Webinar: The cost of living, net pay, and smarter buying decisions

Mar 21, 2022 11:00 AM GMT

On Monday 21st March, Gethin Nadin, Chief Innovation Officer for Benefex, is joined by Megan Sowney, Wrkit Managing Director for a discussion around the unfolding cost of living crisis and ways employers can help their people save more of their hard-earned net pay through behavioural change. They’ll cover:
• What we know about the cost-of-living crisis and why it’s going to get worse
• The need for employees to make smarter buying decisions
• The resurgence of discounts as part of the financial wellbeing strategy

Managing the fall out – supporting staff during the Ukrainian war

2022 has begun with the ending of the global pandemic and now the very challenging and ever unfolding conflict in Ukraine. While wellbeing and mental health have been key factors for all organisations in the last number of years, these events require many businesses and leaders to once again pivot to meet these new challenges.

It is a testament to our living and working in a truly global economy and a globally integrated workforce that the weight of this crisis is far reaching. Companies working outside of Russia have had to examine how they work with Russian companies and clients, as well as staff and colleagues impacted by the crisis in Ukraine.

While it has brought home how connected we are today, it is also highlighting how many people can be affected by an event that is happening in another part of the world. As consumers for example, many of us are being affected in a very direct way with seeing the prices at the petrol pumps increasing daily. Businesses may see many of their staff are also directly affected in their day-to-day interactions with other teams and other colleagues personally connected with this conflict.

Business Decisions

Once the position of the Business has been determined with regard the level of impact of this crisis, the Human Resources department and all managers need to respond to this decision quickly. Appropriate communications and policies need to be put in place, alongside the challenging task of both reassuring staff about ongoing business requirements during this conflict, while also putting in place sanctions that will certainly affect business as usual and in some cases dramatically affect certain teams.

On the Ground

Added to this is the more complex world of human relationships. It is here, above all else, that care needs to be taken. While many of us may be very close to and familiar with a number of our colleagues, in a large organisation there are many more that we do not know very well and do not know very much about and therefore we won’t know their family of origin, their place of birth, their ancestry, and indeed their identification choices – let alone those of their partners and wider families.

Global teams mean global influences and while the conflict in Ukraine continues to escalate, it is very important for managers and staff to be provided with support that adequately reflects the dilemma that many teams and a wider variety of staff now find themselves in, when being asked not to work with Russian businesses and Russian teams.

Effectively one day business as usual has become no business at all with a certain region. This will create many questions, a fair bit of discomfort and quite a few difficult conversations.

Deeper still, it is difficult to know who of the staff identify with being Russian, or identify with friends and relatives in Ukraine, or who identify with other counties that are also touched by a history of conflict?  What of the other colleagues and teammates who now find themselves caught up in this turmoil? How best as a business can you respond to them?

Effective Support

The reality is there is no quick solution. While the fall out of the invasion of Ukraine sinks in and the future of the war is uncertain, it is time to think about what to put in place for staff to help them navigate this new territory. While many companies have access to Employee Assistance Programmes, it is worthwhile to consider implementing a programme of specific training and a set of dialogues relating to this conflict. Proactively helping to both normalise many of the emotions and reactions that staff and leaders will be feeling, while also providing effective support around how to have the necessary conversations and how to be mindful of people’s individual experience of this crisis.

The importance of this support is to create insights for staff. To help them keep in mind not just the natural reaction to ‘what’ is happening, but a more intricate understanding of the ‘who’ is being affected, in a wider sense, which is not always obvious.

A little can go a long way, and proactive support in this area can curb a lot of distress. Avoiding the hurt that be experienced when we neglect to consider what is being said about the conflict in the context of the audience.

The role of the leader once again is key here, like it was during the challenges of Covid, and the need to be able to provide the key messaging to help staff navigate these turbulent times once again.

If you and your staff would like some supportive training, email wrkitwellbeing@wrkit.com  

Seeking Advice from Inspirational Women?

Look no further this International Women’s Day

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘break the bias’. In celebration of the day, Wrkit’s Digital Wellbeing Manager, Louise Nixon, reached out to some of the inspirational women that she has had the pleasure of working with over the years, asking if they had any advice they would like to share. Below are some truly inspiring pearls of wisdom that were expressed by these successful women.

