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Quite rightly the industry trend of health and wellbeing continues. More and more people are becoming aware and increasingly organisations are ensuring that it is on the executive agenda. I wonder what you think about it all?

Do you prefer to wait until something extraordinary happens to you or your team before you realise the benefits of offering support? Counselling, time off, trained managers, listening, alternative employment, patience and respect are all examples of what lots of workplaces offer – some offer far more. The real point of it all is that these things are in place before anything happens. Nothing can prevent people facing tragedies (or what they perceive as tragedies) in their life and none of us can predict how individuals will react in the face of these events. The work/life balance agenda is more about ensuring that people know before something happens that when they need help it will just be there. People don’t want to face added pressure or anxiety when they need help; raised eyebrows or gossip behind closed doors is what prevents people seeking help. We need to know that when we need help we will be met with empathy and a smooth pathway or process that will open up and take the pressure away.

Even if you have all of the above in place, that is only part of the jigsaw. Wellbeing is more than a robust support system when things go wrong, it’s about proactively creating a place where people feel happy and motivated and safe. It is no longer acceptable for people to feel under pressure to work harder or longer hours, striving always to do more to a level that is unreasonable. (Some of these expectations are self imposed).

Presenteeism is a thing of the past in many companies – getting the job done from the comfort of your home sofa is just as acceptable if it works for everyone. Some companies are offering limitless holidays, and do you know what is happening as a result? People ensure that their work is done right first time and that they have collaborated with team members to keep a watching eye. People are getting more chances to be developed so that work can be delegated more broadly. I haven’t heard of many examples of people taking advantage – why would they?

These initiatives cost money but maybe not as much as managing sickness and absence or recruiting and training new staff.

Penny Whitelock FinstLM