WELBA: supporting staff wellbeing through the pandemic

Wellbeing has always been a key consideration at ELBA. But as soon as Covid-19 started to impact everyone’s daily life, the importance of supporting staff came into focus even more sharply. Like everyone, the team has faced new and unexpected challenges. The lack of connection to each other, the challenges of working from home, and the impact on mental and physical health have all been ongoing concerns as the pandemic has developed.

Senior management has always paved the way for staff wellbeing at ELBA, and Covid-19 has been handled with clear communication, constant reassurance and a collaborative action plan. Alongside this, WELBA is the internal committee whose mission is ‘To champion a happy, healthy and productive workplace which nurtures staff wellbeing and cultivates environmental stewardship’. We run a number of sessions for staff a month: a space for open discussion and catching up; a creative, physical or social activity designed to improve wellbeing; and ‘documentary & discussion’, a chance for staff to explore sensitive issues by watching and discussing a documentary on a particular topic. This final activity was introduced in response to the death of George Floyd, to provide staff with the opportunity to talk about issues surrounding race and racism.

Being responsive to the ups and downs that have come over the last nine months has been essential to supporting staff. We check in regularly and encourage staff’s input and participation, so we can learn about their current needs and challenges. Through our ‘Monthly Motivations’ newsletter we have shared information and guidance around wellbeing topics such as stress, mental health and sleep, as well as providing inspiration, encouragement and support. But throughout the pandemic we have worked to create a sense of togetherness and collaboration, and provide a combination of support and relief from work.

With the most recent lockdown meaning more time working from home, WELBA will continue to try and respond to the needs of staff across the organisation. Staff motivation and resilience are both important focus areas as we move forward, and we will be listening and learning as much as possible to understand the changing needs.  We are also connecting with other east London charities to share best practice and ideas, and are keen to learn from our corporate partners too. The wellbeing of staff is of the utmost importance as we continue to navigate these challenging times, and we want to ensure we are keeping it at the heart of everything we do.

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