“I believe that you have to live something to truly learn what you want and what’s best for you. Just over 5 years ago I made a career change after 20 years working in engineering. I went back to college and qualified in Nutrition. If I was to offer some advice to my younger self, I would say, do what you enjoy, what you gravitate to naturally. Working in something that you love, makes it easier to get up and face your working day.

I would also say what you do now, does not have to define you forever. You always have options, to change, retrain, educate, and start again, doing something different. You do not have to stay in one career, you can plan and make a change. When starting again you are not starting from zero, you bring life skills and life lessons, which you will always use, often in ways you would never have thought possible.”

Marie Donnellan, Registered Assoc Nutritionist and Director at Ciall Health

“It is also OK to be not OK as a Leader. In a week where I have struggled and felt truly alone that doesn’t mean I stay there. True resilience is that when you feel alone or broken, you have the toolkit to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back to your awesome self. So, this International Women’s Day, I wish you to find that toolkit, mirror the people you admire, gather your strength around you like a clock and have the courage to ask for help or just to talk. So be amazing in 2022.”

Kate Martin (FCIPD), Regional HR Head – Europe, Russia & CIS at VFS Global

Research by Venture Capitalist Mass Challenge showed that for every $1 investment in businesses run by a men-only Board generated 31c, for every business with women on the Board it’s 76c – showing that women are statistically proven to be key contributors to business success.

With this in mind (and many more reports that are instantly searchable), always look at the job description and see the things you can already do – not the things you can’t. You’ll get much further, much faster and are statistically proven to achieve much more.”

Megan Sowney, Group Managing Director at Wrkit

“Don’t be afraid to try new things and push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to fail, either: it’s often how we learn the most. Ask for help where you need it but be confident in your own abilities too. You bring something else to the table that no one else does, in your own unique blend of skills and experience, and that is something to be celebrated.”

Kathryn Kendall (FCIPD), Chief People Officer at Benefex

“On reflection, I feel the biggest lesson I have learnt along the way has been in learning to understand and set personal boundaries. When you are showing up every day out of alignment with your beliefs, your values, what motivates you, and rewards you, it manifests as stress, anxiety and ultimately burnout. It took an episode of extreme burnout for me to sit down and really ask myself honestly, ‘How do I want to feel every day?’, ‘What are the behaviours I am not OK with?’, ‘Does this work make me happy?’

Being honest with myself about what I would and wouldn’t accept gave me the confidence and integrity to push back when I felt those boundaries were being challenged.  I have also learned that people are not mind readers, you have to take responsibility to say how you feel in situations where you are uncomfortable. It can feel scary to begin with, but the more you practise it, from a place of integrity, the easier it becomes.

So, take a Moment, take the time to really be honest with yourself about what feels right and know that a ‘No’ can take you just as far, and make you as happy, as a ‘Yes’.”

Fiona McKinnon, CEO & Co Founder of Moment Company

This International Women’s Day let’s celebrate women’s achievement and recognise that together we can #BeatTheBias. Share this article with a colleague, friend, sister, mother, or daughter to inspire and motivate them.

Social Isolation and How Our Ability to Connect Has Been Challenged

Reopening and Reconnecting

With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, it has given us the chance to socially reconnect with people we may not have seen in a long time. While this is an exciting stage in our lives following the lockdowns, it may also be quite overwhelming for some. We have been socially isolating for a long time and the transition to reconnecting with others may take a bit of time to readjust.

The Wrkit Global Working From Home (WFH) Survey gathered feedback from employees who were WFH across many countries during the pandemic. This has allowed for a deeper understanding about the challenges and benefits employees faced while WFH, particularly the impact on employees living away from their home country. The survey revealed that many people WFH in their home countries did at times feel lonely but also rated feeling more connected to friends and family than feeling isolated.

Researchers have found that there are a wide range of benefits that stem from regularly connecting with others, particularly others we care about. For example, it has been discovered that social connectedness helps improve quality of life, relieve harmful levels of stress, boost mental health, and significantly decrease the risk of suicide.

