D&I and Wellbeing

DI&W Summary Notes: Building Resilience in HR

  • March 20, 2024

On 14th March CRF hosted an online event for its Diversity, Inclusivity and Wellbeing (DI&W) community on the topic of building resilience in HR. Facilitated by Melissa Bull, CRF’s Commercial Director, and Emily Saltmer, Wellbeing and Leadership Coach, the event focused on a multi-dimensional approach to wellbeing (including mental, physical, and financial aspects) and how HR can deal with the stresses associated with caring for the workforce.  These notes summarise the key takeaways from the event.

Wellbeing Overview
During the session, Emily Saltmer outlined the following key points regarding wellbeing:

  • It is very common for people to suffer from poor mental health, burnout or severe stress at some point in their careers.
  • Wellbeing is not only about physical health – it also encompasses mental, emotional and financial health. It is a topic that touches all areas of the employee experience.
  • People can be more preventative in ensuring they do not reach the stage of burnout. Creating a positive, focused and productive mindset (facilitated by good physical and mental health) supports this.
  • A key aspect part of wellbeing is feeling safe, both physically and psychologically. Feeling trusted and respected helps employees to feel psychologically safe.
  • HR professionals tend to operate in the space of processes, policy and metrics. Whilst these are important, practitioners should also think with their ‘gut’ – consider what is important to you and what values you have, and use this to guide decisions.

Supporting Wellbeing through Flexibility and Autonomy
Members shared how they support their own wellbeing, with a particular emphasis on creating autonomy and purpose in their jobs. They also shared how their organisations are supporting the wellbeing of employees, with a focus on providing flexibility and autonomy regarding working practices:

  • One participant shared that their organisation trusts employees to make decisions about where and when they work, which has resulted in strong feedback about feeling trusted and empowered.
  • Similarly, another participant highlighted how, post-Covid, they have encouraged teams to decide for themselves how often they should be on site, resulting in a cultural shift towards more informal peer challenge and collaboration. Whilst HR received requests to create prescriptive policies, they successfully maintained this approach and encouraged managers and teams to decide what works best for them and their customers.
  • Another key lesson shared was taking learnings from what worked during the Covid-19 pandemic (e.g. having a meeting whilst going for a walk rather than always in the office) and maintaining these benefits.
  • Emily Saltmer shared how hybrid working can deepen collaboration and social interaction with colleagues, though there needs to be a balance between what works for the individual, the team and the organisation’s larger purpose.

Building HR Resilience

  • Participants shared how expectations on HR have recently increased. In particular, HR increasingly supported the mental and physical health of employees during the Covid-19 pandemic and this has now become the expectation. Supporting employees and their families through traumatic personal issues can be a huge mental burden on HR professionals.
  • Members emphasised the need to reset boundaries and clarify HR’s role and responsibilities, particularly in managing medical issues. Upskilling may also be required if HR practitioners are to work in these areas, which require specialist skills which generalists may not be prepared for.
  • Managers often do not feel equipped to deal with wellbeing issues, and so pass them onto HR. There is therefore a need for clear guidance, tools, and support for managers and employees to handle wellbeing issues so that the default is not always for HR to be responsible.
  • One member shared how they centred one-to-ones with their team on questions such ‘how do you feel?’ or ‘how this situation has impacted you personally?’ in order to encourage people to be vulnerable.  
  • Other challenges include not being clear who in their organisation owns the wellbeing strategy and actions taken by leadership which can contradict wellbeing messaging (e.g. overloading people with work).

Wellbeing and Technology  

  • Technology can be used to show leadership the ROI of wellbeing initiatives. This has its challenges as positive impacts of wellbeing initiatives are not usually measurable in the short term. However, there are certain metrics that can be measured (e.g. engagement or employee net promoter scores).  
  • Technology tools can be a helpful way for employees to structure their working day in a way that best suits them and supports their wellbeing. It’s important to recognise that different ways of working suit different individuals (e.g. some employees may actually find working out of hours less stressful).
  • Emotional intelligence is becoming a more important skill to leverage the benefits of technology.

Further Resources
CRF. 2020. Let’s Get (Beyond) Physical – Crafting a Multidimensional Approach to Employee Wellbeing
CRF. 2024. Reskilling for Sustainable Growth

The next DI&W community event will take place on June 13th, with further details to be shared in due course.

To register your interest, or if you have any further questions, please contact communities@crforum.co.uk



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