For 2022 perhaps our watchwords for wellbeing could be, as the late Bishop Tutu said: “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”
This means that as well as reactive support such as an employee assistance programme (EAP), we need to look proactively at how we can create an environment in which people are able to thrive. We need training not only for individuals to manage their own mental health and resilience, but also for managers and senior managers to have conversations with individuals in need to understand where and why they are struggling.
Then there is the organisational piece: how do we ascertain what in our organisation is causing people stress?
Is it lack of resources to do their jobs, lack of autonomy or manager support? Is it the ever-increasing workload that they struggle to say no to? Is it a perceived lack of fairness?
Managing wellbeing is not just about providing a series of resources for people, but also about bringing together a coalition of support across the business. A training course or mental health first aiders will have some impact, but it is only by addressing root causes and adopting a full cultural approach that we are likely to impact wellbeing.
When building a wellbeing strategy we will want to consider :
- What reactive measures we have in place when someone is unwell. This might be an EAP, online GP or mental health first aiders; and
- What measures we put in place to prevent them falling ill through work.
When proactively managing wellbeing, we also need to:
- Provide people with resources and training to look after themselves better;
- Provide managers with support to manage wellbeing in their team; and
- Ask questions on a regular basis as an organisation such as what is causing our teams stress?