Tips for Avoiding Social Isolation and Staying Connected

  • Check in with People You Know

When you’ve been isolating, it’s easy to feel that people you know are doing just fine and may not like to hear from you. This is a common reinforcing negative loop brought on by loneliness, and it’s usually untrue. Challenging these negative assumptions is an important first step and it is better to just go ahead and reach out to people you know and see what happens.

  • Practice Self-Care

It goes without saying that if feeling isolated or lonely it is important to maintain a good level of self-care. Finding time to be social, alongside time to rest well, eat well, getting exercise and taking adequate breaks all combine to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Getting back into being social again can mean more alcohol intake, late nights and rich food; so best to be mindful of balance as you readjust to an open society again.

  • Choose the Right Living and Working Situation

If you are working from home and living alone and are finding that you are struggling with isolation and loneliness, take action to make changes and see what the options are. Although you might not be able to move house, or your normal working office space may have changed, it is important to plan ahead and find ways to meet with colleagues in person. This could be booking time in the office as it reopens or planning social gatherings.

  • Develop Friendships at Work

Work relationships can help you to feel more connected to others. Overall, people with better co-worker relationships have lower self-reported loneliness scores. Ask a colleague if they would like to go for a coffee or, if you’re working from home, make the effort to give them a call rather than an email and share some casual chit-chat.

  • Find Ways to Participate in Your Community

Social groups like book clubs, choirs, and sporting groups are a great source of social interaction. Anyone can feel isolated at times and, while this is ok, everyone can benefit from community and group participation.

  • Keep a Journal

If you find you are struggling with feelings of social isolation, try writing down the thoughts that are going through your head. Then make a list of things that you enjoy doing and bring you happiness. These can be simple, small things like going for a walk, reading, or listening to music. When you notice negative thoughts and feelings creeping up, have a look in your journal and try one of your suggestions.

It’s important to remember that just because you are feeling socially isolated and alone does not mean that you are alone. There are people that care and want to know how you are feeling. There simply are times that you might have to make the first move and although it may be challenging, it’s proven to pay off in the long run and staying connected is good for everyone.

Benefex announces acquisition of Wrkit

Benefex + Wrkit

After a year of exceptional growth, today Benefex (a Zellis company) has acquired the employee engagement, wellbeing and discounts platform, Wrkit.

10th January 2022, LONDON – Benefex is acquiring Wrkit and its entire product set including employee discounts, wellbeing, recognition and communication tools which combine to support employees both in and out of work. The Wrkit teams in Ireland, the UK and Australia will join Benefex as part the acquisition.

The Wrkit product supports over half a million employees across 300 organisations. Having built the market-leading offering in Ireland, the business has experienced significant growth in the UK and globally over the last few years. The pandemic has further driven demand from employers focused on helping their employees’ money go further, looking after their wellbeing and engaging them in a more remote working environment.  

On announcing the deal, Adam Mason, Global VP at Benefex, who led the transaction said, “This is an exciting acquisition for Benefex. Having successfully integrated the Capita employee benefits business in the last 12 months, the Zellis Group continues to invest heavily to help us build out our world class product suite. OneHub has a huge role to play in supporting organisations to deliver their people strategy in the new world of work.”

Benefex Founder & CEO Matt Macri-Waller said “Having worked in partnership with Wrkit over the last few years, we have seen the passion and customer focus of every person in the business. Bringing the entire Wrkit team and product into our business further supports our mission to help every employee have an exceptional experience, every day. By adding an employee discount offering, a behavioural-science-led wellbeing platform and new communications tools to the OneHub product suite, we can help every customer solve more of their employee engagement challenges than ever before.”

Peter Jenkinson, Founder and CEO at Wrkit, commented, “To date, Wrkit and Benefex have developed a market leading partnership. We are now deployed with over 50 Benefex customers. The combined Benefex/Wrkit offering will enhance the already world class OneHub suite, creating the opportunity for new and exciting tools and, we believe, serve Benefex customers with our best-in-market Employee Discounts, Wellbeing, Move and Learning products. This is the culmination of an exciting first chapter for the Wrkit team but  the start of an even more exciting one with Benefex.

