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Instilling a kind culture

Instilling a kind culture

This is why recognising the signs of poor mental health through relevant training is imperative for a happy and empathic workplace

We always hear about the importance of our wellbeing, but what do we mean by it? In simple terms, wellbeing is the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy. But, if we delve deeper, wellbeing will mean different things to different people. For that reason, as wellbeing is subjective, it is sometimes hard to measure the level of it within a network.

What one person may feel is their model state of wellbeing may be contrary to another person. However, it is generally agreed that wellbeing is a meaningful outcome that everyone will strive for in physical, emotional, social, intellectual and economic aspects of their lives. Feelings of wellbeing are fundamental to an individual’s overall health, their ability to successfully overcome challenges and achieve what they want out of life.

Our wellbeing can easily be compromised by the pressures we put on ourselves throughout life. There is no denying that recently, our wellbeing has been challenged in every way imaginable. With the unprecedented pandemic and the subsequent economic turmoil our country has faced, wellness has taken a toll, devastatingly impacting mental health. Anxiety and depression caused by isolation and uncertainty have negatively impacted overall wellbeing. A study found that one in six workers in the UK will experience depression, anxiety or problems relating to stress at any one time, and mental ill health is responsible for 72 million working days lost, costing the economy £34.9bn each year.

Mental health at the forefront

Much of our wellbeing will be determined by the aspects of our lives we decide for ourselves. However, emotional, social, intellectual and economic factors can be significantly influenced by our employers or place of work. Whilst the lockdown was a time of intensified high stress, it also gave people the opportunity to reflect and re-evaluate their employer’s priorities. As workers felt the burden of working through a global pandemic, businesses accelerated their organisations’ employee wellbeing strategies. Subsequently, as the nation emerged from the pandemic, employees justly found the need for this extra personal wellbeing support from their employers to continue.

However, this mental health downturn has since put the need for mental health and wellbeing maintenance at the forefront. As already mentioned, our wellbeing is necessary for our happiness and sense of fulfilment in our everyday lives, a sentiment that will also translate into the work we do as members of a workforce. When our wellbeing is compromised, our work is affected. This is why individuals, now more than ever, are considering businesses that heartedly believe wellness maintenance is an essential system in its offering.

The crucial factor in recruitment

In the wake of the pandemic, the Great Resignation saw employees voluntarily resign en masse due to the limited opportunities their employers were putting in place to assist them in such turbulent times. It was clear that professionals across the country were adapting to new ways of working and some began to re-evaluate their careers as a result. Recent research showed that employee benefits focused on wellbeing were crucial factors, with more than 25 per cent of UK employees saying they would consider moving jobs to secure better health and wellbeing support.

Wellbeing should be at the core of every business. Especially now, as people have the flexibility to curate their desired working situation, business owners need to take matters into their own hands to ensure sensitive company processes and a kind culture is still maintained. A sensible business will acknowledge employees’ changing needs and priorities in the new working environment, as it is clear that future recruits value effective and meaningful health and wellbeing support and advice.

With ever-increasing importance placed on our wellbeing, and the impact of compromised wellbeing in recent years, it is essential to understand the ways to achieve wellbeing and, critically, how your workplace can contribute. Many professionals will operate under an ‘always-on’ culture, but it is always important to step back and consider how this can take its toll.

Employers must be mindful of their employees’ needs to look after themselves and have systems in place to step in if they can see an employee floundering in the workload they have burdened themselves with. Piling on the pressure may seem like the noble thing to do, but there will always be a risk of burnout which will ultimately squander the desired end result.

The franchiseefranchisor relationship

A franchise is not just an investment in a new business. It is an investment in a relationship between a franchisor and a franchisee. How effective this relationship is depends on cooperation from both camps. A franchisor that genuinely cares and communicates with his franchisees will provide a platform to succeed. A prospect with due diligence will research heavily into the right franchise to invest in but starting that search can seem like a daunting task.

