Wellbeing In the Spotlight

The impact of mental health and tackling it post Covid-19

Following the launch of the PRS Wellbeing practice, Andrew Pullman has recorded a podcast with the Master of the Guild of HR Professionals , Annette Andrews.

Topics discussed include the impact of the Corona Times on mental health, mental health first aid, and what the future holds beyond the current pandemic.

Listen as a stream below, or subscribe via iTunes, Spotify, TuneIn, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.

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People Risk Solutions (PRS) launches Wellbeing Practice

Since our inception in October 2006, PRS has successfully built four business practices:

  • HR Outsourced Support
  • Management Effectiveness
  • Culture, Values & SMCR, and
  • Outplacement and Career Transition

All specially designed for the Financial Services and Professional Services sectors.

In response to unprecedented demand from our clients and the market in general, we have now launched our own dedicated Wellbeing Practice. Andrew Pullman, CEO of PRS, is acutely aware of the tsunami of mental health challenges likely to arise in response to the government’s announcement to lift lockdown and get the country back to the workplace. Not only has 100% of the workforce been affected in some way by the six months of lockdown, but the new paradigm of work throws up an unprecedented set of challenges to all organisations, large and small.

Our new Wellbeing Practice is set up to help organisations tackle this issue, and in particular we can:

1.  Conduct initial organisational Wellbeing checks.

2.  Help organisations set themselves up for success. implementing some immediate ‘quick wins’.

3.  Lead on assisting companies to establish and embed their own Wellbeing & Mental Health strategy.

4.  Put in place ‘review and refinement’ processes.

With the increasing return of employees into the workplace, our ‘quick wins’ rapidly put in place some best practice measures, including:

  • Training Mental Health First Aiders as the first line of support in your organisation and establishing a support network for these Mental Health First Aiders;
  • Manager Briefing sessions to recognise the warning signs of mental ill health and introduce the skills and confidence to safely approach and support someone;
  • Coaching PLUS … one to one coaching for senior leaders, incorporating a focus on their own and their team’s mental health;

And coming soon …

  • Providing a Virtual Mental Health First Aid support service; for those organisations which are either too small to form their own in-house Mental Health First Aiders, or those demanding an immediate, transitional support service.

Aligned with PRS’s existing brand, providing a quality service sits at the heart of our new Wellbeing Practice. Indeed, all of PRS’s MHFA trainers are national trainers for MHFA England, and our practice is led by a fully qualified Mental Health First Aider. Our programmes are also tailored for the Financial Services and Professional Services sectors.

If you would like to find out more please contact us at [email protected]

How PRS flipped their thinking

office flipped upside down

How PRS flipped their thinking… and changed their approach to training

A fresh approach to developing your people

The Covid-19 pandemic has flipped the world upside down. We are learning to live in a world where the established norms and routines have been cast aside – with no certainty as to when, whether or how they return. But we are living and working still, and they way we develop as professionals must flip too if we are to continue learning and growing.

New ways of learning are needed that not only address the situation as we find it but will remain relevant, engaging and effective in the professional world that will be built out of the current crisis. This is no small task, and putting together a pragmatic solution called for reflection and contemplation on the scale and nature of the turmoil.

The upheaval has been dramatic, on all levels. Almost 50% of people in the UK have been forced to work from home; unprecedented amounts of money have been invested to shore up the economy; and as thousands of people have died from the pandemic, millions more have been locked down at home for many weeks.

New Tech meets Old Tech

In the personal sphere, the technologies and luxuries of the twenty-first century have been joined by a new interest in traditional crafts and skills as old as civilisation itself. Lockdown in the home has resulted in a desire for increased self-sufficiency – baking, sewing, knitting and growing our own food. Collectively remembering that we are not entirely reliant on pre-packaged options is something which crossed over into training.

We have remembered that we enjoy doing things for ourselves. We also have been given the time to do them. While there may be frustration at patchy zoom call connections or a longing for more conclusive face to face meetings, precious few have missed the grinding commute. Lockdown has granted many the gift of time, or control over time. The ability to be in command of your own day, to set your own timetable and to work when you’re at your most productive.

The Genie is out of the bottle

The genie has been let out of the bottle and it remains to be seen how willingly everyone will be corralled back into their offices. Those paying the rents on office property are also reassessing the true value of the physical workplace itself. Yet the old world will cling on. Many thought the September 11th attacks would change how we travel forever. However, within days we were flying again and very quickly ceased to bat an eyelid at scanning our belts and shoes. A desire for familiarity may temper truly radical change.