Macri-Waller added, “Our customers’ roles in their organisations continue to expand. Increasing demands are being placed on them each year. This acquisition reinforces our commitment to continue to invest in products and innovations that help our customers solve their largest people challenges.

—ENDS—

Benefex media enquiries
Sally Winter
Email: hello@hellobenefex.com 

About Benefex

Benefex is the company behind OneHub, the award-winning employee experience platform. Supporting the employee benefits, recognition and communication for over 1.5 million employees in 650 organisations across 70 countries, Benefex’s OneHub platform is transforming how people experience work every day.

Benefex has won over 50 awards for delivering consumer-grade employee experiences to global organisations including AstraZeneca, Bank of America, BT, Centrica, Capita, Diageo, EDF, Just Eat, Liberty Global, Ocado, Philips, Salesforce and Snowflake.

Find out more at www.hellobenefex.com

About Wrkit

Wrkit through its proprietary technology, delivers learning, wellbeing, recognition and lifestyle savings options which combine to support employees both in and out of work. The Wrkit platform is trusted by over 300 organisations, supporting the provision of core elements of their people strategy.

Across Wrkit’s customer base, it provides access to its modules to over 500,000 employees, which includes brands such as Bank of Ireland, Coca Cola, Deloitte, Hays, IBM, KPMG, Oracle and Vodafone.

About Zellis Group

Zellis Group is the leading provider of payroll and HR software, managed services, and benefits management for companies of every size across the UK and Republic of Ireland. The group comprises three businesses: Zellis, the largest provider of payroll and core HR software and services for businesses with more than 1000 employees; Moorepay, which provides payroll and HCM software and services for SMBs with 50 to 1000 employees, and Benefex, which through its platform OneHub, supports all organisations with employee benefits, recognition and communications. Zellis is a privately owned company with over two thousand employees in the UK, Republic of Ireland and India.

This year we are celebrating International Womens Day by showcasing women in leadership.

V is an experienced tech leader, presently leading and growing Slack Engineering teams in EMEA. She works in complex environments and thrives on bringing people from multiple disciplines together to create robust and resilient applications. Having previously led engineering teams in Spotify, she is passionate about leading and growing high performing teams and achieving the best possible results through collaboration and empowerment. She thrives on the ability to convert learning into tangible actions that lift team capability and is a champion for change. She consistently supports, educates and encourages her team through the change process.

Hi V, what advice would you give to women who want to be leaders?

Now is a great time to be or become a female leader. With so many companies embracing diversity and inclusion there are lots of opportunities to step up and into leadership. For companies today, inclusion is not just about getting the numbers right, it is about leveraging unique experiences, creating real opportunities for diversity and seeking out other points of view. Women have a huge amount to offer organisations, in leading teams at all levels and being actively engaged in company boards. The opportunities are far greater now than ever and women can confidently go for these roles.

What has helped you build your confidence in the workplace?

Knowing my strengths really well and relying on them. One of the key strengths that I know I have and that others have acknowledged in me, is that I am a relational person. People and connection are really important to me. This has helped me be a strong collaborator, as I seek out my team members’ ideas and opinions, and I rely on their feedback, as well as looking to others who have experience and provide input and guidance. Often I am not the most experienced in the room on a certain topic, so I look to my other members to chip in and I help support their growth and confidence to do this – whether it is presentation skills, critical or strategic thinking etc. So another key strength is openness and a willingness to learn, sometimes then being in a support role as a leader.

Amongst the women you’ve worked with, what are some of their traits you admire?

I really admire women that are inclusive of difference, kind to others in the workplace and supportive of other female leader journeys. I am particularly interested in the support and growth of other women leaders as I have experienced this in my leadership journeys. Leaders who were willing to take a chance on me and to provide a guiding hand when needed, to speak up for my competence. These female leaders help bring our voice and influence to the table.

Can you name a woman who has inspired you the most?

Cliche I know, but I would have to say my mother. She came from a difficult background, worked really hard and made me feel like I could be or do anything in life. Like the female leaders I admire, she actively encouraged me and did not put obstacles in my way. She helped facilitate me and my sister being the first in our family to go to university.

