COVID-19 Mental Health People at Work

NOW focus on wellbeing at work

By Fiona Bugler • 21st April 2020

Wellbeing at work isn’t a box to tick, it’s about putting people first, it’s about re-defining our bottom line.

Here in the UK, yesterday’s Sunday Times, featured Humphrey Cobbold, the boss of Pure Gym’s, ‘Diary of survival’. Pure Gym’s revenue ceased at lockdown going from £500m of revenue to zero. Cobbold made a choice, he chose to put his people first, ‘We’ve got a zero-redundancy policy — our objective is to get everybody to the other side of this abyss,’ he told the Sunday Times, adding: ‘There will be many people coming out of this saying, “I should take greater care of my health and wellbeing than I did in the past”’.

On the same page, in the same section another article quotes Will Gosling from accountancy firm Deloitte saying: ‘We’re going to see long-lasting change that’s driven largely by individuals wanting to build more resilience into their lives.’

On an individual level, to build resilience we need to be conscious of our health, both body and mind. I don’t mean we live a monk’s life of abstinence, it just means being conscious of each decision that’s made and the consequences.

This morning I needed to clear the cobwebs and re-set my personal wellbeing barometer — I confess, I’d been bit of a lockdown lush, drinking too much wine over the weekend. However, being allowed out to exercise only once a day has meant I’ve prioritised my running again. My partner and I were up and out for an early 10K run by the beautiful white cliffs, blue sea and in very fresh air (with the added bonus of an extra few gusts to confirm I was clearing the cobwebs). As we ran I reminded myself that I can choose not to feel like this and I have the control to make the changes to feel better. Not big changes, simple conscious choices, like drinking more water, having a few booze-free days and sticking to my running schedule. We both returned to work, re-focussed and re-committed to wellbeing and getting the work we need to do done with a clear and stress-free mindset.

Make wellbeing part of your culture

Applying wellbeing in the workplace is just as simple. It’s making physical exercise, meditation or just time-out non-negotiable and valued. And it’s ongoing, the organisation needs to be conscious of wellbeing, to talk about it, practise it, focus on nurturing wellbeing  —  tweaking, refining and re-setting.

Back in October 2019, Microsoft news reported on a study they’d conducted saying: ‘Brits know that flexible working can help them spend as much time with their families as they do in the office and improve mental health, many companies don’t have the culture or technology in place to make this a realistic option.’ Surely, that has now changed…?

Time to reflect

The world has stopped and it’s a time for reflection on a macro and micro scale and an opportunity to refocus on our physical and mental health and worklife balance.

For myself, if I ‘tune in’, I hear what I need to hear. So, recently in reading the book Essentialism I was reminded of the importance of saying no to the unimportant and letting go of so-called opportunities (that are everywhere) to retain focus on the things that matter.

Perspective: you really do only live once

Hearing about the daily death rates are an important reminder that we’re not here forever. With less peripherals on our business and personal to do lists there’s time to look further ahead. In ‘normal’ times many of us over-populate our daily to do lists, and overestimate what we think we can achieve in a day, putting us into a permanent wired state. At the same time we under-estimate what we think we can achieve in the longer term by not focussing on what we might want our business and our lives to look like in one year from now.

Wellbeing is, as I said is more than box to tick, it’s a mindset and it’s an attitude. Whether it’s an empty bank account or a hangover we’re all having a wake up call. Wellbeing is more than just yoga or mindfulness at lunchtime, it’s about keeping our air clear (allowing the immunity-busting Vitamin D to penetrate our skin) and operating with our eyes open, it’s wellbeing for the wider world. It’s a new bottom line — again to yesterday’s Sunday Times and this time a simple summary from Alex Edmans, professor of finance at London Business School: ‘Companies that serve wider society will perform better in the post Covid-19 corporate world’.

Fiona Bugler

This article was written by our team of in-house writers. We're always interested to hear from wellbeing professionals and business leaders. If you'd like to write for the zone, follow this link.

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