How workplaces all over the world are coping

How workplaces all over the world are coping

by | Jul 9, 2020 | Resilience and Equanimity |

Much like the general state of the world at the moment, the only thing we’re seeing for sure in GLWS-land is a lot of inconsistency and variety emerging in people’s experience and needs, with a high degree of complexity and extreme perspectives, and a feeling that we’re on the brink of seismic shifts and a resetting of equality, inclusivity, diversity and wellbeing.

To illustrate this, here  are some insights from conversations  I’ve been having across different corners of the globe. I hope you find they give an interesting perspective and a useful benchmark for your own observations.

I’ve been struck by the honesty and vulnerability in the sharing of their pain points, as individuals and as companies. Where the conversations resulted in any brilliance or epiphany, I’ve provided you with a quick synopsis of those too.

While all true stories, I’ve done a mash-up to protect client confidentiality.

 

“The cracks are beginning to show.”

From an international utilities company headquartered in London: 

“Audrey, can you help us keep an eye on and support how our leaders are coping – we’re worried about the strain they are under, this crisis just keeps on going, there’s no respite, it’s been relentless and the cracks are beginning to show. 

 

We’re seeing the exec team and the layers under them starting to get terse and blame one another; there’s some conflict simmering and playing out badly across the business –  it’s not how things usually are – we’ve always been a very nice place to work with lots of support and collaboration at the top and across our different divisions until now, but I think it’s because everyone is exhausted and there’s none of the informal down time or catch-ups that there used to be. 

 

We know many of them are working round the clock, constantly pivoting from whatever BAU was and now needs to become, simply to keep the business going and help support their teams. Now we’re also leaning on them quite heavily to review strategy and look for the opportunities and how our vision needs to change over the longer term. 

 

There’s another very specific thing we’re seeing them struggle with that I’d like to ask you about – would you be able to run a short skill-building session on helping them to talk about grief and anxiety with their teams? Sadly, many have staff in their teams who have either become infected themselves, or who have loved ones in isolation and now we’re seeing a growing number of employees who have lost someone close to them. It’s becoming more common, and tragically we have also now lost 3 employees of our own this month.

 

We’re not equipped to deal with this – we’re a company of engineers at heart, all very practical and unemotional, but we’re all feeling it. I think our best leaders are feeling they have to be pseudo-counsellors or psychologists, but they aren’t confident about how to do this without making matters worse.  

 

Generally, I’d say our employees appreciate they’re the lucky ones, they at least have secure jobs and incomes when so many don’t – but with that gratitude comes a whole range of other more challenging thoughts and emotions – it’s certainly bringing new meaning to ‘survivor syndrome’. Guilt and despair at seeing others suffer is an issue, people just don’t know how to process it and no-one’s really talking about it, at least not openly.

 

We’re seeing the demand for EAP go through the roof and that’s telling us we need to offer more support earlier to our people at all levels, that helps prepare them and gives them constructive coping strategies and techniques rather than waiting for them to become so distressed they inevitably need clinical support.

 

Finally Audrey, the last issue we’re on high alert for and getting worried about, is that we’re anticipating burnout and exhaustion to really kick-in soon. Our leaders have been running on adrenalin for months, cortisol levels must surely be shot, the novelty factor and first rush of pulling together in a crisis has well and truly worn off, and we’re unfortunately now bracing ourselves for a spike in inpatient psych admissions before very much longer.

 

We generally have such a strong, capable and committed executive leadership team and thousands of resilient managers across the world, but… we know everyone has their limits and we’re increasingly apprehensive about how close we are to reaching those. 

 

What we need help with is getting back on the front foot while it’s hopefully not too late.” 

 

Audrey’s recommendation: 

In this scenario,  immediate relief and longer term capability building needs could be met via delivery of an individual executive wellbeing and support program, inclusive of the GLWS wellbeing evaluation  to accurately identify individual specific vulnerabilities, dysfunctional coping strategies and areas of risk. These should be supported  by a series of virtual check-ins designed to provide tailored wellbeing, mental health and resilience coaching from external experts, to ensure personalised wellbeing development plans are implemented and prioritised.