Another inspiration to me is former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I loved how she could articulate issues of diversity so well and so clearly, with the skill of keeping the dialogue open, non-threatening and moving forward.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned as a female leader?

In my role I am learning all the time, as it is a fast paced ever changing landscape, so I have learned to be myself. With so much rapidly changing and with Covid being a good example of needing to be able to adapt quickly, I have learned to rely on my own abilities. I don’t shy away from or apologise for being a woman. I openly share my challenges and experiences as a woman in tech. Openness and vulnerability is a strength and I trust that whenever I am honest and vulnerable with my team they are there for me, as I am for them.

What are some strategies that can help women achieve success in the workplace, especially in male-dominated industries?

Seek out mentors. Consider a more senior male from your company as a mentor. They can help you navigate the internal landscape and help you unlock your impact. In return, you may open their eyes to some of the struggles women face and help them by becoming an ally for other women. With other female leaders I encourage them to also be a good ally for other women along the way, so more women are encouraged into leadership and the numbers get better.

What do you think are the biggest challenges ahead for the next generation of female leaders?

The biggest challenge I see is women trusting their own inner voices and embracing the unique aspects of female presence, female experience and acknowledging them as both personal and organizational assets.

Can you recall any biases or assumptions made about you?

I have seen times when I am held to a higher standard than my male counterparts or when I feel like I have to prove myself over and over again. Sadly, I have seen this play out around project assignments – e.g. This project is tough. We better give it to Bob. Although this may be happening unconsciously, it is an impediment to female leaders as they need to be given a chance to show what they can do. Leaders, whether male or female, need to open the doors wider to give women that chance to prove themselves. When we do this more often, I believe the culture will be enriched for our doing so.

October Wellbeing Workshops

Globally 2020 has been the most significant Wellness focused year of all time

In this year full of COVID Challenges, Wrkit is here to help. This October celebrate human health and wellbeing with Wrkit, as we focus on a variety of wellness events and workshops in connection with World Mental Health Day.

A leading employee benefits provider, we can help you arrange speakers, supports and events to celebrate not just Mental Health lone, but a whole spectrum of human health.

Workshop Series Topics (Interactive Webinars, each lasting 40 – 60 minutes)

  • Covid Mindfulness
    Learn to appreciate and practise calming techniques during episodes of COVID worry
  • Anxiety Management
    Learn how to recognise and manage worrying or anxiety provoking thoughts
  • Reframe with a Positive Mindset
    Explore ways to look at life during a challenging time differently, with a positive mindset
  • Coping with Uncertainty
    Manage the uncertainty of reopening of schools and workplaces with some practical psychological tools
  • Setbacks and disappointments
    Learn to manage a variety of disappointments related to COVID with a selection of mind enhancing techniques

Contact Details

Jason Brennan
CTA in Psychotherapy, BA in Psychoanalysis, Certificate in Humanities, CBT practitioner’s cert, Member: IAHIP, TAI, EATA, ITAA

Tel 089 6127812 | Email jason.brennan@wrkit.com | Web wrkit.com

Jason Brennan is a coach and psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience. He supports clients suffering from anxiety, depression, stress, grief & loss, trauma, relationship issues, short and long-term therapy, obsessive thinking, lifestyle, work, and life stage challenges.

He authored his first book Win: Proven Strategies for Success in Sports, Life and Mental Health with friend and mental health advocate Brent Pope – having worked with corporate and sports teams of all levels providing training, workshops, and coaching.

Stress awareness with others

Now many weeks into lockdown, most of us are adapting well to the new way of working and being social in more creative ways. It is without doubt that for everyone it has been a struggle at times and although the lockdown parameters will be loosening over the next month, it is still a very challenging time for staff, managers, colleagues, parents, families and children.

COVID-19 is a truly global experience with so many countries clearly affected and having to adapt as best they can. Each household has its own unique set of challenges with individuals self-isolating on their own, single parents working and trying their best to manage alone, large families having both parents working and juggling childcare with the disappearance of supports like school or day care and having to try and work and educate at the same time. There are also many people isolating by themselves and at times challenged by the loneliness and repetitiveness of each day.

