June 10, 2022

Men’s Health Week – Mental Health at Work


Men’s Health Week – Mental Health at Work

Every year the Men’s Health Forum takes one week to encourage men to turn attention inward and make the time to prioritise their health.  This is so important in 2022 as, during the pandemic, early-stage cancer diagnoses fell by one third in the first lockdown, and mental health problems increased exponentially.  It’s time to right these wrongs, and encourage everyone to get checked out – but why the particular focus on men? For one reason, male visits to the GP fell more than any other gender’s, and statistically, men are less likely to seek help for a mental health problem. 

This year the Men’s Health Forum has created some specific collateral that focuses on mental health, and they are encouraging all men to take a ‘Mental Health MOT’.  They have created a short manual that uses a simple formula as a gateway to helping men take the first steps in looking after their mental health.

The ‘Men’s Health MOT for the Mind’ uses a tool called the CAN DO approach:

  • Connect – Boost your connections with others
  • Active – Easy ways to get active
  • Notice – Enjoy greater awareness of your environment
  • Discover – Keep Learning
  • Offer – Give to Others

At Connect Three we teach the importance of prioritising people’s mental health in the workplace, and how by offering support at work, you can help to improve people’s quality of life in general.  So with that in mind, we asked two of our male team members to take a look at the Mental Health MOT manual, and review the CAN DO approach for our clients and people.

First, before we look at the manual, do you think men really need a separate campaign to encourage them to look after their health?

David: “Yes I really do. Men are less likely to pay attention to their health – mental or physical – or to have a natural outlet to talk about these things. And when a man has poor mental health it’s more likely that this will be ruining someone else’s life too, for example, by them taking it out on others at home, or work.”

Gregor: “I agree.  A targeted campaign will help men relate and be able to focus on mental health challenges that are more prevalent in men. The best way to shift how men view their mental health is for them to see other men lead by example. Separate campaigns can help showcase these examples and create change.”

Is an ‘MOT’ and ‘CAN DO’ approach the answer?

Gregor: “Well – actually I was quite put off by the title!  ‘Man MOT’ is stereotyped towards a ‘manly-man who likes cars’…I don’t think I’m the only person that would feel alienated by it.

“The CAN DO approach is a great, factually correct system, but I think it falls down in its execution.  If you’re mentally struggling, facing burnout, and you feel like there is too much going on, CAN DO implies you should push through rather than pause and reflect.  The whole guide assumes you are going to have the time and energy to be proactive, and have the headspace and motivation to try the challenges.  This might be really useful for some people, but for others, it’s too far in the future.

Looking after yourself starts with self-reflection; understanding where you are at, not jumping into adding more things.”

OK, so the idea of making connections, speaking up, and gaining more awareness is correct – but wording it to sound like ‘just push through’ might give the wrong message! 

So what should workplaces be doing to help support their male employee’s mental health, especially with burnout becoming a real problem for all sizes of businesses?

David: “The first step, like Gregor says, is reflection and education.  We need to find ways to make it as normal to talk about mental health in the workplace as it is to talk about physical illness.  Leaders need to help people to get past ‘I’m fine’, and raise awareness of the outward signs of burnout and other common mental health problems.”

Gregor: “I agree, education is key.  Leaders should offer resources that people can access without having to raise flags or contact HR.  Step one in getting help, especially for men, should not be ‘admit your problem to someone’.  A huge barrier to men seeking help is fear of embarrassment or ridicule. Let’s remove that by giving out resources before they’re asked for.

“Male senior leaders need to be role models and be open about their own challenges with mental health.  This will help others in the business be open, start to listen, and maybe start to chat.”

Gregor, you are part of the Wellbeing team in Connect Three, what can you share that we do that might help others get started?

Gregor: “At Connect Three we have wellbeing sessions where we all come together to discuss how we’re getting on and what support would be helpful.  These are incredibly useful and, personally, I gain comfort from knowing others are going through or have been through similar situations; and I gain knowledge on what might help me get through them.  Having mixed-gender sessions lets men see how other genders share and speak about things – both positive and negative.  A separate campaign for men is great, but collaboration can be really helpful too.”

Amazing – thanks!  Any final thoughts David?

David: “It’s great that men’s mental health is being talked about more and more but we still have a long way to go. Let’s use this momentum to have conversations and be open to how we’re doing from there we can look at ways to help each other and ourselves.”

November 3, 2021

How to Reboard your People

Your people are not going back to the same workplace they left in March 2020 when the first UK lockdown started.  In the last 18 months the world has changed, and these differences will be around for the foreseeable future.  Now we need to help our people to transition from the ‘temporary’ ways of working we’ve had in place since then, to a new, safe, and inclusive workplace.  This is the principle behind reboarding.

Reboarding is the idea of welcoming your people back in a similar way as you would ‘onboard’ new employees; creating training and resources to help them make the move back to the office, or whatever new ways of working you have envisaged for your business’s future.

Creating this plan and process can be daunting, but think of it as the chance to design a new, improved employee experience that you can be proud of.

