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Having worked in HR for as long as I have, there’s not much that surprises me anymore. Well maybe a little (some of my clients throw some very colourful situations my way), but it doesn’t take me long before I’m considering the legal angle and scouring their policies so that I can best advise on how to move forward.

The importance of being human

MH 130316 Est 006Whilst all of this is important of course, a couple of years ago I received a reminder that the H in HR stands for ‘human’. My reminder came during an intensive course I was completing in Mediation. It suddenly occurred to me that I had become desensitised over the years and maybe didn’t appreciate anymore that what, for me, is the everyday, is daunting for the employees involved. And it’s a really big deal.

I’ll write a blog about mediation one day as it is a fascinating subject, but my point is that, working in HR, it’s easy to forget that we are dealing with people and people are very complex!

Let’s all think differently

I met with an inspiring chap this week, Matt Cole, Head of Business Growth at Gofal. For those of you who are not familiar with Gofal, it is a powerhouse of a charity that provides a wide range of services to people with mental health problems, supporting their independence, recovery, health and wellbeing. They also lobby to improve mental health policy, practice and legislation, as well as campaigning to increase public understanding of mental health and wellbeing.

Matt agreed with my thoughts that mental health issues can be as terrifying for a business employing someone with mental health problems as it is for the individual themselves, resulting in a wall of silence and a lack of understanding or support for either party. Sadly it often goes wrong and by the time HR becomes involved it is because work issues have escalated.

Workplace wellbeing

All of this got me thinking about the importance of promoting wellbeing in the workplace and how HR can be instrumental in encouraging outstanding practice. Here at EST we’ve always ‘got it’ that offering flexibility and creating a great place to work translates to better bottom line performance. What I didn’t know before my chat with Matt is that this is also true with mental health. Managers can be trained to identify mental health problems so that early intervention can be introduced, reducing absenteeism and encouraging effective performance.

Heavy stuff over a peppermint tea at The Vanilla Pod…but expect to hear more from me on this one!