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Learning and development is typically thought of as a way to improve the effectiveness of a business and its team. Improving skill sets, enhancing knowledge and assisting your team’s personal and professional growth can have a big impact on your business. Employees will ultimately bring more to the table – using their new-found expertise to boost output. This will help your business to deliver great results, whether you’re offering a product or a service.

When we think about learning and development, chances are courses and seminars spring to mind. Tests, key takeaways, tangible learnings… things we can use practically within our day-to-day role to improve the way we work.

It’s now time to start discussing how businesses can incorporate wellbeing into their learning and development strategy. Studies show that companies with a great culture and strong wellbeing focus often attract and retain the most productive, engaged and happy employees. This can only be a great thing for your business. So why aren’t managers given the training and development they need to support their team’s wellbeing?

Supporting a team’s health and happiness should be a key competency for line managers. After all, the way a line manager interacts with their team makes a huge difference to their work life.

Manager training empowers managers to support their teams. Individuals may not have the innate skills to lead tough conversations or provide adequate emotional support. In the same way you wouldn’t expect a member of staff to automatically pass an exam without studying first, don’t expect your managers to automatically be able to support their team without training.

There is an art to leading wellbeing discussions, and finding the right balance between ensuring your team’s happiness but pushing them to achieve results for your business can be tricky. You want your team to feel motivated and challenged, but supported and encouraged to grow.

Arranging wellbeing training for line managers across your business will ensure teams at every level are supported. It inspires individuals to create positive change amongst their own teams. Practicing active listening, knowing when to spot signs someone is struggling and having the tools to deal with this effectively is key to being a great manager.

Help managers to spot the signs and symptoms of key issues such as stress, anxiety and depression. We know that mental health problems are a key cause of absences in the workplace, so giving managers the tools they need to address these problems can help your business save money in the long run. Reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, increase employee retention rates and ultimately give your team the tools they need to do their best. 

Mental health awareness is also a particularly important part of learning and development in the wellbeing sphere. Managers should have a good understanding of mental health, the early signs of mental health problems and how to signpost team members to further help and support if necessary. It’s imperative managers know how to talk about mental health effectively with their team.

Like all types of learning and development, mental health awareness training offers practical guidance on how to support team members who may be struggling. This includes how to approach difficult situations, what questions to ask and how to respond appropriately.

For example, find the right time and place to have the discussion. Make sure you aren’t surrounded by other colleagues so you can have a confidential, comfortable conversation. Pay attention to what the other person is saying, and reflect back key points so they know you’ve been listening intently. Ask appropriate, open-ended questions sensitively, to ensure you’re getting to the root of their concerns. This will make team members feel valued, and more likely to open up and share their concerns. It’s also important to train managers to help find a resolve, without necessarily needing to find a solution. Discuss and explore options together, and encourage further communication to check-in and ensure the team member is coping.

Line managers are exceptionally busy with their own tasks, but it’s part of their job to support their team’s wellbeing in addition to their team’s progress. Taking the time out to address potential problems will be invaluable to the individual who’s struggling. Whether it’s workplace stress or a problem in their home life, employees spend a huge amount of their time at work and it’s important they feel supported. Whilst personal issues shouldn’t, in theory, change the way a person works or behaves on company time – it’s a fact of life that what happens at home can have an impact on our overall level of wellbeing. Managers need to understand how to offer additional support where needed to ensure minimal disruption to an employee’s productivity and workplace motivation.

Wellbeing should run throughout your company’s culture. This includes incorporating wellbeing and mental health training into your learning and development strategy.

Andy Romero-BirkbeckFounder & Director – We are Wellbeing Ltd

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