At a group level,  the individual one-to-one work could then be supplemented with a series of expert facilitator-led peer support webinars, using insights from the aggregated and de-identified company GLWS wellbeing profiles to call out and address identified  ‘hot-spot’ wellbeing risks across the business and various leadership teams. These webinars would become a designated safe forum for leaders to acknowledge their concerns and the pressures they are under. Together they could discuss what they need in the way of support and organisational changes, using robust data and proven practical strategies underpinned by the GLWS resources, supplemented by experts in the field.

 

“If things don’t pick up soon, we will have to let more staff go.”

From a leadership development consulting firm in London:

“Things are horribly quiet here Audrey. 

 

We’ve already permanently laid 20% of our people off, and the rest of us have taken pay cuts and gone down to 3 or 4 days a week.  (Although actually I’m still working 5 days and more because I end up spending so much of my own time out of official hours doing one to one check-ins with each of my team, some of whom I’m really worried about). As a business, we’ve been pivoting like mad and pushing out lots of free or low cost webinars online, but we can’t keep doing that for ever –  if things don’t pick up soon, we will have to let more staff go. 

 

We’re all bracing for it.  

 

It’s such a crying shame, as we know we could make a real difference to our clients at this time, if only they would let us continue to work with their leaders – they’re crying out for help on how to manage stress and lead for radical change in extreme times, but unfortunately a lot of the programmatic work we had in train has been put on hold indefinitely.  Just at the time I feel they need it more than ever. 

 

As business psychologists and executive coaches, I feel so strongly that our time should be now but we’re seeing a lot of clients slash their budgets rather than hold their nerve and trust in the ROI. I tell you, it must be a very good and lucrative  time to be a clinical psychologist in the UK – it’s the B2C market that’s thriving over here – as companies fail to support their leaders, these same leaders are unravelling in the privacy of their own homes and with their virtual therapists. 

 

But it’s so frustrating because as an occupational psychologist, I’d say companies are not yet switched on to how much they need our profession!  We should be at the table helping organisations, teams and individuals – redesigning roles, crafting workplaces of the future that attend to psychological as well as physical and productivity needs, managing  cultural, performance and burnout risks and re-igniting the role and purpose of the office and teams in a pandemic and post-pandemic world. We have so much we could be doing that would have a huge impact on employees’ sustainability, engagement, ability to handle stress and improve their overall wellbeing, satisfaction and happiness levels – even in such difficult times as we are living in. 

 

I think it will come in time, we’ve seen our more progressive and sophisticated clients begin to restart conversations about more than immediate tactical responses to leadership development and want to do something deeper about wellbeing. One of the most exciting projects we have won this month is to create a leadership capability framework where the client wants to see leading for wellbeing and sustainability as a threshold competency, so I’m hopeful.”

 

Audrey’s advice:

You’re fighting a good fight!  And there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Keep engaging and educating corporate clients about wellbeing and mental health being a complex challenge where deep expertise and insights can be used to create highly effective solutions. Just as they bring in tax or M&A experts for certain challenges, now is the time to bring in workplace psychologists and specialists in deep systemic cultural and wellbeing change practices.

I don’t think that the resistance being experienced is because corporates and their Exco’s aren’t interested or don’t care, I think it’s just they don’t know what they don’t know.  In May 2020,  the Australian Financial Review ran a headline that read Is the work from home honeymoon over?and this week, they elevated wellbeing’s  importance as a leadership and business imperative to new levels with  “Employee wellbeing could define post-pandemic leadership”.

Personally, I’m working hard to reframe  requests for what I’m inclined to judge as tick-a-box transactional  wellbeing fixes (that won’t work!) as an opportunity to step up my influence and skills as a psychologist and wellbeing expert. Sure, it can be frustrating but I am hopeful we’re on the brink of helping organisations break out of these old mindtraps about wellbeing.

I think there’s a collective responsibility we have to lean more heavily into  challenging their faulty assumptions when we see them, and to go back to the basics of identifying client pain points and really listen to help craft solutions that will deliver immediate benefit, relief and – over time – a clear ROI.

I also firmly believe one of the most important keys here is for  leaders to have their own epiphany and lived experience of the importance of  higher levels of knowledge and understanding about wellbeing and mental health and to  step-up their own levels of self-care. Only then will they be ‘fit to lead’ in terms of having enough credibility, belief and capability to successfully embed wellbeing as a systemic priority.

