Hunts and Cambs 01223 233047
Peterborough 01733 553166

Hunts and Cambs 01223 233047
Peterborough 01733 553166

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How to change your workplace culture

 
In today's competitive environment, recruiting and keeping the right people is tough and sought-after staff are making increasingly advanced choices about where to work.  Where high salaries and career opportunities once topped the wishlist of prospective employees, work/life balance is increasingly playing a large part in their decision making process about which employer to work with.  Short commutes, flexible holiday arrangements and wellbeing initiatives are increasingly part of the equation and it is the caring, more supportive organisations with a range of wellbeing initiatives in place who are attracting the best people.  Less stress is the name of the game.
 
As a result, many organisations are looking at wellbeing in the workplace, but those who merely pay lip service to the initiatives and see it as a tick box exercise may find and recruit the best people, but will soon find that the costs of a high staff turnover outweigh any benefits.  Employees rarely go back to an employer where they had a bad experience, but will often return to a good one once they realise that the extra few pounds in their pocket each month is poor compensation for bad management and a toxic atmosphere.  Companies who argue that some employees exploit their goodwill are missing the fact that these are in the minority and that whatever your approach to staff welfare, poor performance must be managed rather than ignored.
 

So what changes should I make?

Culture is infectious!

Try and look at your company culture objectively.  If most people consistently work a 70 hour week, despite being on a 40 hour contract, any new people will observe and slip into the cultural norm.  Whilst this might give you short term gains, staff will quickly develop burnout, feel exploited, work out their hourly rate, and worst of all, not make productive use of the time they are working, instead using the time to bemoan their plight to other co-workers and spread feelings of resentment towards the organisation.  If the managers and sending and expecting replies to emails at 11pm and 5am, staff will feel that their personal time is being invaded.  If managers are dictatorial and dogmatic rather than collaborative, or take credit for the achievements of their staff and blame them for their mistakes, any colleagues promoted to those positions will behave in that way because that is what they have experienced from their managers.

To change the social norms, encourage managers to listen to staff and work as a team to provide solutions to problems rather than imposing new process.  If people feel that they have been part of the solution, they are much more engaed in trying to make it work.  Encourage staff to take breaks, work effectively rather than long hours, and reward achievement.  Encourage a collaborative approach and an open environment where problems can be discussed openly without fear of retribution.  Put in place a structure wellbeing programme to promote good physical and mental health and encourage people to work together to maintain their health in a mutually supportive environment.

 

Redefine Success

Whilst success is seen as reaching the top of the management structure, earning most money, reaping most benefits and stamping on others to get where you want to be, a dog eat dog culture will prevail.  Encourage initiative which promote a kinder, more supportive workplace and strive for happiness.  Allow people to be who they are, provided it doesn't negatively impact others, encourage volunteering and helping others, both at work and as part of a society, and promote healthy living - both physically and mentally.  Redfine success as living authentically, purposefully and healthily and promote the goal of creating a better environment in the workplace.

 

Build a community

If people exist only as individuals they eventually feel isolated and in competition with their colleagues.  Teams need to know each other and understand each other's strengths and weaknesses in order to be able to function effectively.  Difference should be embraced.  Although most research shows that our natural instincts are to surround ourselves with like-linded personalities with a common ethos, team building models all recognise that in order for projects to succeed, a variety of skillsets and approaches are necessary.  A team full of 'completer finishers' will never make any changes or get anything implemented, whereas a room full of plants will conflict and not see projects through to the end.  Encourage teamwork and help people to recognise where they fit and how they contribute.

If new staff are just given a workspace and a job specification and left to achieve their goals independently, they will bring the culture from their old workplace, which is always a bit of a gamble.  People recreate what they already know as it is the path of least resistance, but if this doesn't match with your culture or where you want to be, there will be conflict.  So don't leave it to chance.  When new people join you, assign a buddy who already demonstrates the culture you are aiming for.  Ensure they introduce the new person to all of the specialists, that they know where to go for help and that it's OK to ask for help, and most importantly, ensure that it's more important to be kind, collaborative and supportive than to shine by being selfish, isolated and concerned only with the success of their department.  Introduce the idea of shared goals, company-wide success and humanity.

If we do not actively create the culture we want, another culture will develop on its own, which could be terminally damaging to the reputation and sustainability of your organisation.

 

CCC can help to support your wellbeing programme with general counselling, mental health awareness and stress management programmes.  Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out more.

 

 

World Mental Health Day 2017

World Mental Health Day is a time that has been set aside each year to celebrate and promote global mental health education, awareness and advocacy.  It's an initiative run by the World Federation for Mental Health, a global organisation with members and contacts in more than 150 countries, and the day was first introduced in 1992.

Since then it has focussed on such topics as; the link between mental health and meeting and eating with family and friends, mindfulness, depression and how to take a proactive approach to your personal wellbeing.  This year it takes place on Tuesday 10th October, with the theme Mental Health in the Workplace and is a good opportunity for us all to consider our approach to our own personal mental wellbeing and that of those around us, espeically at work.

 

What's the problem? 

Colleagues often become friends and provide a good support network for those going through emotional distress, but it is the line manager relationship that allows for the official communication between the organisation and the employee.  This is why it is key that your leaders have the right skills and approach to deal with staff who suffer from mental health problems compassionately and effectively.  Getting it wrong can be a distressing and costly mistake for the team and the business.

The line manager relationship is where discussions about personal wellbeing, performance and progress are likely to take place, so it is there that any issues are likely to become apparent.  It is not necessary to be a doctor or therapist to adopt an open and honest approach to reviews and a culture of understanding and willingness to address problems.  

 

What should I do or not do?