Finding a franchisor with suitable systems in place to recognise the warning signs of a franchisee suffering from poor wellbeing and mental health is key to ensuring a franchisee’s happiness and success in the long term. A prospect should be able to see a franchisor providing extensive training, ongoing support and expert advice to their franchisees if, and when, they need it. This will ensure that any professional or personal issues that arise will be dealt with, and their wellbeing remains catered for. Whether it be business advice or moral support, a good franchisor will show that they care for the people who work for them. Franchisees want to invest in a franchisor that makes them happy, and franchisors will want to recruit franchisees who contribute to their brand mission. A franchisor is nothing without its dedicated network of franchisees, and ensuring their happiness is vital for the success of both parties.

But what are the benefits for employees when their franchisor considers their wellbeing? And what can prospects look out for when deciding on the right business to join? One way to see if a franchisor truly cares about his employees is by seeing how he appreciates and recognises his network. When franchisors recognise and reward a job well done, it not only shows that they care about their emotional wellbeing but also value the work they contribute to their franchise. As the relationship between franchisor and franchisee is interdependent, the pros of celebrating an employee’s progress and achievements will be mutually beneficial. By speaking to people who already work in the network, prospects can gauge how happy and appreciated they feel in their career. This conversation might be the deciding factor.

Make the right choice

Following the pressures felt by the ongoing impacts of the last two years, it is crucial for a franchisee to research the dedicated resources a franchisor provides to recognise the signs of poor wellbeing and mental health. Many franchisors will provide a designated mental health first aider who will be the point of contact for any franchisee experiencing mental health issues or emotional distress affecting their wellbeing in and outside the workplace. This mental health first aid training provides tips and advice for a range of possible scenarios, going through how to approach and assess each situation and go on to give appropriate support.

When franchisors consider the wellbeing of their franchisees, they will recognise that work-life balance will be a contributing factor. Flexibility has proven to be a highly productive asset for businesses that want to attract prospects after the pandemic completely reinvented the way we work.

Whether it be to support mental wellbeing or to simply make it easier to pick up the kids from school, a flexible work-life balance is a highly sought-after benefit for those looking for a franchise to invest in. Of course, a franchisor will expect its franchisees to work hard and be driven to reach goals. However, balancing this with a work-life balance can allow individuals to leave their work at their desks and enjoy some well-earned downtime which will be key to a franchisee’s happiness and wellbeing.

The importance of tailored support

When franchisees consider a franchisor that cares about wellbeing, they will want to see a company that listens to its network as much as it supports it. It is all very well for a franchisor to say it provides welfare support, but it is wasted if this support does not cater to the specific needs of different individuals. A two-way conversation should be had between franchisor and franchisees in every aspect, from business goals to discussions about work-life flexibility and how they are doing on a personal level. The best franchisors to invest in are those who do not take a set-and-forget approach to wellbeing initiatives and understand the importance of having interpersonal conversations within their network to continue seeing positive outcomes for their franchise.

We should not let our wellbeing take a backseat in business, so searching for the right franchise that will care for your wellbeing and mental health, professionally and personally, is vital to maintaining a happy lifestyle. The pandemic has pushed health and wellbeing to the top of the business agenda, and franchisors are recognising the importance of adopting a kind and caring culture within their networks that will prove prosperous for both franchisor and franchisee in the future.

Key takeaways for putting wellbeing first

Many other aspects of our lives will determine our overall wellbeing, which will affect our work lives

A business should place wellbeing initiatives at a level as important as building its brand and developing its product

It is hard to measure a person’s state of wellbeing as everyone’s perception of the ideal state is subjective

However, recognising the signs of poor mental health and wellbeing in yourself and others through relevant training and resources is imperative for a happy and empathic workplace

We are not all robots, so it is important to balance work with play to ensure we feel energised and fulfilled in our work

When a positive company culture is adopted, and the wellbeing of its network is carefully considered, employees are more productive, collaborative and resilient

The author

Andy Knights is chief executive officer of global children’s performing arts franchise Stagecoach Performing Arts - a role he has held since 2014. He has over 20 years’ experience working in the franchising industry.

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