Gosh, am I ranting?  Sorry. One last thing on this topic of the importance of upskilling leaders  and helping them approach wellbeing as a complex dynamic  organisational challenge  – isn’t now a really good time for L&D to be reviewing and developing the next generation of leaders, and the skills and capabilities that are going to come to the front, as well as ensuring there’s plenty of accessible and high quality offerings around stress management and wellbeing?

A quick plug: If you’re already accredited in GLWS, please keep your eye out for details of our free short course that will hit your inbox in the next week or so. I’ll personally take you through how to position wellbeing as a strategic issue and how to develop a value proposition for incorporating wellbeing into any coaching, training, development, leadership or team support solutions. Watch this space!

“I’ve felt lonelier since coming back than I did working from home.”

From a global professional services firm analyst in New York:

“Audrey, I’m reeling. Coming back to the office has been much harder than when we closed down.People are genuinely fearful of infection, and I’ve certainly not loved resuming my 3-hour commute at any level. 

 

I think it’s only the extreme extroverts and those with very small living quarters or difficult home circumstances who have relished coming back. And when we get to the office, things are plain weird, everyone is wary of one another and no-one really knows how to behave. 

 

I’ve actually felt lonelier since coming back than I did when we were working from home.”

 

“We are excited about finally taking a stand.”

From a financial services company in New York:  

“We’re lucky – our core business is solid, we’re in a good position because of how diversified we are and how we’ll run we are now as a business in comparison to the pre GFC era. But watching the rest of the country go through what we were first to experience is awful, especially now that we’re all bracing for recurring waves indefinitely. I think it’s gradually dawning on us that we need to reinvent what leadership in this world looks like. 

 

The head of our firm has been extraordinary – she has been proactive in acknowledging these are uncertain times, complex times while at the same time saying our firm is choosing to respond positively and with optimism about creating a more equal and sustainable future for all. She’s ensuring there’s something that binds us all that’s positive, and we are excited about finally taking a stand and bringing about the systemic change in society that in the past people would have said has got nothing to do with being a finance business.

 

We’ve communicated a new purpose that has everyone excited. Now, we just need to make sure we find a way of helping our people adjust and create new rhythms and ways of working that they can sustain. 

 

Personally, I know I struggle with stopping work – it brings out the worst in my perfectionistic, workaholic tendencies. My work is always there, and there’s always more I can do – especially when I’m passionate about creating a better world.

 

We’ve been running a series of podcasts featuring employees at all different levels of seniority in the firm and creating a space for voices from different offices and different circumstances to be heard – it’s been important, honest work. Nobody is glossing over how hard this has and continues to be, but we make sure people share some of the upsides there have been and what they’ve been doing that’s helped them to cope. It’s good to hear others’ real-life experiences, warts and all.”

 

“Executive teams on the brink.”

Singapore – global talent management consultancy:

“We urgently need to overhaul our service offerings to meet the market; we need to include an evaluation and development plan for all CEOs and their executive teams that incorporates wellbeing and mental health – boards are becoming increasingly anxious about CEOs losing the plot.

 

There have been a few high-profile instances of unhinged leaders wreaking havoc on the market and employees, where their drive, conviction, determination and passion which [once viewed so favourably] have been their undoing. Passion can be destructive, perfectionism can be a company’s undoing, the need for control can stifle innovation and make it very psychologically unsafe for those around these leaders to speak up with divergent views. 

 

In a world where it’s all about divergent thinking, constant adaptive change, inspiring and uniting others, it’s the CEOs who are themselves not always centred, grounded, balanced or stable in their thinking who are the ones boards are most anxious about and who are the ones driving their organisations into the ground, usually unwittingly and with the best of intentions. I mean, how can you exercise good judgement on behalf of an organisation’s shareholders if you are in constant ‘fight or flight’, under-slept and over-wired yourself? And that’s what the boards we are working with are seeing – executive teams on the brink. There’s at least one CEO we know of who has mandated his team gets together every Saturday 7am to 12 noon. It might work for him, but the lack of respect for his team’s personal lives and commitments and the annihilation of all boundaries is backfiring badly. There’s mutiny afoot.

 

We’re being asked to assess CEOs for some kind of early warning signals and red flags, and to put in place evaluations and regular check-ups. Obviously, boards don’t need to know what the specific concerns are, just that there is due care and process in place to proactively manage these non-financial risks. I expect how CEOs and executives are able to demonstrate high levels of self-care and a commitment to their own wellbeing is soon going to become as de-rigeur as medicals have been for the past thirty years.