Training and development in the post-Covid world then must incorporate these newly discovered freedoms whilst retaining the very best of the traditional approach. A pre-packaged option pushed from above will not do. Nor will a total departure from all that is comforting and familiar. Learning must be recognisable, but new – not entirely transformed, but flipped.

Flipped Training

Our targeted modules have been flipped to put content directly into people’s hands. Those who now dictate the time, place and pace of their own workday can learn via phone, laptop or tablet in environments of their own choosing. This continuous development is enhanced through online access to the highly experienced PRS team of associates.

Online learning, tools and surveys allow the learner to drive their own development. Chat boxes, live group sessions and individual remote coaching consolidates the learning and sets out future steps. Teacher and technology work together to provide tailored modules from graduate development programmes to senior management training.

Find out more…

If the world flips, you can stand still and fall or flip with it and keep moving. To find out more about how PRS Flipped Learning can keep your organisation moving forward, please contact us directly to discuss how we can address the specific needs of your business in the new world that is emerging.

prs flipped training in desert

 

Outplacement and Career Transition – What are the advantages of working with PRS?

People Risk Solutions

There are several advantages that working with PRS will bring you:

We keep our range of services and programmes simple. We offer personalised and tailored programmes and we can provide these flexibility both to you as an organisation and to your employees. There are also five other features of our programmes.

1. Our programmes are straight-forward.
2. Our service is flexible.
3. We provide generous time frames for completing programmes.
4. We offer increasing levels of support.
5. We provide an opportunity to add further services.

What are the benefits?

We believe that you will see benefits at three levels – to the organisation, to HR and to your employees.

To the Organisation

• Managed risk
• External – reputation management
• Internal – enhanced employee morale
• Clear, transparent pricing structure
• Guaranteed response time
• Proactive Outplacement Partner
• Support in implementation

To HR

• Simple to implement
• Take away the heavy lifting
• Low maintenance and low risk
• Hassle free
• Transparency
• Hand over whole process to us
• Clear reporting of usage
• Clear guidelines for HR team
• End of phone / email support
• Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure

To your employees

• Clear level of service
• Top up facility
• Tailored to individual learning style
• Ownership rests with employee
• Focus on fulfilling dreams
• Job versus self-employment
• Flexibility to meet personal timescale
• Best practice

Our style and approach

PRS is wholly flexible and individual in our approach to outplacement. We create a structure around the individual to meet their very unique requirements whilst avoiding a sense of “processes”. PRS has quickly established a reputation in the London and the South East and is expanding this to other areas in the UK. We have become acknowledged as a niche player able to advise organisations on the best way to support their people who are going through career transition.

PRS works with people in a way that best suits them and their organisation. We offer one-to-one coaching, group workshops, a remote telephone and online support or a combined approach.

To find out more, contact PRS here

Leadership Lessons from Lions

It’s not coming home. Not yet, anyway. There is a sense of disappointment, but with it, an overwhelming feeling of pride. Despite losing at the semi final, the England Team’s journey to and through the competition has lifted the nation and also shown us some useful lessons about forming and leading a team.

As a relatively young team (and the least experienced in the competition) they have learnt a lot. They have been much more successful than expected. Cynics will point to the opposition they faced and their route to the semi final but anyone who remembers the game against Iceland in 2016 will know that in the past England have been capable of losing to any opposition placed before them.

This time was different. Why were they successful? There are many reasons, but I have identified five key approaches which I believe can be adopted by professions beyond football.

Being well organised and led

The coach, Gareth Southgate, created an environment where the team worked well together. He arranged teambuilding activities with the Royal Marines that helped bond the team. Interestingly, these were conducted without access to mobile phones and social media!

Making good use of specialist coaches

Employing a sport psychologist is nothing new but, in this case, the team identified a key challenge and used the appropriate specialist resources to address it. England are a team who have been accused of not caring sufficiently about international football, especially in comparison with their well-paid club competitions. This was not evident in 2018 and the different ways of working as a team that were introduced delivered a pride and passion not seen for some time.

