This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation. The theme of 2020 is focusing on the power and potential of kindnesswhich feels more important than ever when so many are coping with and recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.  Take a look at the actions and steps M247 have taken during this time to support our colleagues to maintain a healthy work-life balance. 

Both the mass move to working from home for many of our colleagues and the furloughing of a small proportion of our workforce has presented many challenges and additional stresses, so addressing, and protecting our mental health is now more important than ever. 

Listening to our colleagues and a wellbeing survey

Two weeks after the shift to working from home (a shift the organisation made earlier than most to minimise the spread of the virus) M247 created a ‘wellbeing survey’, to help the organisation better understand how colleagues were working and feeling and identify any areas that required additional support or improvement.  

The results of this survey showed that even though 97% of colleagues found the transition to working from home smooth, nearly half said they were finding it difficult to adjust to this new working environment. The negative effects of this change in environment have included increased isolation and loneliness, a struggle to maintain a work-life balance, lack of structure or routine, and those with children struggling to find the balance between parent and teacher. To support those colleagues struggling to adjust it was clear that M247 needed to immediately increase the frequency of communication across the organisation. 

Building on a solid mental health plan foundation

Mental health has always been a key focus for M247; the outbreak of COVID-19 has simply meant an extension of existing activity and initiatives. This is evident when 95% colleagues agree that M247 demonstrates commitment to the wellbeing of colleagues during this unprecedented time.  

In 2019 M247 invested in training for a number of mental health first aiders within our organisation, with plans to invest in more in the futureIn April these individuals collaborated with our People Team to create a COVID-19 specific three-month mental health plan, and a colleague wellbeing toolkit focused on ‘Stay Well, Stay Safe, and Stay Connected’. 

Additionally, a specific working group was created to ensure increased attention on internal comms across the business. The internal comms team created a comprehensive, structured plan, building on existing internal activity and implementing many new initiatives: 

  • Regular email communication from the organisation (ranging from advisory emails with tips and guidance on working from home and wellbeing, to fact-based COVID-19 key updates directly corresponding with government guidance). 
  • Weekly live webinars with CEO, Jenny Davies (giving business updates and ‘feel good’ news). 
  • Multiple live virtual Q&A sessions for all colleagues and managers, with the CEO and People Director. 
  • Weekly virtual ‘lunch and learn’ sessions whereby colleagues are given an insight into different functions across the organisation. 
  • Weekly quizzes, available to all colleagues 
  • Increased interaction and sharing on the organisation’s internal social networking platform, Yammer. 
  • A fortnightly newsletter, rounding up all the internal activity detailed above. 

It was important to M247 that any colleagues furloughed were kept up to date, as necessary and as permitted by the government guidance; all furloughed colleagues have been invited to be included in social events and sent any collateral relating to mental health and wellbeing.  

“From very early on in the corona crisis, it was clear M247’s priority was our safety. There was no hesitation sending us to work from home, and since then, the internal communications have been fantastic. Very regular, keeping us updated with business decisions, ensuring we can ask our CEO any questions, and importantly encouraging us to look after ourselves in and providing us with the support we need in this completely unprecedented time. Thank you M247!”  Rowan, M247 Colleague

An evolving landscape for the future of work

With the landscape of what a return to the office may look like and an acceptance that the ‘new normal’ may be an evolving one M247 has started this planning in earnest. The organisation acknowledges that each and every colleague will have differing views, needs and priorities in this process. Working closely with government guidance and colleague input will help shape the initial reintegration plan.  

‘”At M247 we continue to embrace our colleagues as individuals, whilst recognising the pressures and strain that exists, both in our working and personal lives. With this in mind, we acknowledge the need to support our colleagues to maintain a healthy work-life balance. We have chosen a proactive, people centric approach to wellbeing, being acutely aware that solutions are not “one size fits all. M247 remains committed to embracing a happy and healthy agile workforce and will continue to invest in our people to ensure our continued success.”

Jenny Davies, CEO 

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