Tuesday, January 14, 2020

On Staff Wellbeing

This month we're talking about wellbeing. Last week, I told you some of my thoughts about my own wellbeing plan for the year.

Before I turn the blog over, I'm going to tell you the truth. I'm a workaholic. It might be obvious, given a full-time job, consulting practice, and weekly blog. I've thought a great deal about myself. How much of this is healthy? From my own side, I have so much energy, if I don't find plenty to keep my brain busy, I can go awry. But, as a manager, what does it show for my staff?

While I've always encouraged my teams to take time for themselves. I haven't always done this myself. Recently, I've really tried to turn off completely. I sent an email at 6 PM on 12/20 to a contractor. I received an out of office saying that emails received until 1/6 would be deleted. Now, I'm not sure I'd want to make people resend their emails, but the impetus of that out of office was to create a system of sanity when you return from holiday. In many ways, that's the key to wellness and work for me. Make choices that don't make it harder for you in the long run. So, if the pile of emails after vacation is stressful, then find ways not to have that.

This thoughtful approach to work and wellness is at the heart of the blog post for this week from Laura Crossley.


Written by Laura Crossley

Our wellbeing can affect how we feel about our lives, jobs, and relationships. It’s an essential part of us and something that is precious and needs to be cared for. Wellbeing at work can be affected by lots of factors, such as relationships with managers and colleagues, the amount of involvement people have with organizational issues and decision-making, job design and the level of control individuals have over their own work, work demands, and the acceptability of flexible working.

Writing on organizational resilience will tell you that staff wellbeing is important because it helps organizations; staff who feel good perform better, are more willing to go the extra mile, take fewer sick days, and are more likely to stay at an organization in the long-term. These are, of course, all great reasons to support the wellbeing of your staff. However, I’d argue this isn’t just about developing more resilient organizations; surely being nice to colleagues, showing kindness and empathy, and treating people with respect is basic human decency and ethically the right thing to do?

Self-care is important and it’s helpful to know the things we can do as individuals to boost our wellbeing but it’s not good enough to treat colleagues badly and think that’s okay because they can look after themselves. Employers and organizations have a moral and ethical responsibility to support the wellbeing of their staff and (in here in the UK, at least), a legal responsibility too.

So, as well as doing the basics of treating people with respect, what else can organizations do to support and promote staff wellbeing? As a starter, I’d suggest:

  • Put in place effective policies for managing people issues such as grievances and bullying, make sure staff are aware of these policies, and - crucially – ensure the policies are followed if complaints arise.
  • Give staff clear information about how to get wellbeing support inside and outside your organization. It shouldn’t be a chore to find out where to get advice and help.
  • Promote an environment where people feel as comfortable as possible talking about their mental health and how they are feeling.
  • Ensure jobs are reasonable and appropriate and give staff as much control as possible over their work. If you are a natural micromanager, I implore you to please consider the wellbeing of your staff and learn to resist the temptation to oversee every detail of someone’s job.
  • Empower, involve and value staff; ensure they feel comfortable about voicing concerns and include them, where possible, in decision-making. Communicate openly and often.
  • Encourage people to take breaks and holidays. Staff are people, not machines.
  • Cultivate a positive email culture. Do not expect people to respond to you when they are not working.
  • Invest in training for managers to help them manage empathetically and in a people-centered way.
  • Celebrate individual and team achievements and say thank you – it’s really easy and makes a big difference.

These are just some ideas and I’d love to hear what works for you and people in your organization.

We talk a lot in the sector about how the work we do has a positive impact on the wellbeing of visitors and participants. We congratulate ourselves on a job well done. But if your personal and organizational practices are negatively affecting staff wellbeing, I’d say there’s not a lot to celebrate. If we are truly to become a sector that promotes positive wellbeing, staff wellbeing must be made a priority.

