At GatenbySanderson, after the successful implementation of our Business Continuity Plan, we know we have the physical infrastructure to deliver the same excellent standards of service but we are also focused upon our organisation’s psychological safety and wellbeing.
Top of our list was to remind everyone that we have 11 Mental Health First Aiders in place across the business available to all of our people, as well as an Employee Assistance Programme. Practical tips have been posted on our learning platform to help teams remain inclusive, even though we are physically apart. This has brought out the best in some creative thinking to carry on as normal.
A Virtual “coffee room”, hosted on Microsoft Teams has been set up to ensure that people don’t feel isolated as they settle into working from home, and can maintain the usual “kitchen conversations”. Similarly, not to miss out on socialising in the pub after work, many teams have introduced “virtual drinks” by taking the usual after work socialising online, and even introducing a dress theme to keep the spirits high. Hats were all the rage this week for one team, though we’re not sure that rabbit is quite your look Craig…
We have also reassured everyone that it's normal to feel a little isolated and it might take time to adjust to fully working from home for the first time. To counter this, we have introduced “lockdown buddies” to those who just want some extra support. Buddies have video calls to to check in on each other’s mental wellbeing, discuss ideas on how to maintain motivation, keep fit and exercise their brains, as well as how they can support their partners, family or those that they live with whilst we must stay at home.
We have also offered extra support to parents, all now affected by school closures, so they can flex their hours, reduce them for a short period, buy back annual leave as well as a host of other options enabling colleagues to protect their income in these unprecedented circumstances. We are also making full use of our investment in technology by building a virtual community of parents at GS who are sharing ideas and supporting one another. Young children straying into conference calls or shouting for mum and dad in the background are to be expected and for most of us, especially those with grown up children, it brings a welcome smile as we remember our own multi-tasking challenges.
We have introduced COVID volunteering to our CSR programme; supporting vulnerable people with phone calls, picking up groceries or medication, providing patient or other NHS transport.
Whilst the current public health crisis has seen us increase activity in this area, our focus on positive mental health is not new to GatenbySanderson. We are committed to supporting the wellbeing of our colleagues and proud we have responded to Covid-19 with agility and creativity. More than anything, we are proud of our culture to be in it together.
If you would like to know more about our internal support structure or the schemes we have introduced to support our people in the current situation, please contact our Inclusion and Diversity Manager, Ainslie Wilson-Shearer at Ainslie.Wilson-Shearer@gatenbysanderson.com.
If you would like to know more about Mental Health First Aiders, please visit https://mhfaengland.org/.