First contact is key in distress.  How an initial conversation is handled can affect the ultimate outcome, and it is important to display empathy without making rash promises.  There should be no implication of weakness, incompetence or blame, but a positive hopeful discussion led by the needs of the indivudal.

We all have times when we struggle, and often temporary adjustments can make a huge impact on someone's abiity to cope and to make logical choices to improve their situation.  It an employee feels supported and that an employee truly cares about their welfare, this can vastly improve their loyalty, attitude and ability to perform and succeed in the long term, which can only be a positive outcome for the employer.  Resilience and the ability to manage challenge and change effectively is a key skillset in the modern workplace.

 
 What can I do to help my staff?

Organisations have a duty of care to their staff, which you can help to fulfil by working with Cambridgeshire Consultancy in Counsellling to provide services for those in need.  You may find World Mental Health Day a good opportunity to initiate a conversation about what steps your co-workers could take to provide for their mental fitness.

Our services include:

  • Face to face and telephone counselling on a 121 basis.  Assessment plus 6 sessions on a 'pay as you go' basis
  • Mental health presentations to guide your staff in managing and improving their own mental health
  • Mental health workshops to help line managers take a proactive approach to employee wellbeing, within the parameters of your HR guidelines

For further information about these or any of our other services for organisations, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Cares?

12th-18th June is Carer's Week, when we think about the 6.5 million people (1 in 9) in the UK who are caring for relatives or friends on an unpaid basis because they are elderly, disabled or facing difficult life challenges. 

Who cares for the carer?

3 million of these people also have paid jobs to combine with their caring roles, and many forego full time work, promotions, or even have to stop working altogether to care for those in need.

There are many stresses to consider, and according to research by Building Carer Friendly Communities, over a third of those asked say their employer does not understand their caring work, to not have policies to cover carers, and that they don't feel comfortable talking to their employer about their caring responsibilities.  60% of carers have either reduced their hours or given up their paid jobs to care.  42% say that they struggle financially.

Many feel isolated, as they are unable to lead a fulfilling social life and have little leisure time.  Carers report that they would welcome the opportunity to meet with other carers who understand their plight, but the constraints of caring prevent them from doing so.  Many lose friendships because of a lack of shared experience and opportunity to go out.  Some even start to face their own mental health problems because of overwork and isolation. 

 

So what can employers do to help carers? 

  •      Introduce and promote flexible working where possible.  In most roles, this is workable provided core

                hours are completed

  •      Introduce some paid leave for carers to attend medical appointments or emergencies
  •      Set up and encourage carers to join a Carer's Staff Network for support and sharing of experiences
  •      Ensure that all carers are aware of their rights to request flexible working and time off for emergencies
  •      Ensure that a caring and supportive culture is adopted by line managers and co-workers
  •      Encourage carers to share their stories with colleagues, leading to a more collaborative and

                understanding co-worker culture, preventing resentment

  •      Provide mental health awareness training for carers and other staff facing stress in or outside work

                (click here to find out more)

This will result in a more loyal and collaborative workforce and increased productivity, but could also reduce absence for stress and depression.

 

 Help yourself

Carers also have a responsibility to themselves and to those they care for, to ensure they keep physically and mentally well.  As well as eating healthily, exercising regularly and reducing intake of drugs such as nicotine, alcohol and caffeine, carers should also ensure they find time to reduce their stress levels.  Meditation, mindfulness, yoga and relaxation techniques can all be extremely beneficial and can be practiced at home.  Cultivating friendships with other carers can help to reduce the stress of the burden of care. 

The same study also suggests that many carers are not currently doing this.  Half report a deterioration of their mental health since starting their role as carer and have left a problem to go untreated.  Over a third have physically injured themselves, and the same number only ask for help in an emergency.

When it all becomes too much, counselling can benefit people by helping them to identify their core issues and to support them in taking positive steps to improve their circumstances.  This might include giving them the confidence and skills to speak to their employer about their needs, or to seek help from others.

 

      If you are a carer and need to speak to a qualified professional in confidence, call our nearest reception:

Cambridge 01223 233047         Peterborough  01733 553166 

Both face to face and telephone counselling is available, depending on your preference

 

To find out more about Carer's Week, visit http://www.carersuk.org/?gclid=CPq6z-_RmM0CFQo6GwodWyADkw

 

Workplace Wellbeing makes commercial sense!

It's official - workplace wellbeing makes commercial sense!

A recent study by the World Economic Forum, resulting in their Global Agenda on Mental Health 2014-2016, concludes that a mental health issue is not a lack of morality or of weakness, and outlines how organisations benefit both financially and in terms of economic engagement and motivation when practical steps are taken to support staff through difficulties and proactive measures are implemented to improve staff mental health awareness.

For many years, employers have acknowledged the benefits of promoting good physical health to their workforce, but increasingly, mental health is starting to appear on the agenda.  It's easy to see the effect on work colleagues when someone comes into the office in a bad mood, but it's perhaps less obvious when a colleague is experiencing a slow and gradual decline into a state of depression.

However, the effects are real - not only on the individual concerned, but also on their colleagues; in terms of feelings of impotence (not knowing how to help), of guilt (not being able to help), of anger (if their workload increases because of someone else's lack of productivity or their absence) and in terms of general distraction.  To address these issues, not only benefits not only benefits the affected individual and their line manager, but also all of their colleagues, and potentially, the profitability of the business.

For the small investment of only £50 per counselling session, an employer could avoid weeks of paid absence.

For a one-off fee of £450, a group of staff could learn about the most common mental health problems, how to identify if they are a colleague might be suffering from one of them, and most importantly, action they can take to reduce the effects of and manage such conditions or how to help a colleague in distress.

To find out how CCC can help your business, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Read the full report at:  http://b.3cdn.net/joinmq/7eb7e59295b1ecd263_rgm6iy3yj.pdf