survive as she performed on the club circuit (in particular the male-dominated working men’s clubs in the North), and in turn came to the realisation that it could help both individuals and organisations.

With a background in community arts and a master’s degree in psychology, Stephanie studied at the famous Gesundheit! Institute with Hunter Doherty ‘Patch’ Adams – the doctor portrayed by Robin Williams in the film Patch Adams. Stephanie is now one of the UK’s most renowned experts on the science of humour, laughter and happiness.

Built around the psychology of humour, laughter and happiness, Stephanie has taken the Laughology model of learning and development to businesses and schools, with a combination of organisational behaviour change programmes, one-off sessions and workshops.

Now for the science part

Laughter and humour can trigger processes in the brain that make it easier to learn. They lead to the release of neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin, which are capable of heightening emotional response and maximising neurological function.

Think about the last time you went to a workshop or presentation – which bit did you remember the most? Odds-on it was the part where the presenter or instructor used some humour, got the delegates to interact and made you laugh. So, ensuring that any key messages or content you want to be remembered come with a touch of humour is incredibly effective.

A happy workforce

No one can be 100% happy, 100% of the time – it’s just not realistic. But realistic happiness combines a mixture of emotional states and mindsets that lead to positivity, resilience and robust mental health. Confidence, coping skills, positive relationships, support and personal development are the main drivers for this realistic happiness.

According to research, happy people are healthier, more motivated, resilient – and more productive, so for businesses and organisation, promoting happiness among staff is key.

How do they do it?

Laughology has really focused on the science behind happiness and uses that to devise effective methods to help bring realistic happiness into people’s lives.

It’s not about coming into the business and getting everyone belly-laughing and tittering all day long. It’s about ensuring that people have the skills to manage the ups and downs of life – whether at work or in their outside life – the ability to learn from their experiences and to grow and progress through the hard times as well as the good times.

The aim is to help organisations use the psychology of happiness to create a culture of happiness within their business, which allows the staff to build resilience, wellbeing, engagement and productivity.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it could help your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Embrace HR Aylesbury Manager and employee engagement

Managers need to understand how they can support employee engagement and well-being. And why…

Employee engagement and well-being is vital if you want to keep your people happy and productive – and retain valued members of your team. But this kind of culture must be supported from the top down – so to ensure it works properly, managers must be on board.

What the research says

And yet in recent CIPD research [CIPD Community: New tools to help you develop managers to support employee well-being and engagement, 22 Mar 2017], it appeared that less than half of the surveyed HR professionals believed that their company’s line managers had indeed bought into the importance of their staff’s well-being.

On the back of this research, the CIPD has teamed up with Affinity Health at Work and a number of research partners to come up with a selection of tools aimed at giving managers the tools and skills they need to ensure the well-being of their teams – called the Maturity Model [CIPD: Developing managers for engagement and well-being, 21 Feb 2017]

Being the best

Working on employee engagement and well-being is key to becoming a great company to work for. Every year, the Sunday Times Best Companies lists reveal which companies and not-for-profit-organisations are the best to work for.

And it’s not just for the blue chips and global giants – this accolade is something that all companies can work towards, whatever their size. It’s an aim that will reap its own rewards in terms of employee productivity and retention. There are eight specific segments to be considered – including leadership, how employees relate to their managers, and the level of engagement they have with their company. How staff feel about pressure at work and their life/work balance, their satisfaction with pay and benefits and how their growth within their job/career is managed are other vital criteria.

Here at Embrace HR we work with a number of SME’s to help them address these eight important areas as part of the ‘Best Companies’ programme. Take a look here to find out more: www.b.co.uk/factors/ [Best Companies: The 8 factors of workplace engagement]

Taking it from the top

These things need to start at the top though, so the maturity model, mentioned earlier, which can help those involved in people management identify where an organisation is at in terms of management development, is really useful in helping to bring you up to speed.

Once you have assessed where your company currently sits within the maturity model – at the lower end for instance (little or no competence) – you can work on the required processes to achieve the next level, and ultimately aim for the lofty heights of level 3 – competence.

So to use the maturity model, you would evaluate your company’s approach and current leadership development offering to work out what level you were starting at.

