Brexit is done, the vaccine is here!
1st January 2021 is a very special day for the UK.
We have officially left the EU after being a member since 1st January 1973. For the majority of people at working age and the nation as a whole, we are now presented with a new playing field to build an independent economy upon.
No one can predict where we will be in 5yrs or 10yrs time.What we will know in a decades time is, if it was the right or wrong decision to leave the EU.Only time will tell, any other form of prediction on the economy is just guess work, as reliable as Mystic Meg and her crystal ball.
One thing we can be sure of is that as a nation we will go on, persistence always pays off. London is still the financial capital of the world and the UK is still the highest net exporter of financial services.
So let’s just say we are far from starting back on square one!
Then there’s was Covid19 in 2020, which further crippled the economy on the back off the damage caused by the incompetency in the handling of Brexit by Teresa May’s government.
A double whammy indeed, but we are still here!
As we start 2021, Brexit is done, the vaccine is here, so now what? Shall we all just get vaccinated and get back to work? That would be wishful, if not a very naive way of thinking!
We are now presented with what is the most important decision we will make in a generation when it comes to business. What we decide will determine not only the length of time it will take the UK to get back on its feet, but also how we work as a nation for generations to come.
We have an opportunity here to make a huge change for the better, and it starts with the human within the workplace.
What we do with workplace mental health and wellbeing will be the deciding factor of where we will be in the next decade as a nation. The decisions we make now will personally, professionally, financially and economically determine the next decade in the UK.
The legislation that was not reasonably practicable!
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA) lays down the duties on employers. Employers must protect the ‘health, safety and welfare’ at work of all their employees. However, these duties are qualified with the words ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’.
Those words ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ has been a tragedy for this act, coinciding with the fact that there was no emphasis on mental health when talking about “health” in the act. So traditionally, employers focused on physical health and safety and didn’t put much emphasis on issues affecting mental health such as work related stress.
Even as updates to the Act came ,which there have been several. Only recommendations were made when it came to the mental health of employees in the workplace, yet First Aid At Work became a legal obligation. 46yrs later, we are now seeing the consequences of ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ and some employers are still firmly stuck in that rut.
Nonetheless a new law is imminent, it’s called Mental Health First Aid At Work!
Signing the petition and the pledge will make this process even faster for 2021
Employer Petition and Manifesto:
Thank you COVID!
There is another important point that must be mentioned at this point, be under no illusion that all the mental health issues that are coming to light rapidly at the moment are not due to Brexit and Covid. These issues were always there. Brexit and Covid only forced us to acknowledge them.
Covid and the situations that came with it such as lockdowns and job losses, single handedly did more to get the conversation on mental health flowing in the UK then the whole mental health community had been able to do in decades.
Covid19 brought the topic of mental health into every household in the UK! So where do we go from here?
Now the vaccine is here too, as we proceed with 2021 a lot of us will be going back to places of work or will remain working from home. Both brings its own set of mental health challenges that needs to be addressed. There is now is a mountain of evidence directly linking how a mentally well workforce impacts an organisations bottom line and growth and culture.
There is no need to push that agenda, businesses get it or they don’t!
The big question?
This presents us with the big question, what will employers do?
The decision on prioritising workplace mental health and how to nurture it has already been made for us here in the UK, simply by the data that is available.
Any CEO, HR Manager/Department and business owner worth their weight in salt will clearly see that.
Employers looking to cut corners, not taking it seriously will find themselves in the weeds and heading towards liquidation over the next few years. They will be stuck in deep internal issues due to low staff retention rates which is the arch enemy of workplace culture and happiness. I personally say good riddance, as those employers do not represent what needs to happen for the future of UK business.
They don’t care about the human, only their profit margins and don’t understand the inextricable link between the two. They are disengaged with the thinking of the new incoming workforce of millennials and Gen Zs who will avoid these type of organisation at all costs
They will lose valuable staff to other organisations that have a healthy wellbeing practices and waste money training staff who will not stay long term. Those organisations that understand that workplace mental health and wellbeing is the be all and end all for a sustainable future, will be the winners in the next few years.
The New Role of HR
2021 will see the biggest shift in HR strategies there has ever been. HR traditionally focuses on the usual that has been the same for decades.
· Recruitment and Hiring.
· Training and Development.
· Employer-Employee Relations.
· Maintain Company Culture.
· Manage Employee Benefits.
· Create a Safe Work Environment.
· Handle Disciplinary Actions.
All of these will still exist, but the whole structure will need to be built upon a foundation of mental health and wellbeing. All of the above will have to be a branch leading off that foundation.
Has the time come to rename HR and call it The Wellbeing Department!?
HR departments will have one of the biggest roles to play in the new future of the UK, notice I say the UK and not organisation, and I will tell you the reasons why. We spend the majority of our active day at work, this means our working life impacts all aspects of our life.
If as a nation we can get mental health and wellbeing at work right, this will naturally extend to the mental health and wellbeing of the nation in our personal l lives. It will impact positively on our social lives, our relationships we have with our partners, family and children.
Humans are creatures of their environment, the environment we spend the longest time in will always have the biggest impact on us. HR have a whole new responsibility in 2021. Traditionally HR supports the business to deliver people-related processes, vision and strategy across the company, aligned with the law.
In 2021 HR has a new role, they have the responsibility to support the economy to deliver people-related processes, vision and strategy in order to benefit the nation!
Are organisations and HR ready for this new role and responsibility they have?
Are they even aware?
Will CEO’s, business owners and shareholders support them if they are?
Do they even have a choice?
I guess only time will tell!
We at Mental Health and Life are quite clear on what needs to happen.
We have created two brand new HR and Mental Health First Aid courses for 2021, in hope organisations of the UK will follow our lead.
You can find them below, now let’s get this country back on its feet for 2021!