 

We’re really looking forward to exploring GLWS in this context and can see its value in addressing the NFR aspects of leaders’ performance and the working culture and environment they create.”

 

Audrey’s thoughts:

Certainly worth worrying about – and something we’ve covered before here on the blog. And there’s a great article here from Stanford Business school flagging these same concerns, and that was two years ago, so we can only imagine how much more pronounced these concerns are now.

I do think we need to re-evaluate the power of sustainable, balanced, steadying leaders who don’t keep trying to sprint what is surely going to be years more of back to back marathons. As Simon Sinek discusses, the whole point of being in business is to be in it on an infinite basis. The best leaders don’t bring a ‘win/lose’ mentality, they bring a ‘how do we stay in the game for the long haul’ mindset. In the future, I think one of the clinchers of success is going to hinge on leaders having a strategy of sustainability and renewal – and that needs to start with self-care and personal wellbeing.

My suggestion to this consulting client was that they create a brand new ‘wellbeing, mental health and sustainability’ service line offering for CEOs and their teams, with the GLWS as the cornerstone tool used to deliver a confidential assessment that will resonate and have credibility with senior executives, augmented by check-ups, risk management and wellbeing support services.

It means they will be able to provide  these leaders a high (virtual) touch standard of care while maintaining 100% confidentiality of personal data. They’ll also be able to put in place wellbeing development processes for an entire intact Exco team, using the high level de-identified and aggregated GLWS data to monitor and address cohort specific red-flag risks. That should help boards feel a bit happier!

For the executive search arm of the business, we’re exploring how to use GLWS as part of their approach to onboarding and candidate care. One idea is to offer GLWS to new hires at 3 and 9 months after starting. And for unsuccessful applicants they could offer GLWS and a debrief as a sort of consolation prize; a demonstration of exceptional candidate care and to assist with optimising their performance, wellbeing and happiness longer-term.

 

“We’re not just going to talk about wellbeing and mental health.”

From a top-tier advisory firm in Sydney :

“We’ve committed to our staff and partners that we’re not just going to talk about wellbeing and mental health, we’re going to actually invest in it and in them. Every firm in this market appears to be saying to their people that their wellbeing and mental health is a top priority, but few firms seem to be backing this up with meaningful support. Employee pulse checks are showing that concerns about mental health and wellbeing are going in the wrong direction the longer this pandemic continues.

 

Even before Covid, we were already concerned about  employee and leaders’ stress levels – I think it’s kind of been lost in the pandemic that mid-last year WHO called out another pandemic i.e. one of rising employee stress levels and burnout the world over. Now with working from home and the bumpy return to work transition that we’re currently going through, we know a lot of our professionals are really struggling to know how to switch off and stop work – the temptation is just to keep on going either because work is always there under the same roof when working from home, or because you’re fearful your colleagues might be being more productive than you – so it’s driving this insidiously competitive and insecure work environment across teams.

 

The reality is some practices have been decimated and others have boomed, and that’s a lot for us to respond to as a firm and individually.

 

Anyway, we think we’ve worked out why most employers are not doing much that’s really making a difference to employees’ wellbeing and we think we can deliver real  benefits to both employees and the business if we do things differently. 

 

It’s not so much about us keeping hold of employees, because obviously the labour market isn’t anywhere near as tight as it has been in years. For us, it’s about us doing all that we can to help our people perform, feel and stay at their best and we recognise everyone is in a different boat, so there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach that’s going to work for everyone. Cost sensitivities are one reason most employers aren’t doing much and while we’re certainly no different in that regard, we’re not really seeing this spend as discretionary – we think it’s essential to stop people unravelling in the context of so much change and uncertainty, and we know it’s often our top performers and highest achievers who fall furthest and hardest when faced with a very real prospect of failure. 

 

We’re well regarded in our market for being progressive thought leaders, so for us to continue delivering to this reputation we need to help our people learn news ways of collaborating, thinking, connecting and working. I think we’ve worked out that wellbeing is a very individual and subjective thing and each one of our employees’ needs differs according to their unique work and life circumstances and so it’s really hard for firms to know what or how to help. 