The stress and strain on everyone is real and is being felt in all households throughout the country. So, it is extremely important to be mindful when connecting with colleagues and staff working from home, to be conscious and alert to some of what is happening for them emotionally, psychologically, and physically.

After the first two weeks of lockdown in the UK, a working from home survey produced these results:
– 60% exercising less
– 60% more fatigued
– 64% acknowledge that worry is affecting sleep
– 41% health concerns for family

Now after 4-6 weeks in, survey stats are showing that:

  • 44% of people currently working from home find they are working longer hours and finding it hard to switch off from work
  • 51% of employees find that they are interrupted during their working day by family members and that multiple roles placed on parents is very challenging  
  • 79% of employees surveyed are missing their usual working environments
  • 89% say missing the socialising with work colleagues ranked as the main reason for this

Spotting employees who are struggling or stressed

*10 Signs an employee may be suffering from stress and anxiety during COVID-19

1. Late to meetings, taking more time off work than usual or general regular lack of communication

2. Greater obvious use of substances such as alcohol, tobacco

3. Increased irritability, poor concentration, reduced productivity

4. Deteriorating personal or work relationships, as experienced directly or indicated by others

5. More ‘emotional’, moody or over-reactive to what others say

6. Acting differently or unusually, that is out of the norm for them, or not being their usual self

7. Changing of eating or sleep patterns and personal appearance such as visible hygiene indicators – consistently not caring so much about appearance

8. Physical reactions such as sweating, fast paced breathing, very nervous, talking anxiously most of the time

9. Feeling continually low, depressed, and focusing on negatives, preoccupied with Covid 19

10. Overly tired and fatigued

What can you do?

If you are worried or concerned about someone’s health and wellbeing, or have received feedback from others who are concerned, the first thing to do is arrange some time to talk with the person one to one, and in the most private and confidential setting as possible. Let them know that you are connecting with them to talk about how they are finding working from home during this challenging time.

Explore what is happening for them and specific areas they are struggling with.

Check in on their wellbeing by asking about their general daily routine and if they are making time to connect with others regularly and getting out to do some exercise.

If you have some concerns, discuss with the person what your concerns are specifically.

Let them know that you are there to help support them and explore ways of doing this. Ask them how you can best help and if they are struggling to come up with ideas, suggest somethings you can do based on the areas that were discussed. Agree a plan and offer various supports available in your organisation such as EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) and ensure you agree to meet again soon after. Agree regular ongoing support meetings for a while, to see positive change occurring.

*Ref: Hughes, R., (2013) 10 Signs an employee may be suffering from stress and anxiety, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) – adapted from.

Building the healthy daily habits for Wellness Success

In recent years there has been a substantial rise in various online and mobile wellness apps. The main areas of focus being on measuring sleep, promoting meditation, engaging in physical exercises such as steps, running or cycling, mood monitoring, an increased awareness of nutritional intake and measuring the effects of positive psychology on thinking and on mood.

Why is this?

Research now shows that the regular practise of a variety of healthy habits can have a significant impact on increasing physical health and psychological wellbeing. Findings show that one of the keys to this is completing some focused wellbeing actives in a manageable and integrated way. The message here is: Little and often.

Various apps such as Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer have been created to attend to many of these areas, as has our employee wellbeing tool POWR – Positive Occupational Wellness Resources which has taken it one step further. Not only does POWR measure overall health and wellbeing, but it provides unique personalised health plans to help easily enhance a person’s overall wellbeing and education. Sitting within POWR are over 420 clinical plans designed to help staff engage with their wellbeing, with built in push technology to provide some much-needed encouragement in achieving greater results. POWR plans target the 6 keys areas of wellbeing – mind, life, work, sleep, active and food; with plans added each month, alongside a huge number of new blogs, articles and videos.

How to get the best from a wellness application?

With an app like POWR and others such as Calm, the design taps into several scientific research findings which shows that key areas to invest in and create healthy habits with are:

  • Regular meditation
  • Focused breathing
  • Mild exercise
  • Positive thinking

The analysis of various research shows that regular meditation significantly improves areas such as stress, anxiety, depression, quality of life, and emotion regulation (mood). Longer term it also improves other areas such as general positivity, self-generated positive emotions and can provide real benefits to close relationships and social outcomes.

