Leaders’ role in delivering holistic health, safety and wellbeing strategy

Culture And Behaviours

Safety & Health Practitioner

Gone are the days when the wellbeing box was ticked by having a fruit bowl next to the coffee machine. But now with the pandemic in the picture, has wellbeing been pigeon-holed to be solely about stress and anxiety?

We talked to Consultants at Tribe Culture Change to see how they’re encouraging clients to approach wellbeing as part of the bigger picture…

A recent survey showed that 60% of workers feel anxious and just over half are low in mood.[1] Google searches for ‘signs of burnout’ are up by 221%.[2] It’s a tough time for employees and the pandemic’s impact on our mental health has been well documented.

Mark Ormond

Mark Ormond, Managing Director

But stress and anxiety aren’t the sum total under the wellbeing umbrella. According to Mark Ormond, Managing Director at Tribe Culture Change, it’s fundamental to take a wider view to uncover what’s fuelling the wellbeing problems.

“Wellbeing accounts for much workplace absence but we don’t know how many safety incidents may have a root cause in people’s wellbeing. Are workers feeling distracted, panicked or stressed? Are they making decisions based on their emotions instead of factual evidence? And if this is the case, what can be done about it?”

Human factors

Colin Hewson, Lead Consultant at Tribe, delivers Human Factors Trainings. “No one ever sets out to hurt someone but why do people make certain decisions or behave in a certain way? Is it because of the systems and the organisation or because of outside influences?”

“Many human factors are linked to wellbeing,” he says. “Tiredness, home working, shift patterns, communication, distractions, commercial pressures and stress… in our workshops we discuss how they can impact people’s decision making.”

He continues, “Getting to the bottom of these factors allows leaders to understand the impact they can have on someone’s performance.”

Leadership behaviours

Kate Morris

Kate Morris, Lead Consultant

“There’s a well-known phrase: people leave managers, not companies,” says Kate Morris, Lead Consultant. According to a 2015 poll by Gallup, 75% of people at some point in their career leave a job because of their manager.[3]

Kate continues: “The way people lead and manage others has a huge impact on wellbeing. Do they really care about the people in their teams? Do they respect them and communicate effectively – including listening to ideas and concerns? Do they trust their team members to get on with their job and provide support when it’s needed?”

She believes this balance has to be right to allow people to thrive. “If this goes wrong, people can feel overloaded and anxious. Just talking about how to manage stress is not enough.” She says, “We also need to talk about good leadership and how to support everyone to thrive, so they don’t become stressed in the first place.”

Opening up

Tribe has been working with clients, some of whom are having serious mental health issues among their workforces, but if no-one feels able to speak up and have an honest conversation about how they’re doing, nothing will change.

“Change must come from the top,” says Mark. “Leaders must be open to talking about mental health and wellbeing and really lead by example.” This may be by prioritising work/life balance, being open about their own wellbeing, and encouraging more talk.

Mark says: “We’re working with a client at the moment and everyone is saying they’re overstretched – including senior leaders. When I asked if they pushed back, they looked shocked. But if leaders don’t, no one will.”

“Leaders need to be aware of their behaviours and understand how they’re passed down through the company,” he says. “If everyone’s overstretched, no one will be productive.”

Completing the jigsaw

Increasing numbers of employers are investing in Mental Health First Aiders. Employees are trained to notice signs of mental ill health, listen in a non-judgemental way, and signpost people to further support.

Kate feels these are a great idea but they’re only one piece of the jigsaw. “Mental Health First Aiders are there to provide support, but leadership must be there too. Leaders need to have the skills to recognise the signs that someone is struggling and react positively.” She says: “If someone doesn’t seem their normal self, you can’t just ignore it.”

Instead, leaders should be upskilling their workforce to have wellbeing conversations throughout all levels of their organisation.

She continues: “With people being allowed to go back into offices and restrictions lifting, it’s also about reconnecting with our colleagues and encouraging openness. Perhaps you choose to run more regular away days or it’s a Friday lunch together.”

Cultural maturity

Within the field of culture change, a cultural maturity index marks where an organisation sits on its journey to reaching maturity. Kate says: “You couldn’t be a level five organisation without wellbeing. It’s not enough to just not harm people, you have to support people to thrive.”

[1] The Workplace Health Report: 2022, Champion Health, 2022.
[2] According to Google search data.
[3] State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders, Gallup, 2015

Safety & Health Expo

Hear more from Tribe Culture Change at Safety & Health Expo, taking place at London’s ExCeL, from 17-19 May 2022.

Tribe will be taking to the Keynote Theatre at 12:15 on Thursday 19 May, with a session called ‘Wellbeing: Are we really listening or just hearing?‘.

The Tribe acting team we will deliver a scripted scenario, where we tackle mental health and wellbeing at work. Facilitated by an experienced consultant, we will engage the audience to draw out the clues and cues to spot when people may need support and what is going on in the business that could be driving a poor culture for wellbeing. We will demonstrate what could have been done to make a difference, including how to conduct a wellbeing conversation that shows you are really listening – not just hearing.

Tribe Culture Change will also be exhibiting at the event, catch then on Stand: SH2678.

Click here to book your free ticket for Safety & Health Expo 2022.

Burnout, stress and being human

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

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Supporting your people to thrive: Leaders’ role in delivering holistic health, safety and wellbeing strategy
Gone are the days when the wellbeing box was ticked by having a fruit bowl next to the coffee machine.

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