In addition to the free to attend keynotes, case studies, panel sessions, author spotlights and workshops at the inaugural The Watercooler, attendees could opt to join roundtables running on both days of the event.
Hosted by industry experts, these offered the opportunity to share experiences off the record, create new connections and source ideas to take workplace wellbeing toolkits to the next level.
Topics covered ranged from “How to engage men in talking about mental health” to “Financial wellbeing: meeting the diverse and evolving needs of employees”.
Laura Todd, Director of Inclusion and Wellbeing at Randstad UK & RSR EMEA, who is also an Ambassador for Let’s Improve Workplace Wellbeing, hosted the roundtable entitled: “Seamlessly integrating talent, DEI and wellbeing initiatives”. In this article she outlines the key takeaways from the session which focused around:
- The role of wellbeing in successfully embedding an ED&I strategy in business processes and culture
- The importance of intersectionality in a truly inclusive wellbeing programme
- Key building blocks and tangible examples for creating a truly inclusive wellbeing strategy
Key takeaway #1: Engagement is key
Employers need to ask people what they want and what they need. We can only do this by talking to people and engaging through different communication mediums. This also means being open to correction and taking on suggestions around what could work better, what isn’t working and so forth.
Key takeaway #2: Intersectionality
Wellbeing strategies need to look through an intersectional lens. We need to know who our employees are, who we have in the organisation and what tailored support different people need. One participant shared a good example of how they approach conversations about race and racism. They ensure that they have a strong focus on creating safe-space conversations and action-learning sets after the wider conversations so that people can support each other after the sessions and continue learning.
Another example shared was that many Occupational Health providers don’t cater for neurodiversity. Organisations need to address this to be truly inclusive and support the individual’s wellbeing at the same time.
Key takeaway #3: Be aware of change and the need for consistency
There has been a huge amount of change over the past two years. The death of George Floyd, the rise of the Me Too movement and the Ukrainian crisis are also impacting different peoples’ lived experiences and reactions. Wellbeing strategies need to consider the impact of different lived experiences and ensure we are considering ED&I and wellbeing together throughout the HR lifecycle, not just with short-term, gimmicky interventions.
Key takeaway #4: Impact of virtual working
One participant shared some interesting research they had done which found that not being in the office and virtual working could in fact increase bullying and harassment, not reduce it. Are our wellbeing strategies considering the feelings of isolation and loneliness some people are now feeling working from home?
Key takeaway #5: Respect at work
We discussed the importance of frameworks and policies around respect, giving feedback and calling people in, not out. This creates a culture where people can speak up and others can respectfully reflect and learn if they had made an unintended non-inclusive action or comment. This is key to psychological safety and inclusive workplaces. It is about creating that culture where people can check and challenge. One participant shared an initiative called Is It Ok To Ask? Each month different panels from different D&I communities answer and discuss questions people might have but are afraid to ask. This helps to break down barriers.
Key takeaway #6: Communications
Communications and marketing teams need to be trained in the importance of accessibility considerations. This includes captions as standard and thinking about whether we are catering for British Sign Language (BSL).
Key takeaway #7: Real impact?
It was felt that box ticking and hollow actions are extremely common still in ED&I and wellbeing. Are organisations addressing the systemic issues of culture, psychological safety and inequities in processes. Plus how are we measuring impact?
Key takeaway #8: Bringing your whole self to work?
We asked ourselves whether this the right language? Would it be better to be: “Be the best person you can be at work”? We wondered whether this would be more authentic as it recognises that we can’t always be 100% resilient and as humans and it is OK not to be OK.
Thank you Laura for sharing your insights.
If you have thoughts or suggestions that you’d like to add to this, please send them to [email protected]. We’d love to keep driving this discussion forwards.