Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Work Smart Work Savvy - Menu of Services

I've recently produced a new updated version of the Work Smart Work Savvy Menu of Services incorporating a few of my sketches which feature in my on-line training courses and often in the face to face training too.

The Menu of Services clearly explains the four legs of the business and provides details of the services within each.

If you would like a PDF version of this leaflet then drop me an email at worksmartworksavvy@gmail.com.

Front Cover

Page 1

 Page 2

 Page 3

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Mental Health @ Work Event

You may remember last month, I mentioned in this blog that I'd been asked to speak at the Mental Health @ Work, Mindful Employer conference in Swindon held at Arclite House home to Excalibur Communications on 1st March. 

It was a fantastic event, as the Mindful Employer events always are, and attracted a crowd of over one hundred delegates from local businesses all focusing on the importance of mental wellbeing in the workplace.

The event kicked off with Lauren Harkin from Withy King talking about the legal responsibilities employers have to their employees under the Equality Act before Dr Donna Lovell and Suzanne Baxter of Swindon Mind looked at Mental Health first aid focusing specifically on anxiety.

Finally it was my turn and I had been asked to provide a practical best practice session on what employers should do if they suspect that one of their employees has a mental health problem.

There was some great press coverage from the event along with some photos of all the speakers in The Business Exchange Swindon and WiltshireSwindon LinkSwindon Advertiser and Wiltshire Business.

These are a few snaps I took before and during the event.

Arclite House, home of Excalibur Communications all set up and ready.

Arclite House is that fantastic glass sided building by the Peatmoor Lagoon.  Even on a dreary, wet day we were flooded with natural light.
swindon mindfulness seminar donna lovell
I took along my Cup of Tea Advice Tree which proved very popular during the coffee breaks.

Attendees were encouraged to take a cup of advice away with them if they saw one they liked and to replenish the tress with their own words of wisdom.

Attendees networking during the coffee break.

Monday, 8 February 2016

How Differently We Treat Mental Illness vs Physical Illness

I've been asked to speak at a Mindful Employer conference in March on the subject of "What employers should do if they suspect that one of their employees has a mental health problem".  The idea being that I'd use my hands on experience gained by supporting and training hundreds of people who have been struggling at work due to stress, anxiety or depression to deliver a best practice for Line Managers advice talk.  

Although it was pretty clear in my head what I wanted to include in this best practice presentation, there was one thing that kept cropping up again and again in my thoughts...and that was...how differently we treat mental illness compared to how we treat physical illness.

We all have mental health just like we all have physical health.  Both need looking after and both change.  We can become mentally unwell just as we can become physically unwell.  Yet there seems to be a massive difference in the way we treat these two different sides of our health.  To me, among some people, there still seems to be a misunderstanding that being mentally unwell is a sign of weakness, unnatural, abnormal, giving in and not trying hard enough to get over it.  How wrong?  Would we say the same thing if someone fell over and broke their arm or caught the flu or had an ear infection?  I don't think so.

"Many people still don't get that being diagnosed with a mental illness isn't something that's in their control -- just like having the flu, or food poisoning, or cancer isn't in their control."  
(Lindsay Holmes - Huffington Post)

The first two links below showcase some brilliant illustrations which highlight the different way people treat a physical illness compared with a mental illness far better than I could ever explain, so I'll say no more and leave you to follow the links.

How People Treat Mental Illness vs How They Treat Physical Illness.
Have you tried herbal tea?

What If People Treated Phyical Illness Like Mental Illness?
Mental illness vs physical illness

Talking About Mental Health
Discover the small things

Finally, please do share this post so we can try and make mental health something we talk about as freely as physical health.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

What will you make happen in 2016?

So it's a new year which is traditionally seen as a time for making new year resolutions.  I always think of January as the Marmite month of the year. You either love it or hate it.

January can be a tricky month. The excitement and festivities of Christmas are behind us, it can be grey, damp and dark outside and we're back to the busy routine of weekly life; work, school runs and taxiing to and from after school clubs. Spring and summer can seem a long way away!

On the other hand, January can single a new start, another chance to do the things you had intended to do last year, a time for new plans and new possibilities. As I'm writing today, it's one of those fantastic crisp January days of blue skies and bright sunshine. Yes it's flipping freezing but nothing that my woolie bobble hat can't fend off. It feels like a positive day for new beginnings and new goals.

