How to bring wellbeing into the everyday

We've put together ten top tips for managers to help you integrate wellbeing support for staff into everyday working practices.

1. Ask, observe, notice

You don't need to be a mental health or a wellbeing specialist to be an effective people manager. Show your genuine care by building three simple principles into your everyday interactions; ask, observe and notice. Just noticing and showing someone that you care is in itself a wellbeing intervention.

2. Check in

Checking in with staff needn’t be time consuming, build this into your regular 1:1s, email communications and team meetings. Allow space during the first 5 minutes of your team meeting to ‘get to know each other today’. Follow up separately if you notice that someone is behaving out of character or might be struggling.

3. Have a wellbeing conversation

This short video takes you through the basic principles of a conversation around wellbeing, how to start one, how to spot signs that a member of staff may be struggling, and what you can do about it.

4. Model positive wellbeing behaviours

Model positive wellbeing behaviours to send a clear message to staff that their wellbeing matters. What you say and do has a huge impact on how someone else feels. Do your actions demonstrate that you value your team? Do your behaviours instil trust and compassion? Do you do what you say you will do?

The stress management competency index tool might help you to reflect upon your own management style and provides a helpful overview of behaviours that are particularly effective for preventing and reducing stress at work.

5. Recognise efforts

Think about how you can acknowledge the efforts of your team in everyday conversations. Giving a genuine compliment or praise can boost someone's confidence who may otherwise be feeling vulnerable and low. Say thank you. Consider using Recognition Awards to recognise individual or team efforts.

6. Promote positive ways of working

Consider implementing some of the practical hints and tips shared below in your departmental practices to alleviate pressure and stress. Ask for feedback as to which could be most effective, communicate your new ‘team rules’ to all staff so everyone is aware and can join in. Revisit regularly to see if they are helping.

7. Managing teams remotely

Managing your staff remotely requires a different approach, take a look at the 5 minute video on how to manage teams remotely.

8. Conduct a risk assessment

The institutional risk assessment for wellbeing whilst working remotely captures the risks that you will need to consider for staff working from home. If you keep this assessment close at hand you won’t go far wrong in knowing how to respond when a particular issue arises that needs action. Your faculty HR colleagues are on hand to support you.

9. Annual leave

Keep an eye on the annual leave that your team is taking. Encourage your team to take regular annual leave at times that suit the overall workload of the team. Ensure that annual leave is evenly spread across the team and staff have an equal opportunity to take a break.

10. Create opportunities for connection

Support your staff working remotely by creating and sustaining a sense of connection. This is vital to counter feelings of isolation and the loss of a sense of team that staff may be experiencing. Develop an online wellbeing hub to provide opportunities for staff to connect, find out how here.

Staff Helpline & Counselling Service

Please do signpost staff to Health Assured, our Employee Assistance Programme and route to Confidential Staff Counselling (up to 8 sessions with a BACP counsellor). As well as providing emotional support there is an advisory element to the service, and trained professionals can offer specialist advice on a range of issues including legal, financial, consumer and family issues.

Practical hints and tips to promote positive ways of working

This list of practical ideas, hints and tips will help to prevent fatigue, stress and free up space and time for positive connections. Some of these tips will help you to establish a healthy working culture for your team and some of these tips will help individuals within your team to think about their own working practices.

You don’t have to implement them all and you may already be doing some of them. You know your team and so choose the ideas that you think will work the best and have the biggest impact.

Calendar management

1. Introduce meeting controls that will free up time for comfort breaks, to step away from the desk/screen and to move around:

  • Start meetings at 5 or 10 past the hour, reducing 30 minutes to 25 and one hour meetings to 50 minutes.
  • This can be done through enabling speedy meetings in your Calendar settings: Go to Settings > Event Settings and then click the checkbox for speedy meetings. This shortens whichever preset meeting time that you've designated by 5 or 10 minutes
  • Avoid back to back meetings wherever possible

2. Avoid meetings between 12.30pm and 2pm allowing opportunity for a lunch break

3. Limit online meetings to a maximum of 60 minutes.

4. Hold a meeting free day per week in the calendar, e.g. Meeting Free Fridays.

5. Be considerate to the working hours/patterns of other colleagues before arranging meetings: don’t override other commitments in people's diaries.

