The Workplace: Jan/Feb 2021

We must not forget each other and the people we work with.

We must not forget each other and the people we work with. And with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of Lockdown Mark III, during the first quarter of 2021 (and beyond), this is going to be oh so very important. We really mustn’t forget.

Care and kindness has been talked about many times – and indeed I’ve written about it many times – but to start 2021 with the same message feels right. Why? Because I believe it is the most important: showing we care and that we want to look after each other.

There will be some lonely people. If I reflect on how I felt in lockdown, it’s a feeling I want to avoid again. The isolation, the entrapment, the suffocation and anxiety associated with being alone (even though my wife and children were ever present).

When founder and board director Paul Goodman asked me how I was, it meant a huge amount. I have thanked him more than once, not just because of the question but because of how he made me feel. If you are thinking about asking your colleagues and friends how they are, go ahead and do it.

Maybe it is the year that every business develops a culture that removes the stigma of asking for help. Stigma reduction through internal events that encourage talking, helping people to call out inappropriate language. There’s loads we can do: the TED talk by Amy Edmondson on ‘Building a psychologically safe workplace’ is a strong 11 minutes and of course there are numerous webinars on workplace resilience.

Psychologist Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) have produced a wonderful short video series on the topic ‘Build Resilience in the Face of Adversity’. It takes about 20 minutes to watch nine short videos and introduces coping mechanisms on how to get through adversity, and importantly how to support others.

Maybe it is the year that every business develops a culture that removes the stigma of asking for help”

I’m part of our Mental Health Support Network at work and Toni who leads our group has enabled open and free conversation on culture, training and what tools are available to help with all feelings associated with mental health and being in lockdown. Interestingly, of the 19 members in our network there are only two men…

This is something we need to change. Men have lower levels of life satisfaction than women, according to the government’s National Wellbeing survey; only 35% of men are referred to NHS talking therapy; there are three times as many men as women die by suicide; and the example list goes on and on. Ask our male friends and colleagues if they are OK – a very simple question.

The first email I received this morning following Boris’s announcement was from our Network to the business, asking if anyone needed some support. Their message? Being away from friends, family, colleagues and people in general can create a basis for anxiety. They wanted the business to know that we are here to look after each other or at the very least for people to know there is someone there. I think we should all be doing this.

I, for one, no longer must rely on Paul asking me the question...

Guy Hayward – redefining the modern workplace CEO, Goodman Masson

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