In the first two blogs, we outlined how the global pandemic has had a major impact on mental health; how loneliness – the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 – can lead to mental health issues and other anxieties; and shone a spotlight on a charity we support who offers counselling.
In this last blog, we are discussing how we at ILX Group have been supporting our employees and what we plan on doing next.
Firstly, we understand the difficulties facing both organisations and individuals, especially when we and most of our customers all had to quickly pivot to working from home. Working from home brought great benefits but also provided new challenges, including: feelings of disconnect, the stress of balancing professional life with our personal lives and the general stress and anxiety that came with trying to do our jobs during a pandemic and not in the office.
But it was not just us. Research conducted by The Royal Society for Public Health found in 2021 that although 45% of people found working from home was good for their mental health, the speed in which it happened because of COVID-19 meant 67% felt less connected to colleagues.
Furthermore, 46% of respondents got less exercise than before, 39% developed musculoskeletal problems and 37% suffered disturbed sleep.
Also, 56% people found they could not switch off when working from home and only 34% of respondents felt supported at work by their employer.
When the pandemic started and the world went into lockdown, we wanted to do our bit to support our employees and customers. So, we ran a series of webinars to help people cope with the huge changes we were all going through, particularly in our working lives. Delivered by business psychologist and expert trainer, Nick Winston, we ran sessions on ‘Resilience and surviving change’, ‘Leading virtual teams’, ‘Crisis management’, ‘Leading change’ and ‘Emerging challenges for L&D and HR leads’.
As highlighted in the first blog, feeling lonely can be triggered by life events. We have therefore spent the last two years working on our approach to diversity, equality, inclusion and wellbeing, looking at positive changes we can make as a business to ensure our employees feel included, and do not feel like they have to hide any part of their identity. Learn more about our group here.
We also ran a survey to understand the demographic of our business, take a look at our infographic.
As you’ll have read in our second blog, we wanted to start giving back. So, last year we created a working group and selected two charities to raise money for – Don’t Lose Hope and Cardiomyopathy UK. We have run three fundraising activities so far, including hiking up Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. Discover how we got on here, and you can also donate via our Just Giving Page.
To support our diversity and inclusion initiative, we created a series of podcasts for series 4 discussing: age, disability, gender, race and ethnicity, mental health, religion, sexuality and two on starting the conversation. On each podcast, we had a mix of employees, including our Managing Director, and people from our personal and professional networks who identified with the various areas of diversity we were covering. They are available to listen on our website or Apple, Spotify and Stitcher.
This year we wanted to demonstrate how women can be supported in the workplace when they are going through the menopause, as research found that more than one million women in the UK consider leaving work because they lack menopause support. You can watch our Sales Director telling her personal story here on our YouTube channel.
One of our key next initiatives is to develop mental health first aiders. We have first aiders in the workplace, but it is not common to have them for mental health. We are really excited about this and will tell you more over the coming months.
All of these initiatives were launched over the last two years to help support our colleagues during the pandemic. But to start making changes, we have needed people to lead and be those early adopters. It takes real strength and courage to talk about these issues, and the openness of our senior leadership team and other employees across the business have provided that platform by sharing their stories. Which has helped to change perceptions and demonstrate that being open is not a sign of weakness, when often this might be a reason why these issues are not discussed more.
Find out more about ILX Group here.
Sign up to our webinar ‘Understanding and overcoming Anxiety and Loneliness’ on Thursday 9 June 2022 from 12pm to 1pm (BST) here.
Read the rest in our series of blogs:
The global pandemic and the impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing
Don’t Lose Hope: a free and affordable professional counselling service for all members of the community