Creating a safe environment, without traditional rules

Unlike in previous tournaments, family time was encouraged and had the result of keeping the team relaxed and calm. There are many, many people for whom family is the ultimate motivation for work (whether making them proud, providing for them or both). Erecting barriers to work/life balance may seem like a way to encourage focus but can have adverse effects on a team’s performance.

Practicing basic skills

The team focused on set pieces such as free kicks in order to optimise their opportunities. This is invaluable advice for any profession – a successful start-up restaurant will have a small menu of winning dishes rather than pages and pages of choice. For an inexperienced team, focussing on the basics and a few areas where you can really deliver is far more important than variety.

The demise of the prima donnas

The focus of the team was the team rather than individual performance. It could be argued that Neymar’s theatrics cost the Brazilian team their place in the finals, causing annoyed referees to give the benefit of the doubt to the opposition. Off the pitch (and in the workplace) diva behaviour can be equally destructive and was weeded out of the England camp. As Peter Sullivan, the former captain of the Australian Rugby Team said “A champion team will always beat a team of champions”.

Could your team benefit from developing key skills rather than always learning something new? Are you (inadvertently or deliberately) creating a strained environment by limiting people’s family time? How do you deal with the company prima donna? There’s plenty of food for thought. If something here strikes a chord, please feel free to contact PRS and speak with one of our associate leadership coaches.

The England Team were much more successful than expected, but there is no doubt that they will keep working to improve, as all good teams do.

Time’s Up in 2018 – Making work place changes to deal with harassment and intimidation

The start of every New Year is an occasion to make changes – 2018 has some particular opportunities.

The wave of change for those who fear oppression or harassment in the work environment continues to gather pace. Hollywood made a major stand at the Golden Globe awards. As we wait to see whether fine words and matching black outfits can be translated into positive action and a genuine cultural shift, the world is hopeful that real change will follow – in the film industry and beyond.

Recognising there is a problem is a vital first step in solving that problem. It can be a very difficult step, but that doesn’t mean the steps that follow will feel easier. Having acknowledged that culture needs to change across all industries and sectors, we need to enable that change and ready ourselves for the new challenges this will bring.

It is expected that both women and men who experience harassment will be more emboldened to make complaints. So organisations need to be prepared to investigate these situations and deal with them head on. This passive approach of waiting for complaints alone will no longer suffice and organisations need to encourage their staff to step forward if they are treated badly.

Some of our political parties have shown us how not to do it. A lack of investigation and untested allegations have led to suicides by those accused. By mismanaging the situation, it is not just the victims who can suffer. With peoples’ lives and livelihoods at stake, it is not appropriate to wait until a situation arises and ‘learn as you go’ how to manage it.

We have seen the abuse of power in various guises revealed across society – not just in the headline grabbing spheres of showbusiness and politics. It is no longer realistic to think ‘it couldn’t happen where I am’ – all businesses need to be prepared.
2018 may present difficult challenges, we may have to deal with damaged trust and to help damaged people; but our response is the key to unlocking the positive. Each claim and case thoroughly investigated and satisfactorily resolved is a foundation stone for building a new, open and honest work environment. This New Year, real change is possible.

The Weinstein Scandal – protecting against the abuse of power

photo from hollywoodsign.org

The Harvey Weinstein story raises the issue of senior manager bullying and psychopathic type behaviour. The allegations of misconduct and sexual harassment made against him are terrible but, sadly, not shocking. Described as an ‘open secret’, it is behaviour widely assumed to occur in casting couch scenarios but which has been allowed to pass due to a cultural tendency to disbelieve the victim. Only now are the reports, allegations and accusations being treated seriously.

What is shocking is that some reporting on this story would lead you to believe that this behavioural problem is confined to Hollywood. It is very visible in all businesses as well as the film industry. It is all about abusing power. The abuse may take different forms, but it is always bullying. Bullying occurs all through life from school onwards. Bullies need to be rooted out, named and shamed.

It is well documented that there are many sociopaths and psychopaths in business. Key features of these conditions – a lack of empathy, no guilt, no conscience, lack of emotional intelligence, and the manipulation of people – have traditionally aided bullies’ rise to positions of power, from where they are able to hurt more individuals and enjoy a greater degree of protection.

A strong HR function should aim to protect organisations from these types of people. Although successful in the short term, they cause a great deal of direct and collateral damage in the long-term. Firms harbouring them will eventually suffer expensive legal cases, loss of talent, and loss of clients. The greatest damage is that done to the individuals who have suffered at the hands of the bully. Personal damage can be irreparable and irreversible.

