What do we all know about Workforce Well-being as we approach 2022?
For the individuals, the people, who make up the anonymous sounding ‘workforce’, the story of the pandemic which, of course, continues and even worsens for some, are described in terms of:
But there is another possibility – a reimagining of workforce well-being.
Every leader in health and care wants to recruit and retain staff who will stay long after their initial training, consistently do a great job and become, through their way of being calm, focused and reliable, advocates for their employer.
It is now recognised that our health and care organisations have to adapt their employment priorities and provision, otherwise people, especially younger generations, will simply go elsewhere.
This was pointed out as far back as November 2017 in A BETTER FUTURE FOR THE NHS WORKFORCE which went on to say:
The secretary of state recently announced pilots of new apps to improve flexible working for NHS. Greater flexibility is a good starting point. Yet while there is a lot of discussion of working generations within the NHS, it is yet to translate into widespread practical action on the ground, and there is a sense that other sectors of the economy have been quicker to adapt their employment offers.
Much more recently the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee Second Report of Session 2021–22 WORKFORCE BURNOUT AND RESILIENCE IN THE NHS AND SOCIAL CARE has made it clear that it is time to establish parity of provision for the workforces in health and care sectors.
It has never been more urgent for our leaders to take action and create an organisational culture where everyone feels they belong- in particular to improve the experience of our people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
In oral evidence:
- Jo Da Silva, a homecare worker, told us that the recognition of the work of social care needed to be put on an equal footing with medical professionals: To be on a par with other people means more than anything. […] We have done things that are on a par with other medical professions, if I am honest. […] We have a duty to care, and we do the job for a reason. I think the main thing is to be recognised.
- Paul Farmer, the CEO of Mind, also highlighted the importance of cultural change and improving the offer of support to staff. He highlighted the need for NHS trust boards to focus on “the mental well-being and support of their staff” and to ensure that there were adequate numbers of champions inside their organisations. He also highlighted the importance of tackling the stigma of mental well-being and to ensure that there was “a really clear set of offers” in place and that every member of staff was aware of those offers.
- Professor Martin Green of Care England also called for a 10- year plan for social care that was “aligned on every level” with the NHS Plan and included workforce issues, skills mix, support for staff and how to ensure that “we retain as well as recruit the right people” He added that a People Plan for social care should start with “a vision for social care”
Stress, Anxiety, Exhaustion, Burnout
With good reason, the language of stress, anxiety, exhaustion and even burnout have become the dominant narrative for conversations about our health and care workforce.
Reimagining Workforce Well-being
But what if the pandemic could have a lasting legacy for the better? There have been many calls for a focus on learning from our experience of COVID-19 even while it is still with us. The argument goes that if 2020/21 has taught us anything, it’s that unexpected situations arise and we need to be resilient, but resilience is not enough. We now have an opportunity for new possibilities; possibilities which will allow people, teams, and organisations to reach their true potential.
In HOW LIFE COULD GET BETTER (OR WORSE) AFTER COVID, The Greater Good Science Centre, based at the University of California, has identified some of the prerequisites for successfully taking recovery and resilience further, to a reimagining of the future:
… which underlies successful emotion regulation, mindfulness, and wiser judgment about complex social issues. The good news is that these psychological strategies are malleable and trainable
Our methodology engages people in:
- reflective practice
- taking a step back from current circumstances in order to see from new perspectives
- exploring new maps of understanding
- becoming mindful of their own, unconscious bias and prejudice, and learning to put them to one side
- developing wisdom through experience [experiential learning]
- creating their own set of practices which enhance their professionalism, communication skills, and relationships
- understanding the possibility of being prepared for the unexpected ▪ managing their own emotional state
- developing personal agency
To this end we design our programs to fit the specific needs of organisations and their teams through a methodology known as Narrative Transformation. Our Recovery Champions and Peer Support Workers, in NHS, Care Provision, and Charities are now bringing these principles to bear on their work across the country.
The same principles lie at the heart of our facilitation work with leaders, coaches and teams.
On these foundations we can build a future where all the people who work supporting our health, care, and well-being are motivated by the knowledge that their work is a valuable, and valued contribution. They experience a sense of belonging. They are supportive of, and supported by, their colleagues and have access to programs and ongoing support that replace disenchantment, stress, anxiety, exhaustion and burnout with fulfilment, equanimity, energy and potency.
This is the new paradigm that lies within reach: A paradigm in which our health and care workforce are acknowledged, first and foremost, as people; individuals who come to work because they care and they care with compassion, dedication and diligence for which they deserve to be acknowledged, supported and paid appropriately.
The Homecare Association can accept no liability for advice, services or products offered or provided by third parties. Inclusion on this blog does not imply endorsement by the Association of the opinions contained in the blog.