Health, Wellbeing and Balance are hot topics in the workplace. Everyone seems to have an opinion but few have easy answers, particularly in the consultancy profession.
We are thrown into our clients’ most high-pressure environments to solve their most complex problems. We are told on Day 1 that projects are ‘mission critical’ and ‘must not fail’, to be delivered within seemingly impossible deadlines. The hours are variable (and can be long), the locations frequently change (as do the commutes). Consistency and routine can be rare.
Inevitably these factors can impact your physical and mental health and make it hard to find the elusive zen of ‘balance’.
The Gate One culture is sensitive to these dynamics; we are always looking for new ways (big and small) to help the team to perform at their best and make positive choices. As the People, Talent and Culture Lead in the consulting team, I am proud of the progress we have made while being acutely aware of how much more we need to do.
It was recently Mental Health Awareness Week, which prompted me to reflect more thoughtfully on my own mental health and where we are as a company. Looking at myself over the last year, I am surprised at how fragile health can be and how quickly and unexpectedly mental health problems can appear.
As a business and as a team, we have a duty to ourselves and each other to invest time and resources in better wellbeing. Health and Wellbeing requires a balance between working hard and getting the most out of life. This, in turn, demands a balance of individual responsibility and organisational support.
At the end of last year, we redoubled our efforts on Health and Wellbeing with the introduction of “Balance”, a two-way health engagement programme for all our people. “Balance” encompasses mind, body and personal goals. Our mental and physical health are intrinsically linked and of equal importance; positive and negative factors of each affect the other. Similarly, setting purposeful, achievable goals sets a framework for making positive day-to-day choices.
We have kicked off a variety of projects and initiatives to make this happen. We have implemented a formal internal coaching programme to help us set achievable life and work goals. This stands alongside an innovative health improvement programme with LiveSmart that takes blood tests and survey results to help us set attainable health targets – supported by proactive lifestyle, health and nutrition coaching.
On the training front, we have run internal courses on understanding stress and learning to have better conversations, we teach mindfulness techniques, and even we invested in a Mental Health Ally training day. We have created an inclusive company sports team, and colleagues regularly train together outside of work. We also have an Employee Assistance Programme that provides professional support and resources for our people to tackle mental health issues, including confidential counselling.
Are these things making a difference? Absolutely. Have we got further to go? Definitely.
I’m proud of my leaders and my colleagues for how they continue to push themselves to do more to help our collective health and wellbeing and foster the right internal culture. And I’m proud of the way our company has become open and candid about the challenges we face. By being more honest with ourselves and more open with each other, we are becoming a healthier, happier company.
Most of all I’ve realised that “balance” is not something you find, or that finds you – as many people would have you believe. Rather, it’s something you create, and that takes a collective, constant effort. I’m looking forward to what we will create next.