Hollywood’s ‘open secret’ – a culture in which people are prepared to look the other way in exchange for continued success – is not confined to Hollywood. Individuals exhibiting the characteristics of a bully are often excused if they are temporarily useful. Euphemistic epithets can sometimes hide serious behavioural issues – he’s ‘a character’, she’s ‘larger than life’. In Hollywood films, the villains arrive onscreen to ominous music. In real life there’s no tell-tale music but there are signs and HR must be vigilant.

A Brexit of sorts? Leadership lessons from Dunkirk

brexit
The United Kingdom is embattled, standing alone against all of Europe and trying to facilitate the best possible exit for its people. Is the 21st century Brexit the equivalent of 1940’s Dunkirk? There may be some comparisons to be made but it is perhaps not the most appropriate or tactful of analogies. However, what we can see in the events of Dunkirk that is of relevance today is truly effective leadership under extreme pressure.

Christopher Nolan’s film is currently retelling what is, to some, a familiar story. A new, younger audience may be learning about the dramatic escape of over 300,000 soldiers for the first time. All stand to learn something. Whether you’re conducting negotiations in Brussels or running your own business here in the UK, there are leadership lessons to be learned from the example of Captain Bill Tennant. As the Naval officer tasked with organising the beach evacuations at Dunkirk, he demonstrated the importance of:

1. Seizing opportunities
2. Innovating
3. Acting with grace and humility

Did the British get lucky at Dunkirk? Yes, to an extent. Hitler’s decision to halt his ground advance and allow Goering to finish off the trapped Allied forces from the air provided a window of opportunity. However, this opportunity could have amounted to very little had it not been fully seized. Up until this point, under 8000 soldiers per day were being evacuated. The opportunity of extra time alone would have only resulted in 45,000 men rescued (Vice-Admiral Ramsay’s initial estimate). Tennant recognised that they had been given a chance to lift many, many more.

Good luck might come your way or you might be given a great opportunity but remember this is just the beginning – what can you do to make the most of this chance?

To fully seize the opportunity of an extra few days, Tennant set about rethinking the evacuation strategy and repurposing the resources at his disposal. The East Mole breakwater – a structure never designed to be a jetty – was converted into a dock. Boats could moor alongside twenty-four hours a day, regardless of tide. Captains who had been waiting in the channel for troops to be ferried out to them could now directly rescue soldiers themselves. Nearly 18,000 men were evacuated the first day it was used; Over 47,000 the day after.

What could you do differently? Do you possess resources you could put to a new, more effective use or are there ways you could involve members of your team more directly?

The world remembers ‘the little ships’. Quite rightly, the civilians who risked everything to do their part and take their small vessels into a warzone and onto the beaches are the most recognisable image of the operation. However, of the 300,000 eventually rescued from Dunkirk, over 70% owed their escape to Tennant’s idea of using the mole. He was a Royal Navy officer though – he was doing his duty. The civilians were a small part of the operation but they were doing something extraordinary.

Your part in a great success may not always be obvious. Hopefully this doesn’t bother you – personal ambition shouldn’t come before the team’s result. Your initiative and innovation may be at the heart of a big win but if members of your team have performed exceptionally it is right that they receive the recognition.

The British see the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 as a heroic success, in the face of potential disaster; the Germans viewed it as the final victory of its Continental European conquests; and today the Russian media has said that Dunkirk was in fact all about cowardice. It is all about perspective. I am in no doubt that those days were an incredible feat of human endeavour, and remind us in business today that, actually, anything is possible!

High Performing Cultures – Five lessons from the All Blacks

leadership culture

This week we have a guest blog on leadership culture by PRS associate Richard Watts. As the pundits consider what we have learned on the pitch from the Lions tour, Richard explores five business lessons we can learn from the Lions’ hosts – a team with a winning mentality and high expectations.

In rugby, we have just witnessed the British and Irish Lions draw a series with the All Blacks. What struck me was that the All Blacks captain after the final drawn match said, ‘we lost’. From a population of under 5 million they ‘lost’ to the Lions nations with a combined population of 69 million. However, over the last decade, the All Blacks rugby team have epitomised high performance, their win rate is around 95%, they are without a doubt the iconic market leader.