  1. Agree on the Vision & Make a Plan
    Before you start, you need to be clear on what your new workplace will look like.  As with all things, we would encourage you to consult with as many of your people as possible rather than rolling out your ideal solution and discovering that it will not work for your teams.  Surveys are telling us that single people want back to the office and couples want to work at home; that Millennials want back to their desks while Gen X want to work from home forever – without trying too hard I’m sure you can think of a dozen examples from your people, friends, and family where these generalisations do not apply, so please don’t assume that you know what people will want to do.  Just ask them instead.
  2. Support your Leaders so they can support your People
    Once you have your vision and plan in place, get your leaders ready.  You need to support them so that they are in a place to support their teams.  Many of us have relied on our managers to take on new responsibilities around the wellbeing of their teams when we were thrust into lockdown the first time.  Now as we seek to change their ways of working again, your people may feel anxious and out-of-place, and you need to equip your leaders to help support your teams through this.
  3. Prepare, Train, and take Feedback
    Ensure leaders know where they can access resources to help them to reboard their teams successfully; offer them updated training so they are confident about answering their people’s questions and addressing any concerns; and provide them a way to pass feedback upwards on what the teams are asking for, and let them know that this feedback is being acted on.
  4. Respect Individual Needs
    If there was one simple lesson that we could impart on the businesses working through their reboarding plans right now, it is ‘treat your people as individuals’.  No two people had the same experience of the pandemic, and it could be that no two people in your organisation require the same support as they return to the workplace.  Recognise their unique experiences, discover their needs, and your people will thrive.

For support developing your reboarding plan, get in touch with Connect Three today.

October 1, 2021

October is Menopause Awareness Month | Making a Menopause Friendly Workplace


According to Rachel Weiss, founder of The Menopause Café, too many companies still believe that it is acceptable to use the term ‘menopausal’ as a slur or insult in a workplace, and cites plenty of examples[1].  In 2018, the Deputy Head of the Bank of England[2] reported that the UK economy was ‘entering a menopausal phase’, meaning it was past its best in terms of productivity. What other situation is there left in the UK that it is acceptable to mock or discriminate against someone for in the workplace?  Or is being menopausal the last taboo in the UK office?

According to the NHS website[3], there are more than 30 symptoms associated with menopause, from psychological and physical challenges affecting sleep, concentration, mood, and anxiety levels, along with more visible symptoms including hot flushes.  It is tough to go through menopause in silence and even tougher to be working in an environment with no support.

You cannot let the senior leaders of your organisation leave with their considerable talent, knowledge, and experience just because their needs are not supported.

So how up to date is your support policy for menopausal women?  Wait…you don’t have one?  Well, you aren’t alone, but we are here to help.

Becoming a Menopause Friendly Workplace

Let’s start now. World Menopause Day is this month on 18th October and is a great opportunity to open discussions in your company.  From here, there are two clear steps for you to walk through in your mission to becoming  Menopause Friendly Workplace:

Step 1: EDUCATION and AWARENESS

Education of your people is key, as is training leaders to know how to make provisions for menopausal employees when required.  Your goal should be creating an open culture where mentioning menopause is as natural as raising any other health, mental health, and general well-being topics.  Women need to be able to have an open and honest conversation about what they need to help manage their symptoms, and reduce any negative impact on their mental health or the business.

Step 2: MAKE A POLICY

You need to create and implement a specific menopause policy so initial enthusiasm makes way for long-term changes.  By offering similar wellbeing policies and procedures as those in place for mental health support, stress management, new parents, and bereavement, you can support your female leaders at a time when they are vulnerable.

You should consider in your policy:

  • Options for flexible working models.
  • Training and development for team leaders.
  • Work environment comfort.
  • Access to specific healthcare information for affected women.

For more help with getting your policies in place, get in touch with Connect Three today.

RESOURCES:

Get started on your own education by reading some of the guidance on these sites:

 

SOURCES:

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/aug/17/my-bosses-were-happy-to-destroy-me-the-women-forced-out-of-work-by-menopause

[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44138229#:~:text=The%20Bank%20of%20England%27s%20deputy,and%20no%20longer%20so%20potent%22.

[3] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/symptoms/

January 26, 2021

Reflect, Reset and Refocus

When most of us look in the mirror we recognise our appearance as one which we are familiar with (and quite often we exaggerate those imperfections only we can see) however, how often do you give yourself the time to look inward to become more familiar with your own operating system made up of your values, beliefs, thoughts, feelings etc…

Against the backdrop of 2020 there was no shortage of new experiences and challenges about how we work, how we learn, how we think and how we live. It is so important to make the most of these as we do not learn from the experiences themselves, we learn from reflecting on our experiences. Only then can we start to make sense of what that means because, in the words of Ralph Emerson, “to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”.

I recently ran practical workshops for both Glasglow Girls and SWIB which gave the participants the opportunity to be ‘healthily selfish’ by taking time out to explore what was important to each of them, their happiness and their well-being. Through using the concept of Ikigai I gave participants a framework to enable them to make structure those reflections in a way which helps to reset the now and refocus the future.

While we’re nearly at the end of January 2021, consider what time you’ve given yourself to reflect, reset and refocus, to define the impact you want to make this year and to identify what you need to do to make your dreams into plans…it’s never to late to start!

November 19, 2020

What is OK Positive?

We’ve introduced a brand new tool into the Connect Three team’s daily lives that we are really excited to tell you about. Katy has been the driving force behind it, so we’ll let her explain in her own words:

“I am delighted that we will be using OK Positive in Connect Three as part of the benefits that we offer our team members.

It is a tool that is for personal use designed to help people be more aware of their own happiness levels. The thing that I love the most is that it gives you lots of tools and resources for you to explore what strategies work to help you build emotional strength and wellbeing of your mind.

There is yoga, mindfulness colouring, meditation, breathing, as well as budgeting tools.

We will use these to host team events to encourage more team activities and open up communication on mental health at work.

I am so proud that we are taking this on and we hope to encourage more businesses to invest in their team’s mental well-being by us using this app.”

If you’d like to find out more about this or any of the other tools that we use to keep our team happy and motivated, get in touch with any member of the team today.

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