 

One of our clients recently spent $25,000 on sending their employees fruit baskets and candles – nice, but a completely ineffectual gesture. It’s pure madness!

 

The client’s solution: 

“What we’ve decided to do is offer our top 50 leaders across Australia a personalised executive wellbeing program (which isn’t nearly as expensive as you might think) and we’re working hard to engage them and teach them about what better self-care looks like for them within the context of their own lives.

 

We’re also switching them onto their importance as wellbeing role-models  and the impact of their leadership on others’ quality of wellbeing – how they behave, what they say, do and prioritise has a huge impact on their team’s wellbeing.

 

We’ve already done a pilot using the GLWS with the first 10 partners, the members of our leadership team, and it’s been a massive hit. We know that although we’re spending the dollars on partners  and not directly on employees that it could be a slightly ‘off’ optic, but we also know perhaps the biggest driver of our employees’ wellbeing is how the partner(s) they work for treats them. Even from the small pilot,  staff have been  noticing and feeling the benefits from having partners who have become more conscious of their wellbeing shadows and  more deliberate and purposeful in how they ask about and support team wellbeing; they’re generally just more effective and capable at leading and embedding a culture of wellbeing. We’re excited to be rolling out the program.”

 

“I sobbed in the foetal position as I listened to my colleagues present.”

A female senior executive leadership team member in a Melbourne-based international insurance business:

“Honestly Audrey, I have never felt so alone. While our Exco, especially my CEO and HRD have made it abundantly clear that I’m expected to look out for the wellbeing of everyone  in my team (all 200+of them) , I have to say I don’t feel anyone cares about what things have been like for me. I have four children of primary school age and my partner is an essential worker, so I’ve pretty much been home alone for almost 4 months now as full-time mother, teacher and Exco senior executive. 

 

On my worst day, I gave the children an entire jar of Nutella just to keep them quiet until after I’d presented my paper, and then I muted myself, turned the camera off and sobbed in the foetal position as I listened to my colleagues present theirs. I’m not the only woman on Exco but honestly, I don’t know how anyone is holding it together. 

 

Not every day is bad, and there have been some wonderful upsides of having so much family time together, but I’m exhausted and often feel so much more torn or guilty than when I used to go into the office and there were clear boundaries about when the kids were at school and in after care. Without the usual punctuation marks and routines, my days are just a huge blur. I have zero time to myself, and I feel utterly invisible to my company. 

 

Under the circumstances, I think it’s amazing that I’ve been able to keep going and I really haven’t dropped the ball on anything major, but I am resentful about the amount of energy it’s taken and how drained I’m feeling. 

 

I was going okay until my end of year performance review last week, when the CEO expressed some disappointment about my lack of visibility and leadership on some of the new change initiatives that I apparently haven’t been embracing. It took all my willpower not to quit on the spot, and I think it’s extremely unfair that there haven’t been any obvious accommodations of the lengths most of us are having to go to in order to keep delivering outcomes. And, BTW I had embraced them – in fact, I’d done quite a bit of research and prep – but how would they know? It’s a new change project and no-one was clear about who was supposed to be in charge. I certainly didn’t realise it was me!

 

As I say, I’m fed up continuously being told we are a company who cares about our employees’ health and wellbeing and that I’m responsible for making sure my team’s wellbeing pulse survey results don’t drop, when my lived experience is the exact opposite – I don’t think there have been any adjustments made for senior leaders, certainly no reduction or allowances any drop in personal productivity.  I think they care on paper but haven’t got a clue how much each of us is actually struggling, or what any of it means for managing, recognising or rewarding performance. I don’t like the way I sound these days, I hope I’m not coming over as bitter or defensive. I’m just tired. 

 

I’m planning to stay until after my bonus gets paid out in about two months from now, but then for the sake of my health and my marriage, I’m going to have to take step back and I’m seriously contemplating just quitting – maybe we’ll move to the country, that’s something I’ve been discussing with my close friends who are in a similar boat. 

 

It’s not fair on my partner or kids that they keep on getting the worst of me – I’m cranky, moody and frankly, not very nice to be around and – none of that is their fault.” 

 

Audrey’s coaching solution:

I reoriented the coaching goals for this distressed coaching client of mine so we focussed solely on helping her create more inner and outer calm – a tough ask in this world that continues to be severely disrupted, and in a life that was throwing more than its fair share of challenges her way.

