At Oakland mental health and wellbeing is at the forefront of all we do and during lock-down we have been looking to support our employees in more ways than ever as we all adjust to new ways of living and working.
A recent study by Total Jobs of 2,008 workers found that more than two thirds of homeworking employees felt their wellbeing had been affected by the changes brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak https://workinmind.org/2020/04/16/wellbeing-affected-by-homeworking-new-research-reveals/. This period of uncertainty has highlighted many different emotions and side-effects, such as stress, worry, insomnia and fatigue. Working remotely has also brought additional issues to the forefront for many such as balancing family and home life, longer worker hours and for some feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Whilst working remotely we have been unable to meet our colleagues face-to-face in the office and missed our regular social events and coffee catch-ups. As a result, during the pandemic we have sought new ways to offer support and check in with each other. We have hosted daily coffee calls and weekly town hall calls via Zoom. This format has introduced us to a whole new way of interacting with each other and we have used these virtual meetings to engage and chat about work, share funny stories and anecdotes and we have really loved getting to know some young family members and even some furry friends along the way. We have also used these calls to host fun quizzes on far ranging subjects such as space travel, science, food, wine, football and even a ‘Name the Biscuit’ quiz, with some weird and wonderful gifts for the winners and losers! We even hosted a surprise leaving party on one of these calls for our Managing Director, Mike Turner as he left Oakland to start a new role with the CQI and we saw many of his colleagues, both past and present come together to bid him a fond ‘virtual’ farewell after working with the company for over 20 years.
With everyone working from home, we are committed to keeping our culture and the working environment we have worked hard to develop, it isn’t always easy to keep everyone engaged and not everyone enjoys the ‘virtual’ experience, so to counterbalance this we have been sending regular little surprises to everyone whilst they have been working remotely, to let them know we are grateful for their continued support and hard work during such a difficult time and to remind them what a fantastic job they do and how much we really do value them.
We are constantly looking for new ways to incorporate wellbeing into the workplace and recently brought in an external company to conduct a wellbeing survey to find out how people were currently feeling and how we could support them going forward. This was an opportunity for everyone to be completely honest and give us some valuable feedback which will shape how we look after both the mental and physical health of our employees and associates. Following the results from the survey, we have arranged additional virtual sessions to take place during August and September to cover four major topics – Sleep, Recharge, Move and Mind Matters. These sessions will provide some valuable support for our team and hopefully prove to be beneficial from both a work and home perspective.
As a company we are making big investments into wellbeing and we are always looking for new ideas on how to engage with our employees and provide support. We have set up an internal wellbeing channel on Slack, which serves as a two way thing, we can post resources and advice, but our staff can also post anything relating to wellbeing, such as hints and tips and updates, all of which have really helped us to stay connected. We have also created a Trello board with additional wellbeing resources, such has podcasts, blogs and reading material.
In addition to the above, we have also appointed a Mental Health Champion who will soon be trained in Mental Health First Aid to enable us to implement and support the company’s wellbeing strategy and provide further support to our colleagues within the workplace by promoting healthy lifestyles and positive mental health.
We firmly believe that if you look after your staff, your staff will look after you.
Jane Dennis, Office Manager and Mental Health Champion