Sally Henderson
Powerful change from the inside out

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How Focussing On Workplace Wellbeing Can Lead To Greater Business Success

What does the modern workplace look like to you? A highly pressured balance between work and home life? Constantly pedalling at full speed to keep up with fast change? An expectation to be available 24/7? Increasingly challenging markets? Subsequent fear of failure? 

All of which can quickly lead to emotions such as stress, fear, isolation and anxiety. Downright damaging to both your wellbeing, the wellbeing of your team and limiting the successes of your ambitions as a senior leader. 

Following Mental Health Awareness Week last week, the focus of this June Edition Leadership Lens is around what we can do as senior leaders to improve workplace wellbeing. As well as my own thoughts, which I've included below, I've also been delighted to gain insight and inspiration from:

ANGUS CROWTHER: Founding Partner of newly formed Alchemists, about their pioneering strict policy of refusing to conduct pitches during holiday periods, as well as other initiatives to change the way pitches are managed to better suit the modern workplace. 

GEOFF MCDONALD: Mental Health Campaigner and inspirational driving force behind Minds@Work,about his mission to eradicate the stigma of mental health within the workplace. How senior leaders can overcome their own issues of mental ill-health that they may be experiencing and what they can do to help their teams open up to their own emotions, creating a happier, healthier workplace. 

Five questions with Angus Crowther, Co Founder of Marketing Advisory Partner, Alchemists

Angus, former Managing Partner at Oystercatchers, has this year co-founded Marketing Advisory business, Alchemists, focused on getting the best results for clients and agencies.

With policies including the refusal to conduct pitches over holiday periods in order to maintain a happier work/life balance, read on for Angus' insight on the inspirations behind doing things differently. 

1. What was the driving factor behind your pitching policy?

We asked the top agency CEOs for feedback on our proposition and model and this was the most common complaint. Too many half terms or holidays get destroyed because a pitch suddenly is called with no regard for the impact this has on people’s lives. If the client knew that the children’s mother or father was not there with their kids then they’d think twice. We will raise this with the client and protect the agencies where we can.

It’s even worse when a pitch is called just before Christmas. Parents need to be present and give attention to their children and not be thinking about work or looking at their phone. It is a diversity issue for sure as Mums will think twice about coming back to work if they know they be asked to ruin their family life on a regular basis.

Click here to read the full Q&A with Angus.

Q&A with Geoff McDonald of Minds@Work 

Geoff was inspired to set up Minds@Work following the loss of a good friend, who couldn't talk about their mental ill-health and as a result, sadly took their own life.

Geoff, having also suffered from mental ill-health, was able to open up and as a result, overcame it, highlighting the importance of making mental health a commonly talked about issue. When more and more leaders open up about their own suffering, the stigma in the workplace is broken down, resulting in businesses whereby people feel supported. 

Why do you think the issue is so rife in today's workplace?

As we know, mental health is very complex and doesn't always relate to the workplace. However, workplaces can be too full on. There's no time to recover. Good relationships are not built and there's no real sense of purpose or meaning. With 24/7 technology, there's no time to look after our emotional, physical and mental selves. 

There's also a fear of asking for help. A CEO talking about his or her struggles might worry about appearing weak and subsequently losing their job, especially with a board looking over them. We at SHHQ strongly agree that this fear needs to be eradicated. 

What can senior leaders do to help themselves and support their teams?

- Find a mentor, find a trusted family member and open up. Get the support you need.

- Once your own health is looked after, find ways to maintain health to bring energy, passion and enjoyment in the workplace. A leader that excludes energy is more likely to inspire. 

Show your love. We all know what we'd do if it was a family member struggling, we wouldn't hesitate to show our love. Do the same at work. We all need more love in the workplace today. 

If you can have a conversation, anything is possible. Leaders must create an environment whereby there's no stigma, resulting in a healthy, energised workforce.

If you're struggling and need help, don't let your mental ill-health overpower you; please visit here to find resources that can help you.

My thoughts?

Having heard the pioneering policies that both Alchemists and Lab have implemented in their workplaces (click here to find out about Lab's four day week policy via SE1EP1 of my podcast, The Leadership Series) it's great to see that positive steps are being taken within modern workplaces practices to support the improvement of workplace wellbeing. 

Taking my experience as a Change Mentor, here are some suggestions as to how you can improve the wellbeing of your workplace today:

1. Boundaries. Learn to switch off and give your people permission to not be Demi-Gods.

2. Follow up. When I was a Headhunter, far too often the reason great talent left a business before they really needed to was because promises for development were given in reviews and feedback sessions but these promises were not kept. This is the quickest way to break emotional connections.

3. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. No one says this better than the great Brené Brown - click here to view her TED Talk.

4. Be honest and open with your team. Create a culture whereby people feel comfortable to open up, sharing experiences and emotions, strengthening bonds and creating a culture whereby employees feel supported. Gemma Greaves , CEO of The Marketing Society, highlighted this during our chat for The Leadership Series Podcast:

Sarah, my Commercial Director, and I have the most uncomfortable conversations, sometimes they get quite emotional, if they need to, but we don’t hide things from each other. We’re honest, and sometimes that’s uncomfortable, and sometimes that’s challenging, but  for me, that’s the only way to do it.’

Read more from my chat with Gemma here...

As always, if I can help. Just give me a shout!

sally henderson