I'm not a big one for new year resolutions but there are two times in the year, without fail, that I set goals and January is one of those times. My husband knows I’m an old fashioned girl at heart and like to write things down with pen on paper so treats me to a beautiful diary each Christmas. My goals, tend to be a mixture of family focused, lifestyle choices and work planing goals for the year laying ahead and are one of the first things to be scribbled into my new diary. The other time is late August, after we’ve been away for our family holiday and had time to switch off a bit, reflect and before the new school term starts and the madness that brings with it.

Now there is one thing I want to make clear, firstly, I should really be saying ideas at this point rather than goals as ideas are the seeds we plant from which goals can grow if we decide to give them enough attention.

Ideas are the seeds we plant from which goals can grow.

Ideas are the big and little thoughts that pop into our head like “I’d like to lose some weight” or “I think we need to de-clutter the house” or "I want to be more organised" or “wouldn’t it be good to turn the garage into a mini fromargerie”. It is then up to us to look through our ideas and decide which ones are going to go on to get the whole Goal VIP Treatment and become fully fledged goals and which ones will be stored on a kind of idea shelf. Some of these ideas will remain on the shelf, possibly gathering dust and becoming outdated and destined for the idea achieve while others will be called into the Goal VIP area at a future date and given the Goal VIP Treatment. It’s in the Goal VIP area where the makeover work really begins.

If you have ideas you want to make into fully fledged goals and ultimately actually make happen then have a look at my Make It Happen Tool

The Make It Happen is a goal setting tool which will give you somewhere to start, a process to follow and a way to organise your thoughts so your vision becomes clearer, your actions more focused and your motivation more sustained.

Click here to go to my Work Shop Work Savvy shop and pick up your copy for the special new year price of just £2.  That's 11 pages of guidance and tips and 3 worksheets, all for £2 pounds!

I have noticed that I’m much more likely to achieve something if I make it into a well thought out and planned goal than if I just keep it as an idea seed.

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” 
 Bill Copeland Cricket Umpire

Friday, 20 November 2015

WSWS Friday Download - Does having a nice place to work really make a difference?

This is my workspace.  It isn't big or flash but it has natural light and a noticeboard full of pretty things which suits me down to the ground.
We've probably all seen photos of Google's offices around the world with their wacky tube slides, swing seats and giant bean bag cushions not to mention the 1960s caravan, surfboards, ball pits and the indoor crazy golf.  If you haven't then take a look at this gallery.  It looks amazing but is it a gimmick or are there real benefits to be reaped in terms of motivation, engagement, productivity and physical and mental well-being?

My husband, a software developer who normally works inside, always had a dream to have the opportunity to work outside.  Others would pooh-pooh the idea saying it's too hard, too uncomfortable, you can't seen the screen and you can't get a good internet connection.  He does it, depending on the work he's doing and it works fine.  He's fortunate enough to have a large garden at his place of work  where he can indulge in this outdoor dream and likewise on the days he works from home, if the sun's out and it's warm enough, he'll take his laptop into our garden.  He always says that he feels a million times better for it and that has to be a good thing.

In my previous place we moved into an old Victorian building.  I love old, I live in an old Victorian house and embrace the drafts, uneven floors and other quirks but this place just wasn't right for the work we were doing in adult mental health.  It felt institutionalised, the magnolia d├ęcor was was bland and uninspiring, it was either too hot or too cold and the meeting rooms were like cells and the offices were soul less.  Meeting with people who were feeling very low, anxious and lacking in self esteem in these windowless uninspiring boxes was in fact was rather depressing for both the client and the employee.   Unfortunately, I saw the negative impact this unstimulating environment had on myself, my colleagues and clients.

The workplace environment needs to be in harmony with the purpose it's being used for. 

Director of strategy and business transformation, Helen Nicol, at creative consultancy SoVibrant echoes this, 

“Open plan used to be all the rage, but this often had absolutely no bearing on what employees did, so people hated it,” she explains. “Making the working environment somewhere that supports what employees need to do, and makes them feel cared for, will make them happier and more productive.”