We spent six sessions working on her inner strength and emotional evenness – or, in GLWS terms, her Resilience & Equanimity. In her situation the ability to bend, flex, endure and adapt in the face of adversity – her resilience – was going to be key to her regaining a sense of control.

As you may recall from some of my earlier writing, one thing that tends to make me a tad angry is where organisations blame employees’ inability to cope or label employees as ‘high maintenance’ and in need of ‘resilience training’, when the truer account is that it’s the organisational system or psycho-social environment that is the real underlying problem and root cause.

I felt a bit like this with this coaching assignment, but it was evident that the organisation’s awareness, capacity and appetite to change itself was low and that boosting my client’s resilience was one of the few levers open to us that we could control that would make a positive difference to her ability to cope. We also worked on the ‘Equanimity’ part of her equation, by practising techniques that would help her feel more even within herself, to stabilise her moods and outbursts, to remain grounded and calm on the inside even while ‘bad’ things were happening around her.

We looked at her stress triggers and how being in a state of constant disruption meant she was permanently in ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode – hyper alert and defensive to whatever the next ‘threat’ was to come along. We incorporated elements of neuroscience, specifically the importance of re-educating and controlling her amygdala, and how her mirror neuron system was responsible for spreading bad moods, irritability and general fractiousness through her family – how emotional contagion works and how she could use this knowledge to spread positive vibes with relatively little effort.

We talked about the emotional and behavioural signs of burnout and she self-identified as feeling permanently drained, worn out and emotionally exhausted as well as having much lower than usual confidence and a level of self-doubt and anxiety that was becoming debilitating – none of which had ever been issues previously. She was someone who prided herself on her ability to cope, and so was really overwhelmed by these new powerfully distressing sensations.

I taught her how to activate her parasympathetic autonomous nervous system (or if you prefer the jargon-free version – how to chill out and switch off without feeling guilty). She embraced instructions in belly breathing, mindfulness and various other strategies for recognising and tuning into her feelings and emotions, and how to challenge and control unhelpful thinking, how to respond not react and how to create realistically positive mindsets.

It was a fulfilling and powerful coaching relationship for both of us, and in fact has given rise to a whole new development and coaching series of GLWS solutions now under development – the GLWS Reach Wellbeing program. I’ve taken everything we’ve ever learned about wellbeing – not just Resilience & Equanimity but all aspects (social, existential, mental, load management, boundaries and physical health and all of our research insights) alongside decades of coaching at the coal face, and popped it into a series of self-paced stand-alone coaching model.

See here for more details and to register your interest in a special promotion offer that we’ll be launching soon.

 

“We’ve been astonished by the uplift in some kids’ grades.”

A deputy-principal and head of wellbeing in an independent high school in Sydney:

“One of the positives that’s come out of Covid-19 for us as a school is how some students have unexpectedly flourished. It seems home-schooling where students have more autonomy and less time pressure has really enabled some of our Year 9+ students to perform at a much higher standard. 

 

We’ve seen some ‘C students’ become more engaged and achieve unprecedented high grades. Initially, we suspected it must be tiger-parents pushing kids harder or even doing their work for them! But we’ve had these students back in the classroom long enough now to see their increased confidence and capability levels maintained. 

 

The results have been so startling we are looking at ways of allowing our senior students to choose which days and for which classes it makes sense to come into school, and when it might be better for their productivity and stress management to simply stay at home and work independently. We’ve especially seen teenagers with ADHD, and those less neurotypical in other ways really rise up. 

 

If you’re an anxious teenage girl who doesn’t want to look stupid in front of her friends, sending your teacher an email to ask for an explanation is much more effective and achievable way of learning and seeking clarity. Likewise, if you’re an easily distracted and distractible young adult, being at home with fewer interruptions and opportunities to get side-tracked has been a bonus for your ability to concentrate and focus.  

 

Most teenagers are ‘owls’ and do their best work later at night, whereas the school system generally demand they are ‘larks’ and up early in the mornings. We’ve seen first-hand the benefits for many students of being able to have that extra 2 hours in bed asleep in the morning and it doesn’t bother us or them that they are doing their first lesson in their pyjamas while eating breakfast. 