Laura is Head of Content at the National Football Museum, Manchester, UK, where she is responsible for overseeing collections, exhibitions, learning and community work. Laura is on Twitter at @lfcrossley

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Wellness and Personal Intentions

This month, the topic is wellness. Self-care is part of wellness, certainly. But wellness is bigger than yourself. In a workplace, everyone’s individual self care impacts the overall wellness of the organization. One person burned out behaviors can start a tidal wave of negativity through an organization. (That said, that burnout is likely a result of poor structures in the org; but that’s a topic for another month.) So, this month, the topic is thinking about wellness individually and how it impacts work.
January is the traditional month for imagining a better you. It’s the time when you focus on good intentions, and then at the first stumble, you start feeling like a failure. It’s a month of high hopes and low vibes.
So, let’s spend this month talking about good intentions but doing away with low vibes. The low vibes comes in part from the arbitrary nature of choosing January 1 as the date for your resolutions.
Time is a construct. January is the beginning of the year as part of an old Roman clerical choice. April 1 had been New Years. Some faiths have New Years in the fall.
Point is: pick a day, and feel free to make it your day to make an intention. But day two is often when the low vibes start. For example, let’s say today I’m gung ho about writing. I’m going to promise myself to write every day. Imagine tomorrow morning I have a crack of dawn flight and then a crazy day of meeting and then family responsibilities and then...Point is, every day is variable. Any one day can foil your plans. If your goal is everyday for a year, you’ve lost a whole year of dreams in two days. But, that’s because you gave yourself very little wiggle room and your intention was huge.
Now wiggle room is tricky. If you hope to do better in the world, you’ve got so much latitude anything will satisfy your goal. As long as you don’t call all your colleagues idiots and cut people off in traffic, you’ve succeeded in your goal.
Huge intentions are also tricky. For some people, they are just the ticket. These are also the people who’ve lived a life of succeeding in tiny goals. Their life is full of positive feedback loops. ‘Write a book this year’ can actually happen for them. I made that intention one year. Before that, I’d written many, many published works. I’d written essays, books, and labels. In other words, I’d trained. And success has trained me. I made a giant intention, but I’d set myself up to succeed.
Setting Goals isn’t like planning an escape room. You’re not trying to set up a system where you have a 99% chance of not doing it. You’re setting up an intention for something you have a likelihood of doing. Pick something where the odds are good but without work not great. If it is something you’ve already done okay, make a huge intention. It will motivate you, and you’ve trained yourself up. If it is new, set up smaller intentions. Like, if you dream of writing a book, set down mini goals: I’ll write 1000 words this week of free writing, say. But notice, my intention above is concrete and achievable. It’s not like the wiggly intention of doing better. It’s also got a bit of wiggle room, in that I give myself one week to write a set of words, rather than giving myself daily targets. Assign yourself this goal every week for two months, and you might have the level of success to give yourself daily word count targets. Or you might decide reading is more your speed than writing. And either answer is okay.
Which brings me to my intention for the year. I’m choosing a single big intention for the year. But I’ve been training up. I spent the last couple years consulting. I worked a lot; and I loved the work I was doing. One year, I decided I needed to get ideas out there, but I didn’t have the money for an editor. (Any reader of this blog can tell ;) ) But I also decided my ideas mattered, and I wouldn’t be hard on myself for typos. I had the best editor in the world at my old job. I just never learned the skills to catch my own mistakes. It irked me at first to have so many typos on my blog. I’m the sort of person who finds typos in The Times in seconds. Then I realized I am no more or less smarter than I was when I had an editor. If I need the ideas out there, I’ll just give myself a break about the typos. They annoyed me when I reread my writing at first. Now a couple years later, I just shrug and fix them. And, my life changed drastically from my blogging. People wanted to hire me. The positive feedback loop proved being gentle on myself was worth it.
With this one practice experience under my belt, this year my intention is to give myself a break in all aspects of my life. I’m going to be honest with myself and shrug off missteps. This is not to say I’ll ignore them, but I won’t ruminate on them. I’ll learn from them and then let go.
I’m choosing this goal because I think it will change how I lead. I hope it will have positive effects on my work and my energy. I guess time will tell.  And then I’ll tell you :)
Personal goals can have big impact on the work place. How you see yourself spills out into the world and workplace? Don’t believe me? Pick a drastic change of attitude at the work day. If you don’t generally smile, spend one day deciding you will smile at everyone you see. Come home and write down how your day went. I did this exactly experiment recently. Not with smiling, bc I’m naturally smiley. I decided to walk slow. It was hard. But when I reflected, I noticed more people approached me to talk. I also realized I noticed more things about my work place. Changing for one day, and a small thing, can have big impact. I’m excited for the impact I’ll feel, and through me, my work place when I spend this year giving myself a break.
What are your intentions for the day, month, year? Share here or on social media.