Mental Health in a Pandemic

Here we are again, another lockdown due to Covid 19, will anything ever be the same again!. It never crosses your mind that something like this Pandemic would ever happen within our lifetime and have the effect it has had on people’s wellbeing and mental health.

Mental health has many different faces and of course there are many common causes of mental ill health as well as the impact of the Pandemic. Some of the typical signs of stress at work which we can keep an eye on are the increased number of errors and missed deadlines, working long hours, increased sickness absence, loss of confidence, negative ways of working and many other signs.

How can we help our employees / colleagues and spot the signs that someone is perhaps feeling totally overwhelmed and struggling to cope with this current way of life. We can try to ensure that honest and open communication is practised, make sure that people have a manageable workload, be flexible with their working hours and encourage them to have regular down time.

How would we talk to someone about mental health during lockdown?  We should choose a suitable medium for communication, phone might be best but always ask as someone might prefer to use video conferencing.  We should always try to be empathetic and not come across as sympathetic.  Be conscious of what your body language is saying if you are on video conferencing and always remember that this conversation is not about you or your experiences or advice, it’s about listening to someone and being supportive. Language matters!

Life at the minute is scary for us all, we need to look after our own mental health and be supportive to the colleagues who are struggling.   Just a positive friendly chat may be all that is needed to lift someone’s spirit if they are living alone, reach out to people as you would be expect someone to reach out to you if they spotted the signs.

Here at Futureproof Training, we have found that one of our most popular subjects that clients are increasingly asking to be delivered is ‘ Mental Health Awareness’.  Please get in touch with us is you think your organisation will benefit from this kind of virtual training.

Stay safe and stay positive, this feeling will not last forever!

Mental Health in the Workplace – support available.

What Gets us and Keeps us Motivated?

We all like to feel driven and motivated, so what’s the best kind of motivation?  Self-motivation of course!

Doing something for its own sake and for your own purposes is likely to be more fulfilling, enjoyable and successful than doing something to meet external standards or to please others.

How can we improve our ability to inspire or motivate other people?

We need to understand what motivates us and others at work.  You’ll notice that you are first and the reason for doing so is that we use ourselves as analogies for understanding others.  ‘No person really knows about other human beings’, said the novelist John Steinbeck.  ‘The best he or she can do is to suppose that they are like themselves’.  If you have an accurate picture of what motivates you, you will be in a far better position to understand what motivates others.

We need an AWARENESS of both the general and the individual dimensions of motivation.  

In motivation theories, you can learn plenty of generalisations about people, including ‘individuals.  These are useful.  But they are only half the story.  Think of yourself – both complex and how unique you are.  To motivate anyone beyond the ‘stick-and-carrot’ level means you must know him or her as an individual person by name.

We need to develop our SKILLS as a leader of others.  

As a manager you are called now to be a leader, and leadership includes the ability to motivate and inspire others.  How do you do it?  What you are and what you know matters, but what you do as a leader in those three-circles of team or organisational need – task, team and individual – is vital.  For high motivation, like happiness, is largely a by-product.  Hence the considerable overlap between leadership and motivation.

See our very popular Managing & Leading Teams course if you are looking for a great foundation in the core principles ‘getting the best out of others’. For any further information, please get in touch, 01623 409 824 or

Unconscious Bias and Dignity at Work

When people favour others who look like them and or share their values is known as unconscious bias.  Everyone has unconscious bias, the brain receives information all the time from our own experiences and what we read, hear or see in the media and from others.  The brain uses shortcuts to speed up decision making and unconscious bias is a by-product of that.  There are times when quick decision making is useful such as in a dangerous situation.  However, it is not a good way to make decisions when dealing with recruiting disciplining or promoting staff for example.

Conscious thoughts are controlled and well-reasoned. Unconscious thoughts can be based on stereotypes and prejudices that we may not even realise we have. Stereotypes surrounding tattoos may subconsciously suggest a person is unlikely to conform and follow rules. Stereotypes surrounding mothers may lead to unconscious bias against women who apply for a role which involves regular travel away from home.  Stress or tiredness may increase the likelihood of decisions based on unconscious bias.

