As WCL’s Managing Director, James Willison is aware of the unanticipated mental wellbeing implications that staff may experience from remote working. With that in mind, he decided it was time to bring in the experts to help prioritise mental wellbeing during the COVID 19 pandemic and to set a precedent for the future, when working from home may become more commonplace.
The ability of an organisation to weather the fallout from the coronavirus, both on its employees and bottom line, lies in its adaptability, resilience and the collaborative potential of the business.
At WCL, we adjusted our operations, systems and working practices to the reality of the coronavirus lockdown and there was a quick and seamless transition to home working. The next step, as I saw it, was to undertake specific actions to help employee mental health. As a close-knit team that works in the City of London, we were aware that our staff would be dealing with a whole new raft of different challenges whilst working from home permanently, especially those with young children.
There is a limit, however, to the support business leaders like myself can offer when it comes to managing employee mental health during the coronavirus outbreak. Workers’ needs, behaviours and attitudes to their work will change and most of us are not equipped to understand or address the psychological impact of being in lockdown or quarantined at home.
So we decided to bring in the experts to help. WCL has hosted a number of webinars, in partnership with our parent company Advisen, with mental health specialist Stephanie Unthank from the Infinity Wellness Project. The sessions took the form of a virtual zoom meeting, and our teams joined from different continents to discuss how our workforce can manage their own mental wellbeing during these extraordinary times with extraordinary working conditions.
Stephanie Unthank is a fully qualified, registered and regulated wellness professional who has designed a tailored programme for our global team.
In a series of virtual sessions, around 40 staff from all over the globe explored the themes of anxiety, stress and uncertainty and the direct link they have to our long-term health and happiness. Tips, tools and teachings to identify and manage our mental wellbeing were passed on, as well as ways of learning to notice when we’re unhappy and stressed out during these challenging times
During the afternoon session, we were taught mindfulness practises, which incorporated breathing exercises and grounding techniques when stress levels start to rise.
I must admit, the amount of interest, participation and positive feedback from the staff was great to see! There is clearly a desire and an appetite from all the team to understand and protect our mental wellbeing during these “unprecedented times”.
Putting the needs of our employees first has been of huge importance to WCL and Advisen and such a worthwhile investment and I would certainly recommend others do the same and partner with a company like Infinity Wellness.
Stephanie had one pearl of wisdom that has stuck with me. It is important to recognise that we are ‘surviving’ this prolonged period of uncertainty and heightened stress – and we should give ourselves some credit for that. Learning about how we can cope with change and uncertainty for the long term, build resilience and support ourselves through times like these can really help us to be ready for when we may need to dig deep again.