RAW Network closes another year in reflection

Just as the shorter day draws us to go within and ‘hygge’ down at this wintery time of year, so did our last RAW session of this year.

This fourth session was of course a freebie we threw in to the year… I know we’re generous like that! We wanted to make sure there was more time for celebration, reflection and of course wanting to create a quarterly rhythm to our face to face connections.

Engage kindly offered to host us at their fab offices in Leeds and we were met on arrival by Chester the dog who half of us were more interested in than the conversation (he was super cute, but less interested in us sadly).

After a quick tour of the super cool offices, we eloped to the boardroom to start our reflections. As a smaller and intimate group it gave us real opportunity to connect as a peer group, and co-create the agenda for the session together.  We decided to take a jolly trip (and reminder) of the sessions one at a time so we could reflect on what we’ve learnt, what’s still yet to be learnt and celebrate any wins.

In our February event we started by introducing the AVIRA framework that we’d hold as a route map for the year ahead. (Awareness, Vision, Imagination, Responsibility and Action). A model courtesy of our partner Insiad Business School. We looked at vision, did we have one as an organisation? Did we have a wellbeing vision? Did we feel we needed one? We had different points of view on this topic and felt that it definitely warranted further exploration next year. Some of our partners had visions, some tended to use values and goals more as an intention.  We talked about Simon Sinek and his Start with Why work and why a vision that speaks to hearts as well as minds is important, especially in this whole person work of cultivating resilience.  This also led us to discuss the tipping point, did everyone need to be on board or did we just need a majority? Was 30% enough for a tipping point?

Our May event moved us between vision and imagination and as well as exploring two case studies (Skipton Building Society and Leeds Federated Housing), we looked at Corporate Social Responsibility as a guide to finding our way into wellbeing, are we being reactive and compliant, or fully strategic or somewhere in the middle of the continuum? This took our conversation into measurement and a fruity conversation about whether sickness was the best measure for better wellbeing. We talked about WYP and that with better wellbeing awareness in the police force, they actually saw an increase in sickness, as more people felt it was ok to be off and to report it as mental health (rather than fudge a bad back or dicky tummy story). North Star shared that they use the stress test which is a resilience test staff can access. We concluded that reputation is the ultimate measure for wellbeing and how it can attract and retain great talent.

In September, our full day, we had two external speakers, the fabulous Jodie Hill from Thrive Law, talking all things mental health first aid and Sarah Moore from Yorkshire Building Society sharing a best practice approach. We also had time to interact with the Whole Person approach to Resilience and Workplace of Tomorrow. Any radical change to ways of working was seen to induce a huge need to do more work on the topics of trust and control, two areas that were seen as a challenge for any organisation. We side tracked for a while to discuss health screening (something Leeds Fed do and feel it’s money worth spending) as well as Wellness Action Plans. This then took us down another side street of counselling which many organisations get through EAP (employee assistance programs).  Some of our RAW members were surprised to discover that Oasis also offer counselling services for employees going through difficult times. We had lived experience in the room of the benefit which was heartwarming to witness.

Finally we spent some time co-creating next year’s theme for members. We agreed it was important to have a ‘test and learn’ opportunity and to critique each others’ ideas. There was a need to have a goal upfront (individually and for the organisation) as a way of tracking the impact of RAW in their worlds. And a hearty conversation about the need for better engagement around RAW, what are we each doing, and why, how do we hope it will help our employees, what do they need to know about RAW? And also great feedback that a peer-based approach (like this session had been) was invaluable for learning.

And finally, finally, we stopped, we kicked back and shared a glass of something fizzy and a rather
sugary Christmas cupcake as we celebrated all that we had managed to explore in just one year of our members network.