So, how can we overcome unconscious bias? 

  • We need to become aware of our thoughts and reasoning
  • Don’t rush decisions – take your time and consider the issues properly
  • Justify decisions and record the reasons for your decisions
  • Try to work with a wider range of people and get to know them as individuals by working in different teams or with colleagues in different locations
  • Focus on the positive behaviours of people and not negative stereotypes
  • Implement policies and procedures which limit the influence of individual characteristics and preferences

People deserve to be treated equally and with respect and dignity.  Before your unconscious bias gets the better of you, remember respect breeds respect and everyone deserves to be treated the same as you would expect to be treated.

Futureproof have a team of Diversity, Equality & Inclusion specialists who can help change the culture of your business. For more information, please get in touch 01623 409 824 or

Diversity & Equality Training Workshop

Communication in the Workplace

Communication within a workplace environment is one of the vital factors to a successful organisation.  We all know that it is the process of exchanging information and ideas, both verbal and non-verbal within an organisation. But, effective communication ensures that all organisational objectives are achieved, and it is so important because it increases productivity and efficiency.  Ineffective workplace communication leads to communication gaps between employees which causes confusion, wastes time and reduces productivity.

Words are only a very small portion of how we communicate.

Face to face communication is always the best type of communication and should be used wherever possible.  Speaking directly with someone in the workplace can eliminate any misunderstandings that often occur.  You can also gauge how a team member is reacting / feeling from their body language and facial expressions.  By having one quick conversation rather than lots of email interactions can make the outcome more efficient in the end.

Body language and facial expressions play an important role in how effective or ineffective you are at communication with team members.  Eye contact makes people feel acknowledged as they speak and listen.  It helps to stand in front of a mirror before a meeting if you rehearse what you are going to say, so that you can see if your body language matches your words.

Phone conversations are part of everyday work life.  Some people enjoy speaking to their team members by phone, but others dislike it.  Always speak clearly and slowly so that your words are understood.

Written communication such as emails and notes are the types of communication that can lead to the most misunderstandings.  People often read between the lines or feel that there are implied messages or emotions in written forms of communication. 

Communication between you and your team will always be a work in progress, but always remember to communicate , communicate, communicate!!

Overcoming Barriers to Change

We all know that we need a plan in place to guide change, but it is never as simple as it sounds.

Unless the barriers to change management are accounted for, your organisation’s transformation will hit a stalemate.  You may have your plan in place and your necessary tools, but if your employees are resistant, your efforts will hit a major roadblock.

Resistance is a difficult problem to overcome but by anticipating which influences might create the barriers and addressing them, the likelihood of your change going to plan will run much more smoothly.

So, let’s think about the obstacles that may arise:

The Unknown – None of us can assess the effectiveness of change without knowing exactly where you are starting from.  Take the time to evaluate where your business currently is and what you will need to drive it forward with maximum success.  Employees will become very resistant if they feel unprepared.

Communication – We all know communication is a huge barrier in organisations, but it is one that can be overcome.  As a leader, try to be as transparent as possible, encourage questions and encourage employees to talk about their concerns, ask for ideas to help improve the transformation.

Limited Employee Involvement – If employees are not included in the change plan, then be prepared for them to become resistant and de-motivated.  Not a good idea if you don’t want your productivity to reduce – Involve your employees and ask for their feedback.  You may learn something that will enable you to amend your strategy for the better.  Your employees will feel valued and appreciated and we all know it’s great to feel that you’ve been able to provide a valid input.

Complex Processes – Implementing new processes are a major barrier to change management due to employees being frustrated with complex processes that they can’t quite grasp.  The tip is to provide as much relevant information and support and provide plenty of training. 

Next time you are planning on making a transformation, help yourself and remember the tips.  Employee motivation and training is paramount to making a happy, productive organisation.

Managing Change Workshop

Driving & Implementing Strategic Change – Workshop