For instance, at level 2, your managers receive some support to develop their management skills, and the company culture and policies support effective management development.

You can start assessing your team and making plans to bring your managers to the next level in order to increase employee engagement and well-being by downloading the report and maturity model here [CIPD: Developing managers for engagement and well-being, 21 Feb 2017].

If you would like to discuss this subject further and learn how Embrace HR can help your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 07767 308717 or contact us here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Embrace HR Aylesbury People working

Do you value your staff above all else…?

Is your organisation a People Company? Does it put the success and well-being of its staff at the top of its dream board? And would your staff say this is true?

If so, congratulations, you truly have a People Company!

So what exactly is a People Company?

As we have already stated, it’s an organisation where the staff are highly valued, and where the management know that they need to help their people to develop in order to grow the company. Not only do the company’s leaders believe that, but their staff will know that they are important and valuable to the organisation. In return, these staff will value their place in the company and work to the best of their ability to help the organisation succeed.

One of the most vital factors is that employees actually believe that you, as an organisation, are people-oriented – which means the company’s actions must support this point of view.

The importance of the HR department

To keep and retain the best people, you must take on a proactive role, ensuring that staff are engaged, which in turn will increase levels of productivity. You need to be ahead of the game to succeed, to recruit the right people, to develop their skills, and to keep them on board.

To do this, HR must ensure that it is focusing on the people who work in the organisation. It means automating the processes it can, in order to let its HR team focus on what they are skilled at – getting the best out of the staff.

The importance of automating routine processes

Making it easy to do many HR tasks automatically and online makes sense. For instance, if your staff can book their own holidays using an online system, that’s a routine job that a member of the HR team doesn’t need to handle. If managers can book appraisals and other people-managing tasks online, yet again, it’s a job an HR person doesn’t have to be involved in.

And a new job title has emerged as this trend continues – Chief People Officers. They are likely to appear in the kind of forward-thinking organisations that always spring to mind, such as Google – but even the Cabinet Office has one in the shape of Rupert McNeil [GOV.UK Rupert McNeil] – providing “professional leadership on a range of people issues, including talent, capability, inclusion, capacity, pay and employee deal, performance, employee relations, culture and behaviours.”

It’s all about the experience

However, there’s more to being a People Company though – you need to ensure that your staff are being offered engaging working experiences throughout their time with you. It starts with the recruitment process – companies now must market their own brand to would-be employees, to ensure they attract the best possible candidates.

Finding out about your new staff during the recruitment process is vital – understand them and you’ll get to understand what drives them and what will make them want to stay within your company and succeed.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 07767 308717 or send an email.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Embrace HR Aylesbury Satisfied employees

From a rather way out suggestion from a Swedish politician, to some rather more reserved suggestions – there are plenty of ways you can make your workplace a happier place!

HR professionals must have been left reeling in Sweden after a politician suggested that sex breaks in the workplace would be good for the physical and mental health of employees! The vote on his proposal is due in the spring, so we will look forward to seeing the results…

In the meantime, it is worth looking at how you can keep your employees happy in more conventional ways. After all, we all know how ensuring your workforce is content can result in better productivity for any company. It also encourages your people to stay with you, cutting back on time and resources spent on recruiting and training new staff.

Work/Life Balance

We are certainly not suggesting that you introduce conjugal breaks, but ensuring that your staff have a healthy work/life balance will help them maintain healthy relationships outside of work. And people who are in happy, healthy relationships tend to work better and be more focused, which can only be of benefit for your organisation. Considering policies that allow flexible working and discouraging a workplace culture of outside-hours working will also help.

When it comes to relationships at work, you need to consider whether you have some sort of Romance Policy in place, and what needs to happen should romances between colleagues flourish – according to reports around 15% of people meet partners at work, so it’s something that needs to be addressed by HR. I have written about this subject before.

Employee Benefits

A study in the Journal of Labor Economics in October 2015 found that happy employees generated about 12% more work than others, so it really is worth spending the time to ensure your staff are content, especially if you consider that research by employee benefits and perks company Perkbox found that 30% (that’s 6.5 million!) of UK workers are unhappy at work and would move jobs for better benefits.