6. Block out desk time in your calendar to protect time to work on important pieces of work and to avoid meetings taking over your day.

7. Create open door signifiers in your calendar across your team, OD - Open Door, I’m working at my desk and can be available for you to call or, PDND - Please Do not Disturb, I need to concentrate on a piece of work.

8. Take ownership for your diary and control the number of meetings to ensure your day is manageable.

9. Consider other people’s use of time before inviting staff to meetings i.e. is it necessary for three people from the same team to attend the same meeting? Think hard about whether a particular individual is required to be at the meeting before inviting them.

Online meetings

1. The use of webcams is hugely useful in encouraging a sense of connection and in staying in touch with colleagues, however they can be detrimental to the wellbeing of others. Be aware of this and consider if it is an absolute requirement to use the webcam for all meetings.

2. Care is to be taken with personal and sensitive information in a virtual environment; consider the use of the blur function when using Google Meet.

3. Avoid recording meetings unless all participants have given prior permission and know if/who it will be shared with.

4. Let team members know that no apologies are needed if children, pets, partners, door bells, deliveries etc. interrupt a call.

Email management

1. Avoid responding to emails outside of standard operating hours other than in exceptional circumstances.

2. Consider adding one of the suggested University email signatures to let colleagues know about your working patterns and how you prefer to be contacted during the working day.

3. If it helps your wellbeing/working pattern to prepare emails outside of the above, use the scheduling tool to deliver the email at the start of the next working day.

  • Create your email
  • At the bottom left next to 'Send', click the dropdown arrow
  • Click 'Schedule send'

4. Where, by exception, an urgent email response is required out of standard working hours, make this clear in the subject field

5. Consider having agreed email free days where colleagues will talk via google hangout/telephone instead.

6. Minimise the number of unnecessary emails by copying in only those who need the information.

7. Be clear in the email header if actions are required.

8. Don’t send on lengthy email chains without a summary of the situation and of any action required.

Advice for individuals

1. Organise your work to allow for more chunking of and focus on priority tasks and less multi-tasking in one day.

2. Be clear about when your working day begins and ends and take breaks to refresh. When work is over, be sure you switch off to avoid burnout. Cultivate healthy habits such as taking exercise and fresh air every day.

3. Set an alert to signal the end of the working day to avoid days lengthening.

4. Pack up at the end of the day to create some distance from work.

5. Follow DSE advice to achieve the best possible workstation set up.

6. Ensure adequate rest and recuperation through regular use of annual leave.

Opportunities for connection

1. Be kind. Remote conversations can easily be misinterpreted as it’s harder to read body language, tone of voice and other visual and audio cues. Stay mindful of this. Challenging times call for greater sensitivity and kindness.

2. Look out for colleagues, take some time at the start of each connection to ask, ‘how are you today?’ or, ‘on a scale of 1-10, how are you feeling? What would help you to get closer to 10’? Wait and listen to the answer.

3. Consider the diverse needs of colleagues. These digital accessibility guidelines will help you to make sure that the way you communicate online is accessible, for example for, neurodiverse colleagues or those with disabilities.

4. Make time for non-work chats as you would in the workplace.

5. Set a standard lunch time for the team to enable a daily open drop in for social lunches with colleagues.

6. Consider the creation of a Wellbeing Hub in your department to provide a mechanism for social interaction and connection.

7. Consider if it is possible to arrange face-to-face catch ups with colleagues in line with local restrictions e.g. groups of no more than six colleagues could meet outdoors to provide more social contact (noting some colleagues may be unable to attend and could therefore feel more isolated by this)