 

I’d say for these students, doing schoolwork has been a lot less stressful and we’ve been astonished by the uplift in some kids’ grades. The challenges for us (as it is for many employers and organisational life in general) is how we avoid snapping back to the old ways and how we must now ensure we remember and keep the learnings and silver linings from Covid. It’s an exciting time to be an educator.

 

Audrey’s thoughts:

We’re seeing a similar pattern in corporate life – I’ve heard of many examples where senior leaders have been pleasantly surprised by some of their team members’ performance during this time.  There’s strong anecdotal evidence to suggest introverts find working from home less stressful and this lower level of social anxiety has been conducive to better productivity.  Similarly, I’ve heard of adults with ADHD reporting fewer distractions and benefitting from  reduced pressure on their  organisational and time management skills – some employees have been a real surprise package. A superior ability to work independently and churn out better quality and more work when liberated from the shackles of office constraints is giving them a new performance edge, perhaps for the first time ever.  It could be the start of a neuro-diversity and introverts’ revolution!

When schools entrust their students and employers their employees with the freedom and autonomy to work in ways and at times that suit them the best, we can expect engagement, wellbeing and performance outcomes to improve.  I’d love to see students, and employers work hard on creating and embedding a system that brings out the best in everyone and which allows for highly personalised learning and performance pathways.

We’re currently in funding discussions which, if successful, will soon enable us to bring GLWS solutions into high school settings – for students, teachers and potentially even parents. It’ll be 2021 before we see this get off the ground properly, but in the meantime, if you have any connections into high school Principals, Heads of Wellbeing, Boards or State/Federal Departments of Education or Health who might be interested in participating in early research and pilot programs, I’d really appreciate an introduction.

I’ve plenty more stories and interesting scenarios to share, but I’m almost out of puff for today, so let me wrap up as promised with one last good news story, and also the handful of frameworks you might find helpful in your work.

 

So, what’s the good news?

We’re proud to announce that we are now sponsors of the Homeward Bound ground-breaking, global leadership program for women in STEMM. As you may recall from one of our recent posts, our wellbeing tools and methodology have been thoroughly scrutinised – and, we’re delighted to say – more than passed muster within the senior scientific community. Having GLWS now also feature as a core component of this prestigious leadership program is deeply gratifying.

We’re excited to currently have 35 Homeward Bound leadership and wellbeing coaches from across seven different countries going through our brand new GLWS Level 1 e-learning program, allowing them to learn in their own time at their own pace on their path to becoming Certified Practitioners in GLWS so they can use the GLWS survey and suite or Personal and Group reports as an integral component of future Homeward Bound participants’ experiences.

The plan is for GLWS to be used under the supervision of Homeward Bound’s on-board chief psychiatrist on their next Antarctic voyages, at both the individual and group levels to ensure the development of a psychologically safe, constructive environment as well as through their individual leadership coaches to assist in prioritising high levels of self-care and resilience to mitigate the risk of burnout and support optimal performance as leaders and influencers.

 

Four helpful frameworks for better wellbeing conversations

Last but not least, here are four of the wellbeing strategy and leadership tools I’ve developed to assist framing conversations about wellbeing.

  1. Here’s a way of trying to help identify what the organisational challenge, need, opportunity or pain-point is where a good wellbeing solution (preferably ours 😉) will deliver value:
  2. Here’s how we express and facilitate conversations around the complexity involved in trying to improve employee wellbeing – everyone needs to do their bit, and our ‘TOILS’ responsibility framework is a practical way to talk about it.
  3. And here’s my favourite way of getting organisations to ‘go slow and together to go far’ on their wellbeing journey. It helps point them away from the fallacy of quick fixes, and underscores the importance of ‘walking before we run’, of leaders walking the talk and being good role-models by being converts to self-care themselves.
  4. And finally, here’s just one example of what we mean by evidence-based techniques informed by the expertise of organisational psychologists and workplace wellbeing specialists. No fads – this is what leaders have to do to reduce burnout within their teams.

If you like these tools and techniques, they’ve been taken from the foundation course in my soon to be released ‘Reach Wellbeing Series’ designed to allow practitioners, leaders and professionals to deepen their knowledge and skills with proven techniques. 

The series leverages all the research of GLWS and bottles my skills as a coach. 

If you would like to receive more details about ‘Reach Wellbeing’ and our launch promotions offer, please leave your name here. 

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