With the challenging times we’ve all experienced this year, staying on top of both mental and physical health has never been more important.
Supporting good health and wellbeing for our team and their families is something that we have always seen as a priority.
Last month the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) at Sheffield Hallam University, in conjunction with Field Enterprise and our own Chairman Dr Rich Field, launched a new health and wellbeing leadership programme. We’re delighted to not only be one of the first businesses to join the programme but to have been able to play an important role in its conception throughout the year.
It’s something I personally have a real passion for, and the opportunity to discover how else we could support our team was something I was keen to be part of.
Before we embark on the first set of courses in the new year, I wanted to explain why we chose to get involved with the programme, and what we hope this can achieve in the weeks and months ahead.
Anyone who is involved with a business will know that it’s the people at the heart of your organisation that make you what you are. Crucially, they can only hope to deliver their best when they are in the right condition, both physically and mentally.
I remember my Dad telling me stories about his years working at the famed Sheffield steel works, where long hours of demanding, physical labour were the norm, with little thought given to the wellbeing of workers. A short break at lunchtime was about the best they could hope for in those days, but sadly that’s the way things were then.
Thankfully, today things are different, and employee wellbeing is something that is at the forefront for many businesses, including our own. We’ve already implemented plenty of initiatives internally to help provide our people with a better work life balance, whether that be an extra day off on their birthday, one late start a week on a day of their choosing, and more recently, the flexibility to continue working from home if preferred.
While the team are grateful for what we are able to offer, we are always looking to do more, which is why our Chairman Dr Field proposed that we should get involved with the new leadership programme being developed with Sheffield Hallam University.
The programme is designed for business leaders, and intends to share new skills and best practice to help create a new group of health and wellbeing leaders at organisations across Sheffield. Armed with new insights, these leaders can share their learnings with colleagues, and drive the implementation of new initiatives to better support their teams.
Following the invitation to come onboard at the start of this year, we were engaged to support the programme by sharing our own insights into what we felt should be covered, and how this should be delivered to others like us. This was ahead of an anticipated launch later in 2020, but like so many projects this year, the outbreak of COVID-19 threw an unwanted spanner in the works to delay the eventual launch.
Thankfully, through the hard work of Field Enterprise, the Sheffield Hallam AWRC team led by Professor Robert Copeland, as well as support from Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis, the setbacks were successfully negotiated, and the initial programme has now been confirmed, with first sessions due to get underway in March 2021.
While the course is aimed at Business Leaders initially, the long-term aim is that this programme is made available to a much wider demographic.
We hope that as new health and wellbeing leaders emerge from the course, they can continue to spread important messages not just within their own organisation, but throughout the wider community.
Ultimately, it’s about helping to grow a culture where taking the time to look out for yourself and others is encouraged, and more is done across the board to help support better health and wellbeing for all.
In addition, it’s hoped that with the support of a healthier and happier community, businesses can make the best possible recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a wellbeing-driven economy built on a thriving workforce.
As for our own objectives, I’m looking forward to attending the first sessions in 2021 and we are looking to enrol the rest of our management team on subsequent courses early next year.
We want to take what lessons we can from the like-minded individuals in attendance, as well as the knowledge from the health and wellbeing experts delivering the course so that we can refine and develop our own approach internally.
In time, the new practices we learn will become a part of our DNA, creating a renewed culture powered by strategies that put the needs of our people first.
If you’d like to learn more about the programme, read the full press release here.