Mental Health Awareness Week 2021: 5 minutes with Lorna Killick

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Mental Health Awareness Week 2021: 5 minutes with Lorna Killick

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week we had a chat with ODGroup’s Head of People and Workplace, Lorna Killick.

Lorna joined ODGroup earlier this year and has recently qualified as a Mental Health First Aider, completing NCFE CACHE Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Mental Health First Aid and Mental Health Advocacy in the Workplace.

Lorna Killick, Head of People and Workplace

1. What is your role at ODGroup?
I’m Head of People and Workplace at ODGroup, I joined the team in March and my role covers all aspects of HR and workplace management.

2. What is your mental health qualification?
I recently completed NCFE CACHE Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Mental Health First Aid and Mental Health Advocacy in the Workplace. As a qualified First Aider, I recognised the importance of widening my skill set to be able to promote mental health as well as physical health – particularly post-pandemic. The purpose of the qualification is to give learners the skills and knowledge to support colleagues across the spectrum of mental health, helping to maintain a ‘mentally healthy’ workplace for all.

3. How will this qualification complement your role at ODGroup?
On the workplace management side, we’re about to refurbish our office and my learnings will complement the physical wellbeing-focused changes to the space to create a holistic welfare strategy for our team. As part of the refurbishment, we hope to achieve a recognised wellbeing certification to demonstrate our commitment to wellness within the design, policies, and operations of our updated workplace.

On the HR side, it is well documented that in male-dominated industries, such as construction, not everyone feels comfortable sharing their struggles. Completing this qualification will help me to create a mentally healthy environment for all ODGroup employees, particularly through encouraging conversations about mental wellbeing in our offices and on our construction sites.

4. How do you think working from home has impacted our mental health?
There is often an assumption that everyone loves working from home but that is simply not true. Team members who live alone, or in flat shares, or who do not have the space or kit for a proper setup, can find themselves with a rough deal. Although working from home can create a better work-life balance in some instances, most people benefit mentally from variety, a change of scene, and incidental social interactions – things that can be difficult to achieve in the relative isolation of a home office. The key is finding an appropriate balance.

A recent survey I carried out to establish the most influential factors on our team’s wellbeing post-pandemic had interesting results. The 3 factors that mattered the most to our employees were:

  • Relationships with colleagues
  • Work/life balance and boundaries
  • Space and ability to change work setting

5. How can we overcome the anxieties about returning to the office?
Engaging with staff as much as possible is essential to help understand differing attitudes as well as any potential concerns. I have always found it’s important to be as transparent as possible with the team on the reasoning for any major workplace decision – if you want to bring your staff back to the office, help them to understand the why, for them, for the company, and for the local community. Actively promote two-way feedback around safety points and try to act on concerns as quickly and efficiently as possible. Most workplace changes are easily achievable through training and behavioural change, and will not require you to make physical alterations to your workplace.

When you do return to your workplace, I would recommend implementing a staged approach, bringing your team on the journey with you. It’s important to remember that no one size fits all, so getting the right balance for a whole spectrum of roles and personal requirements can take time.

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