Natural light is one of my must haves when it comes to working and my desk (pictured above) is positioned by both a window and a skylight.  Without any natural light I feel the day has no shape.

The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace, published in March 2015, (carried out by Interface and Robertson Cooper) found that incorporating natural elements into office design increased workers' well-being by 15%, productivity by 6% and creativity by 15%.
Final words on the subject goes to Geoff Dutaillis, group head of sustainability at Lend Lease,

 “Whatever business you are in, you are in the business of people. How a building ‘works for people’ should be the priority question.”

Here is the Friday Download article round up on the subject of the impact the workplace can have on motivation, engagement well-being and productivity...

I've written about this topic before in my Workplace Most Wanted post.

The office that combats mental and physical stress.

Can the workplace motivate staff?

Could an office dog help your staff relax?

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

4 steps to take if you think you're being bullied at work

This week is National Anti-bullying Week and to mark the event my daughters' primary school held a Friendship Cafe yesterday.  For 50p the children had the chance to visit the cafe, buy a drink and a cake and have the opportunity to mix with children they might not normally do so such as younger or older children in the school.  

The photo above is the friendship chain drawn by my youngest in Year 1 who explained to me that these are the people she could talk to if she felt she was being bullied at school;  Mum, teacher, sister or a Year 6 playground play coordinator.  Just for the record, I have never done the school run in a crop top with my bully button on show ans certainly don't plan to start doing any time soon either!

But bullying isn't just a classroom issue, it happens in the workplace as well.

During my time working for the mental health charity Richmond Fellowship, I worked with 100s of employees and have seen first hand the damage bullying can do.  

So here are my top 4 steps to take if you think you're being bullied at work...

1. Is it bullying?
We may find ourselves  in a situation where we don't like the way we feel we're being treated at work but we're not sure if it constitutes bullying or harassment.  When it's happening to you it can be all consuming and can be difficult to look at it objectively when we're feeling hurt, angry, confused or scarred.  Bullies can be very devious making you doubt your story or telling you others won't believe you and intimidating you into silence.

Acas  the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service which provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law states:

"Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect at work." ACAS

Harassment as defined in the Equality Act 2010 is: 
Unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. (ACAS)

Bullying may be characterised as: 
Offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. (ACAS)

More information and further examples of what constitutes bullying can be found in the ACAS Bullying and Harassment at work guide.

2. Talk it through
My advice would be to start by talking through the situation whit someone you trust.  Having to actually articulate what's happening will help you to order your thoughts and create some clarity of the facts involved.

Now this one's tricky but if you can, try and arrange an information chat with the person who is treating you in a way you feel constitutes bullying.  Quite often bullies back down when confronted in a calm and in control manner. 

For tips on what to say and how to say it in a non confrontational way have a look at this post from Hannah Fox's Diary about Fact Feel Want

If talking to the bully is just too much for you or not practical then try and share how you feel with your manager or another trusted senior member of staff.

After every conversation, always document the chat including any agreements or actions agreed.

3. Keep a diary
Make a note of every inappropriate conversation; what was said, how it was said, how you felt, date and time, names of any witnesses.

Keep copies of any emails or voice-mails which are evidence to the bullying behaviour.

Also keep anything that contradicts the actions of the bully.  If the bully is implying you aren't doing your job properly then keep a nopte of all positive feedback from clients and colleagues, objectives and targets you've met and the time you've gone the extra mile.  This is your evidence and will be vital if you need to take further more formal action.

4.  Taking formal action 
The first step to taking more formal action is to raise a grievance.  Employers are responsible for preventing bullying and harassing behaviour and therefore your employer will have a formal grievance procedure so check out your staff intranet or handbook or speak with your HR department for details.

The grievance procedure will give you guidance on what to include, who to send it to and the time frame around when you will hear back from the investigation.  ACAS also has more information about Grievances which you can find here.

I'm sure other schools are also organising similar anti-bullying, kindness and tolerance promoting activities as my daughters'school Friendship Cafe and this can surely only be a good thing.  I'm not naive enough to think it will eradicate bullying totally but explaining, promoting an encouraging friendship, kindness, respect and tolerance in children is definitely laying some very solid and worthwhile foundation stones for future healthier, happier and more tolerant workplaces.
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