Making A Difference – World Mental Health Day

When colleagues suffered from mental health issues, Allwag Promotions sought to make a change for the better, says Angela Wagstaff

Running a business can be tricky especially when you are juggling so many different elements all in one day. Whether it be financial management at the same time as answering who used the last of the milk, contract management with who didn’t replace the last of the toilet roll, or general time management to fit everything into one day when you are being asked where the new toner is.

Our biggest challenge in 2019 was recruiting and retaining new team members to support our growth as well as overall staff wellbeing. People don’t realise the pressure we put ourselves under with having such tight deadlines, competitive pricing and, at times, unreasonable client demands of printing the impossible within those parameters. It’s no wonder that some of us suffer from stress and anxiety. As an employer I see it as my role to make sure coming to work is both enjoyable and rewarding to get the best from the team.

Time for change

2019 was a real turning point for Allwag Promotions in terms of wellbeing. At the start of the year a couple of our team found themselves suffering from mental health issues resulting in long-term sick leave. However, their journey was a real eye opener for us and shocked us into understanding far more about how each individual often suffers without speaking to anyone, which only makes the matter worse. As conscientious as we might be, it can start to become impossible to separate your personal life from your work life, allowing everything to spill over.

As a result of realising our teams weren’t aware of the best way to deal with mental health issues, Allwag encouraged the BPMA to put on two workshops on mental health, with contributions from a specialised lawyer and a doctor, who talked about the implications for employers, as well as how and why it happened. This combination was enlightening and frightening too.

The workshop became a great forum for discussing real life situations and how, as an employer, you could support someone in need whilst simultaneously maintaining a level of professional distance.

Shared learning

Following on from the workshop Allwag Promotions created a wellbeing programme which we launched with a Wellbeing Breakfast at our local country club to share some of our learnings of why we suffer and focussing on what we can do to ease these pressures. We have seen tremendous success as a result. We now offer a fabulous wellbeing package including subsidised gym membership, discounted treatments at a local beauty salon, private healthcare options for all staff, fresh fruit each day, the installation of a water machine on both sites, plus encouraging the team to bring in a homemade lunch too.

Our away day at Woburn Safari Park included a workshop with Katie Hart of consultancy Rhetoric who helped us understand why we do what we do and how to take the pressure off ourselves. The team were able to work with one another, get to know more about each-other and learn something about themselves.

Days to remember

We introduced Motivational Monday to kick start everyone’s week, Wellbeing Wednesday focussing on a different aspect of mindfulness and personal development each week, and to finish the week is Feel good Friday, where we do something good for others. Feel good Friday has seen us do lots of fundraising challenges and we were proud to donate more than £2,000 to great charities (£1,200 to MIND, £440 to Action Duchenne, £500 to Sanctus, £250 to Prostrate Cancer) plus time each week to support Sanctus, a local homeless charity that serves food and offers support and rehabilitation to those in need. We also donated jackets, clothing and food to both the local food banks and Sanctus to help others in need.

Alongside this, we have created a wellbeing panel that each team-member has the opportunity to take part in on a monthly rotation. The panel put forward and implemented ideas for the overall wellbeing programme.

Lift the mood

On a lighter note, we have done some really bizarre, team building things including a laughter yoga workshop with Phil Scofield and Holly Willoughby from This Morning. leading the way, a gingerbread house decorating competition, a Team Treasure Hunt around the local village and no end of dressing up challenges. We have also had a lot of fun putting together this year’s programme which we hope will help us all. These smaller initiatives are completely led by team members because we wanted everyone to have the chance to have their ideas and involvement heard.

Everyone who has so far been on our wellbeing panel has reported feeling a sense of achievement as a result of knowing they are helping others in one form or another. Without a shadow of a doubt, we would encourage every organisation of every size to analyse and implement a wellbeing programme. Looking after your staff allows for them to look after your business. We have seen that by supporting team members on a personal level, the loyalty and quality of their work has increased and we have a culture that encourages honesty and genuine respect on a personal and professional level. Last, but not least, by learning to look after the team, we have learned to look after ourselves, meaning that getting the milk and running out for toilet paper is just a little less stressful.

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