We all want to be happy at work and the good news is there are small, simple, everyday things we can do to support each other in the workplace that can make a difference to people’s wellbeing and productivity individually and collectively.
Respect and civility
It doesn’t matter how busy or stressed you are, you should always treat colleagues and juniors with respect, listening, saying please and thank you, sometimes picking up the phone rather than sending emails. Being respectful in the workplace benefits everyone, and the research supports this. Civility is contagious, so if leaders model this behaviour it will filter down to the rest of the organisation resulting in a happier, healthier, more motivated workforce.
Have empathy and be kind
Understand that everyone is dealing with a wide variety of issues at work and at home that you might know nothing about. Ask people how they are feeling, how they are coping with their workload, what you can do to help. When something goes wrong try to find out why in a sensitive way rather than blaming, and forgive people for their mistakes. We all make them! Kindness is contagious, frequent acts of kindness at every level in the workplace will lead to more engaged and connected staff.
Praise and gratitude
Give credit where credit is due, saying ‘well done’ or ‘thank you’ can make all a difference. This will help people feel truly valued and help prevent workplace related anxiety building which can occur when staff aren’t getting positive feedback from their colleagues or managers.
Help others and work as a team
We can all only achieve so much on our own, teamwork is vital to a happy and successful workplace. This might look like volunteering to help with a project if someone seems overwhelmed, offering to show someone how to do something technical, suggesting a five minute brainstorm to a colleague who seems to be at a dead end, or sometimes it might take the form of mentoring or reaching out to build a connection with someone. We all have unique skills that can help others, and it also benefits us to help other people, making us feel valued and giving us a sense of purpose.
In order to have a workplace that is truly psychologically safe, we need to encourage each other to be vulnerable, to admit when we are struggling, to ask for help, to acknowledge when we have made a mistake. We all need to play a role in facilitating more candid everyday conversations in the workplace.
Manage your email
A lot of problems in the workplace can be traced back to email. Never write anything in an email that you wouldn’t shout across a crowded room. Stop and think before sending an email—avoid the knee jerk reaction, especially when angry, stressed or busy. You might want to send it to yourself or save in draft. When you come back without that strong emotion you might rethink about sending it.
Provide regular catch-ups
In our Life in the Law research into legal workplaces wellbeing we discovered that of a wide range of workplace measures available, from private health insurance to mental health training, regular catch-ups or appraisals were reported to be the most helpful. Having these in place helped to bolster confidence in personal development and reduce anxiety. If you are in a management role make these a priority.
Look after yourself
In order to be a productive, supportive and valued colleague, you need to look after yourself so you can be the best you can be at work. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat well, get outside every day, and get some exercise to stay happy and healthy to take on any challenges at work.
Reach out to someone who is struggling
Noticing if someone seems to be struggling and asking them if they are ok and want to talk may feel difficult but it is not necessary to be an expert in mental health to start a conversation of this nature. It’s important to remember that talking could make all the difference to your colleague’s mental health. Keep your eye out for any changes in someone, from mood to personal appearance, to performance at work – it could be a sign that they need help.
Signpost to further support
Remember that LawCare provides emotional support to all legal professionals, support staff and their concerned family members. Anyone working in the law can call our confidential helpline on 0800 279 6888, email us at [email protected] or access online chat and other resources at www.lawcare.org.uk