As we were growing up, many of us were told “If you work hard, you will be successful and that will make you happy.” But I believe that equation is the wrong way around. Think about it. Think about a time when you were well and happy in your personal life. You were possibly working on all cylinders, bringing work in before deadline and managing to have a social life outside of that! Contrast that to a time when your personal life was not so great and you may find you were less productive. Spending your time googling self-help books rather than working on the books!  Presenteeism, defined as the problem of employees being in the workplace but less productive due to illness, injury or mental health cost the UK economy around £45bn pounds per annum according to the Stephenson Farmer Report of 2017…and that was well before the pandemic hit! (Thriving at Work: the Stevenson/Farmer review on mental health and employers October 2017)

So why is the equation the wrong way around? To instil a good work ethic into our younger generations maybe? It is true that productivity will boost mood levels.  There is something satisfying about being able to tick off those tasks on your to-do list. This naturally sends signals to your brain to release a certain amount of dopamine (your body’s natural mood enhancer) into your system.

What we also have to remember is that happiness is not a constant state. Happiness is a mood; it is a condition that will come and go and that’s okay.  Throughout our lives there will be experiences that bring unrivalled happiness and joy, just as there will be moments and life events that bring us sadness and despair. Most of my clients love the Bounce Forward Programme as it helps us learn how to navigate these peaks and troughs and develop the ability to bounce back to high productivity as we talked about last month.

The Warwick Research Archive Portal (WRAP) makes their work by researchers of the University of Warwick available. They conducted a study was carried out to provide evidence that “Happiness” makes humans more productive. Four kinds of experiment were done.  Each produced evidence consistent with the idea that “happier” workers are intrinsically more productive.  In total, more than 700 subjects took part in these trials. For their full experiment you can follow the link below. http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/63228

When we chase happiness in the traditional way, through hard work we can often find the chase never ending as one success will soon be taken for granted when another one on the horizon reveals itself…and we tell ourselves we need to achieve that and THEN we will be happy…it goes on and on!

I believe that when we have good wellbeing and are in the main happy, we perform better, become more productive and THAT leads to success!

Do you have someone on your team that is not performing? Are they struggling with something at work or at home that is contributing to their distracted work ethic maybe? They are not alone .

According to the Mosaic Mood Report in 2020, 47% of lawyers cited their main reason for being unhappy was because of poor life/work balance…and 84% stated that time was the key factor preventing them from investing in their own wellbeing. Despite me furnishing attendees on my course with a wealth of coaching techniques, it is this permission from the organisation to take time out and the opportunity to connect with others on a deeper level that people are most impacted by during the pandemic.

It’s so hard in this virtual office to know who is coping and who isn’t. If in doubt- ask. Gentle enquiry can really help your colleague open up if they need to. Take time out to check in after a meeting, being congruent about what you have noticed. Have regular 10 minute catch ups with team members to see how they are and have a “Do not talk shop” policy for these calls. Do not be afraid to offer support. Lawcare offer a free confidential service to all legal professionals and support staff in UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. We know from our own research that 75% of leaders will not go to an internal source with a personal issue that could be affecting their work but cost often puts employers off finding an external solution. Law firms are often subject to a scatter gun approach, adding in the odd webinar or mental health training in the hope that the right boxes will be ticked. It’s a bit like going out in a gale force wind with an umbrella, the solution is OK for a while, but not going to last. Investing in a programme that supports those highly valued employees with complete confidentiality may cost the organisation but firms that do see the benefit on the bottom line! In their report on mental health and employers, ‘Refreshing the case for investment’ January 2020, Deloitte reported a £5.00 return on investment for every £1.00 spent on employee wellbeing.

So how are firms doing something different to make a difference?

I have recently worked with a large commercial team in Birmingham who are conducting a survey that really drills down into the work lives of employees in a non COVID environment as well as within it. Making sure your approach is tailored to the needs of your team is a great start and will ensure that you invest in the right area.

Peter Taylor at Paris Smith has a weekly wellbeing catch up and asks his teams to call a colleague or a client that they have not spoken to in sometime. That connection will make client and colleague alike feel valued and surely that is good for the bottom line!

Taylor Wessing invested in the Headspace App for each employee after their 100 trial subscriptions were snapped up in minutes.

Jon Stevens from DWF spoke at the Birmingham Law Society Future of Legal Services Conference this month about the importance of communication being honest and open and setting an example to those in your team. Afterall, if a leader can be open about their challenges, it opens the floor for others to recognise it’s OK to not be OK.

Bernadette Bennett from Moneypenny at the same conference mentioned that she has internal meetings over the phone, so she can ‘walk and talk’, getting some fresh air and exercise and permitting colleagues to do the same.

There are many solutions that will support the individual and if we can continue to work on the premise that happiness leads to success and NOT the other way round then our clients, organisations and our bottom line will reap the rewards.

Rebecca is running her Bounce Forward Programme currently to support those facing setback and details of her work can be found at www.guruyoucoach.com

If you are a parent you may be interested in this link to help gather the experiences and opinions of those working with children at home. https://www.thelawyer.com/the-lawyer-working-parents-survey/