Much has been written about the All Blacks culture and how it might be applied to business. Sport teams only have to perform for short match periods, they have time to train and rehearse before they execute. In the commercial world, you are always on the pitch and there is not a bench of substitutes. So, what can we in business learn from the high performing culture that the All Blacks have built? Below are some key tenets of the All Blacks culture.

1.High Performance is the combination of Capability and Behaviours. You need to focus on creating and maintaining, under pressure, the right culture to allow winning behaviours. People can have the right skills but need to apply them in the right way.

2. People will rise to the challenge if they own the challenge. Everyone needs to take ownership. Pass the ball, as a leader pass responsibility on. Ask the right inclusive questions of your team and they will feel empowered to respond more positively.

3. No egos. No one is bigger than the organisation. Select, promote and retain people for their values not just experience. Disruptive influencers need to change or be changed.

4. Better people make better All Blacks. Yet again select carefully, you can develop specialist skills to meet your business needs, you can develop and train your people but you can’t fundamentally change a person’s character. Your values need to be more than words, you must bring them to life with genuine behaviours.

5. Leave the All Blacks jersey in a better place. Talking about leaving a legacy in your business is much easier if you are a shareholder, so it is crucial to effectively engage your employees with your brand through: a clear purpose, authentic values, a shared vision and a transparent strategy.

There are many more great examples of high performance, team and leadership behaviours to be learnt from the All Blacks. If you want to find out more about how we can help you create a high performing culture please contact us at People Risk Solutions.

Richard Watts is a leadership and strategy consultant. He has spent over a decade helping global businesses build high performing cultures with a focus on operational effectiveness. He honed his leadership skills as a senior operational leader in the Royal Marines, a high performing organisation which was based on liveable enduring values.

Leadership across different worlds: Post-truth, facts and feelings

leadership worlds
2017 has been a strange year so far. There is a disconnect between how things are and how things feel. Last month saw a leadership contest where the winner felt like they had lost and the loser felt as if they had won. This weekend a rugby team felt like they had lost even though they had travelled to the far side of the planet, beaten the odds, come from behind in a series and achieved parity with the best in the world.

Elsewhere in the world, the G20 summit took place. Taking part was the man who had won the US presidential election, even though he had lost the popular vote and is under a Federal investigation. It may not feel as though he is particularly presidential, yet it is he with whom leaders must meet. In the Middle East, Iraqi forces retook Mosul; but the video images of a bombed-out and shattered husk of a city do not convey the feel of a victory.

There are two versions of the world – the world that is and the world that appears to be. Where should we focus our attention? ‘On reality, of course’ would be a likely answer, ‘on facts and truth’. But in a post-truth world, is there still room for fact? The General Election and the EU Referendum were certainly fought on feelings rather than facts. The Alt-Right in the US and the Alt-Left in the UK dominate the social media news space with their ‘alternative facts’. The stock market has always been based on confidence not evidence.

The truth is, as Twenty-First Century leaders, we need to be aware of both worlds. Truth may be unpopular right now, but it won’t go away. No matter how successful you may feel your business is, if the company accounts are telling a different story you may need to take action or seek assistance. If a star employee decides to move on or retire, it may feel like a disaster, but rational thought will remind you that other exceptional performers are out there just waiting for an opportunity. You may feel as though you’ve been particularly diligent regarding regulations such as the Senior Managers Regime, but you are either compliant or you are not.

When it comes to people, we need to remember that feelings are not always telegraphed. We need to develop our emotional intelligence and empathise with how the world feels to others. The records may show that an individual has achieved a great series of results recently. However, you can’t assume that they’re feeling positive about this – the effort may be utterly draining them. An analysis of requirements and skills could indicate that someone is ideally suited to their role, whilst they may actually feel great frustration in their current position and be deeply unhappy.

Leaders need to be able to keep track of multiple worlds. The way the world is – the cold, hard world of facts, laws and reality cannot be ignored. However, the way the world feels is important too – judging trends and gauging direction is how you recognise opportunities. Last, and by no means least, is the need to remember the personal worlds that people inhabit. Clients, competitors, employees, and partners all see the world through their own lens and it is a reality to be mindful of. A work culture is a reflection of how a leader leads, and cultures of understanding can evolve where these worlds can co-exist without friction.

Bearing these things in mind might not help make any sense of a strange year on a strange planet, but it may help you to navigate the strangeness more easily.