A massive 69% said company perks and benefits were important to their overall satisfaction and more than a quarter pointed out that lack of reward and recognition for good work was their main grievance at work.

Recognition & Praise

Recognising and acknowledging good work and effort is not hard to do – encourage your managers to praise on a daily basis where it is due – and make sure that it is widely known that recognition can come in several forms, whether verbally, by email or for more major achievements using a more public vehicle such as company newsletter or intranet.

Holiday Entitlement

Finally, while it is still summer – though we think someone may have forgotten to tell the weather – do remember that it is vitally important to have a break. Managers should not only encourage their staff to take at least one long break, rather than lots of odd days, but should also plan in advance for cover and ensure there is a sufficient handover. This will help your staff to go away without fear of being contacted while they are on holiday – and also ensure that the remaining staff members don’t end up doing two jobs while their colleague is away. More advice on this here.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

T: 07767 308717 or send an email.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Embrace HR Aylesbury Fit and healthy

This is part two of our wellbeing series. You can read our previous blog on how vital holidays are for a healthy workplace here.

As we head into summer, health and fitness come to the fore. We all start to feel more energised once the sun shines, and are more inclined to eat healthily, get out in the fresh air and do a bit more physical activity.

In the second part of a three-part series on wellbeing, this month we look at how employee health, wellbeing and engagement lead to organisational success.

“There is substantial evidence showing that employee health, well-being and engagement are important for organisational success” CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development

The Research Insight from which the above is taken states: There is substantial evidence showing that employee health, well-being and engagement are important for organisational success. If employees are in poor health and/or disengaged, there are potentially significant risks for their employer, such as: costs associated with sickness absence, presenteeism (employees present at work, but not performing because of health problems) and employee turnover, and the legal or reputational risks associated with employees taking a case to an employment tribunal or other litigation. Conversely, where an employer looks after the health and well-being of the workforce and engages employees, they can expect positive gains, including improved performance and productivity.

Holidays

We may be off work, but how many of us are, in effect, just away from our desks? The rise of smartphones and other portable devices means that even if we’re on the other side of the world, we are likely to see work-related emails and posts – and of course more likely to engage, even while we sit by the pool!

In a Harris poll of 2000 UK employees conducted for jobs review site Glassdoor last year, 51 per cent admitted to doing some work while on holiday. Of those employees who worked on holiday, 11 per cent said they were worried about getting behind with their workload; 10 per cent said were hoping for a pay rise; and even more worryingly – 6 per cent feared they would lose their job.

Creating a culture where employees either can’t or won’t switch off does nobody any favours. In the UK, workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks (28 days) paid holiday a year – a guideline intended to ensure their health and wellbeing. Workers who are always ‘on the job’ are more likely to fall prey to stress-related illness.

Employers can also risk falling foul of employment regulations, as staff who are ‘on call’ like this are not properly on holiday, and guidelines on working hours and holiday entitlements could be breached.

Productivity

According to research by Towers Watson (Fairhurst and O’Connor 2010), the happiest and most productive employees are those that enjoy both high levels of wellbeing and high levels of engagement. An employee who has a high level of engagement but whose wellbeing is not taken care of may be very productive, but is more likely to leave an organisation or simply burnout.

Those with high levels of wellbeing, but a lack of engagement, are likely to stay with the organisation for a long time, but are less likely to be committed to the company’s goals.

You may like to download and read a copy of their related strategy article: Employee Well-Being: Taking Engagement and Performance to the Next Level.

So, to keep your staff at their most productive, you need to take care of both their wellbeing and their engagement levels – and ensuring that they take ‘proper’ holidays is one way you can do this.

Three ways you can help staff take a proper break:

  • Ensure an appropriate handover to the staff who remain occurs before they go away.
  • Insist that texts or emails are only sent for very urgent matters.
  • Set up phones and emails with an out-of-office message and divert emails and calls to another member of staff for the duration of the holiday.

If you need clarity regarding holiday entitlement for your staff, or on any of the other points above, please do get in touch. Email us or phone Cecily on 07767 308 717.

Embrace HR Limited, based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, helps SMEs who do not have their own HR departments, or those who need HR support from time to time.