Further research shows that regular mild exercise also has a significant effect on psychological wellbeing, while more moderate exercise has a significant effect on depression and anxiety, comparable with usual psychological care. Based on these findings and others, POWR brings this research all together and provides easy access to hundreds of clinical plans in each of the 6 targeted areas, making it accessible, available and easy to log into to work on wellbeing, every single day. With built in meditations, visual and auditory breathing exercises and a positive psychology reinforcing reflection tool, it really supports and promotes the benefits of these finds.

Take the challenge!

POWR is the ideal tool to help employees create healthy habits. To encourage this we have also created the POWR Formula for Success, which includes challenges in the areas of exercise, meditation, positive psychology journalling, wellness and stress relief articles and focused breathing challenges, to complement the 6 pathways in POWR which are always available for users to interact with, complete plans in and grow their wellbeing. This POWR challenge is designed to quickly get staff involved over a two weeks’ timeframe as a company challenge to help them feel healthier, socialise what they are doing, be more active and be more in tune with how they want to be.

Coping with COVID – Appreciating our Humanness

Happy elderly couple having a video call looking involved

This is the 4th in a series of 6 articles on supporting employees during this unusual and difficult time in businesses and in our lives. With the expansion of lockdown and restricted movements, many employees will be realising that this will go on for a while and that the last 4 weeks may become the norm. While most employees will naturally accept the present state of affairs, for many it will be a difficult mindset to adjust to. Some will be feeling anxious, frustrated and worried about the uncertainty the future holds.

It is important therefore to recognise that all Humans react in unique personal ways. We all struggle with and accept big changes in our own time and in our own ways, as we all move along the change curve at different rates and stages.

Many employees over the last few weeks will have enjoyed aspects of working from home, such as getting up later, not having to battle with public transport, more time with family and even getting in a bit of sunbathing. Others will have struggled with the sense of confinement, missing the social aspect of being with colleagues, not able to enjoy their usual coffee routine, their regular exercise groups and lunch catchups. Additional challenges are also appearing for some employees, like having to become a teacher to their children, or single parents isolating alone without their usual support network.

So where are we finding ourselves and what can psychologically help?

For me personally, at the weekend I had a zoom call with a group of friends I met while living abroad. We all zoomed in from different corners of the world – Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. It was wonderful to see them all again but what was really fascinating, was how we were all adapting to the same experience. We were all isolating in our houses, with our families, unable to wander far, working from home as best we can, using similar technology, struggling with similar issues and even talking about the same shows we are watching on TV – sharing further viewing recommendations.

These zoom calls have really deepened my appreciation of this being a truly global and specifically Human event and it is bringing our Humanness to the fore in some very lovely ways. In psychology there is a practice called ‘reframing’ which is a mental skill that is applied often in sports psychology but is also a good strategy to practice in everyday life, especially given the present situation.

Reframing is looking at and thinking about a situation by applying a different ‘psychological’ lens. Literally framing it up differently, putting on a different set of metaphorical spectacles and seeing some of the not so obvious aspects of a situation as positive and beneficial.

To do this, ask yourself:

  • What aspect of this present situation is an improvement?
  • What do I actually like about some of my routine that has changed?
  • What might I like to continue doing more of?
  • How am I learning about myself and my abilities in adapting to this situation?

Some quick reflections might be:

  • Liking more time with family, which is helping with relationships
  • The lack of commuting is a welcomed relief for me and for the planet
  • I am getting to know my neighbours more and creating a better connection with my community
  • I am thinking more about how others are getting on and reaching out more often to intentionally connect
  • I am reconnecting with some old friends and some old pastimes that I love but didn’t have time for

While employees are struggling with uncertainty and the need to adapt each week to new and unfolding information, it is important for managers and leaders to help foster some of the positives that each employee is experiencing amidst the many challenges.

To be Human is to be relational and some of our present experience is opening the door to deepening relationships in a very human way – connecting and sharing genuine and real daily experiences. Employers can take this opportunity to share stories, allowing some vulnerability and foster a culture of checking in on each other and of course sharing the positives inherent in reframing aspects of our shared situation.