Our forums with leaders from accounting, law and other professional service firms take place monthly and are hosted in partnership with Foulger Underwood.
Our latest call followed the late September announcements from the Prime Minister and Rishi Sunak that adapted the approach to lockdown and the government response to support. This, in addition to the conversations that everyone had been having with clients perhaps lead to the lower level of confidence in the economy , with 75% of leaders less confident in the economic outlook than a month before.
The key topics on leaders minds were:
Supporting your people
The announcement that further restrictions would come into place immediately and last for up to 6 months has come as a blow to many, especially those who have been planning their return to work in the office. A number of firms who had asked people to come back into the office faced a U turn that they needed to return to work from home for the foreseeable future.
This is disruptive not only to organising office accommodation, but psychologically it has a profound impact on expectation. Fear is natural. It is also manageable when you can take action to mitigate the risks involved. The challenge at the present time is the lack of certainty about how long arrangements like this may persist. With fear back on the agenda, firms are having to be clever and creative about ways to connect with their people and teams.
Some of the largest organisations such as Google are not expecting a return to the office until the middle of 2021, EY have announced no office working until at least January ‘21. One global law firm has said it will not hold any face to face staff conferences until 2022. For some this seems like a radical, perhaps unnecessary statement. However, what it achieves is a level of certainty for all involved. Whether or not you like it, people are able to adapt their lifestyle, with certainty, and plan for the next 6 to 9 months.
Many firms have mental health First Aiders and while the UK has been a little lacklustre in engaging with the idea, created over 20 years ago, it has gained traction in many professional services firms in the last five years and is now commonplace. Some firms will even engage with occupational health on a part-time basis.
If you would like advice on how you can do this or support for your teams please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
At lockdown in March the leadership teams in all organisations of any size asked their leaders to pay particular attention to all of their team as they would only be meeting them virtually and it would be important to provide extra support to everybody involved in these “unprecedented times”.
A number of leaders and people at all levels are missing the office and the “colour” and variety it bought, which is affecting job satisfaction and the enthusiasm to take the business forwards for some; for others leaders the changes have reignited the drive to change the way the business works.
A lot has been done to support employees since then and now that we enter the second phase of managing the outbreak, certainly in the UK, some firms are finding that more senior employees and partners are now finding it challenging to shoulder the responsibility of managing the well-being of so many people.
It is important that they have a voice and an opportunity to share some of the challenges, confidentially, that they have been discussing with their teams. Some firms have been meeting with their leaders, one-to-one, face-to-face to check how they are really doing and offer support.
Professional coaches (and counsellors) all have something called ‘supervision’, that is an essential part of every professional’s mental well-being, in order that they can continue to function effectively. Supervision supports the coach, mentor, partner or leader and asks them to objectively analyse some of the toughest conversations they have had. It also challenges some levels of perceived responsibility so that any leader is clear that they can offer support, provide help and signpost people to external sources of information and help remember, ultimately the responsibility lies with the individual staff member who is struggling. One cannot and must not take responsibility away from them, otherwise we disempower them.
If you would like to discuss how to help support your leadership teams please do get in touch: email@example.com
Most firms have found the transition to remote working straightforward and even BT have commented that they have been “surprised at the level of success that the nations broadband network has achieved” since Covid struck. However, as restrictions continue further checks and balances will be necessary to ensure staff continue to work safely from home: Adequate seating, health and safety checks, workplace risk assessments. Some firms are considering switching from loans for purchase of travel/season tickets, towards provision of a home office.
Here’s a link to a recent research survey conducted by Saffery Champness in to the future of the office and consideration for firms and staff.
Our next call is on 23rd October at 13.00 – please email firstname.lastname@example.org to join.
Summaries of earlier calls can be found here.