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Our first Supporters’ Network Webinar was on the topic of Health and Wellbeing in the workplace, with a focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges that this has brought to light. Maintaining a healthy and productive workplace is more complex than before, but prioritising the health and wellbeing of staff still needs to be key in Good Employment practice.   


Rowlinson’s Knitwear are a Stockport based organisation which create garments for school wear and corporate knitwear, who achieved Member status with the Charter in January 2020. Nicola Ryan, the Director of Colleague Support, started off the conversation by speaking to Supporters’ about some of the key ways in which Rowlinson’s have managed to stay afloat during the pandemic – both in terms of finance and logistics, and maintaining employees’ health and wellbeing. Strong planning and clear communication meant that when government rules regarding self-isolation came into place, Rowlinson’s had already worked as a team to develop a plan to adapt their practice. Read Rowlinson’s guest blog for more information on this approach.


CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, are experts on the world of work and offer advice to employers and people professionals nationwide. Daphne Doody-Green, Head of CIPD North, spoke about the recent increased request for help surrounding issues of mental health in the workplace. Due to COVID-19, people are facing an extreme change of circumstance and as a result, it has become more difficult for managers to know how to support their staff in the most appropriate way. Daphne introduces the valuable resources on offer within the CIPD Coronavirus Hub, which are open to everyone. These resources are updated with the latest information and government guidance, and are a valuable tool for anybody seeking detailed advice at this time regarding mental health in the workplace, but also guidance on other topics such as remote working and furlough.  


Next Geoffrey Leigh, Consultant in Business and Human Resource Planning, gave some tips on how to quell employees’ anxieties during this time. Using his background in psychotherapy, he explained the different factors that contribute to high stress levels, and how businesses’ approach can be tailored to try and reduce this stress. For example, clarity in company decisions is important as stress levels are high when the outcome of a situation is unclear. Geoffrey advised that collaborative input in company decisions and communicating potential outcomes helps to reduce anxieties, making staff feel more included and supported. Geoffrey’s points are further exemplified by this resource on mBraining, which includes advice and practical tools on how to drive people effectively, to continue getting results and have people work at their best.


Our speakers then moved on to the Q&A section – using questions sent in by our audience. Topics such as the plan for returning to work, and how to support colleagues regarding childcare, were explored by our panel. The common thread throughout our webinar can be pinpointed by Nicola’s closing message of ‘be kind’. She makes the point that we cannot expect everything to run exactly to plan at the moment, and understanding the particular needs of colleagues should lead our approach moving forward. Putting people first is at the heart of the Charter, and will help to keep a team connected and strong during this time.


To watch the full webinar, please find our recording below. Our next webinar will be on the 7th May, and our speakers include Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester. Speakers will explore the topic of COVID-19’s effect on working standards, and the future of Good Employment following the lockdown. Sign up here.