The beginning of February is Time to Talk Day, an annual awareness day run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. It’s an opportunity for us all to start a conversation about mental health and how it affects us.
Here, Trisha Bahl starts a conversation about some of the steps Wildfire takes to ensure people look out for themselves — and others — while at work.
With closed eyes, we immersed ourselves in the captivating resonance of gongs echoing throughout the room. Advised to remain in the present moment, the experience was a rare occurrence where individuals from diverse cultures came together with the shared goal of experiencing something extraordinary — something beyond the typical day-to-day routine of work.
Those are the words I hastily scribbled down as I left a unique event to promote well-being in the workplace. It was my first experience of a sound healing session, part of a series of well-being workshops organised by Wildfire. And it left such an impact upon me, I felt that I had to capture it in some way.
As well as meditative sessions, there were also therapeutic massages, yoga, and ‘tapping’ — a technique I was unfamiliar with until then. As the name suggests, tapping involves gently ‘tapping’ on specific body parts to improve emotional well-being, particularly in managing stress or negative feelings.
Chatting with colleagues as we left the room, we all felt remarkably more relaxed after a challenging day at work having acquired a new tool to steer us through stressful times in life.
Given that one in 14 UK adults (7%) experiences daily stress — and mental health issues are a growing concern — I’m delighted that Wildfire takes such an active interest in personal well-being.
And it’s not just holding events such as yoga or sound baths. Fittingly for Time to Talk Day, there’s also a big emphasis on talking as well.
Never underestimate the value of regular check-ins
Honestly, I eagerly look forward to my weekly catch-ups with my development manager. During these sessions, I can pour my heart out, talk about any challenges I face, and share the highlights of my week.
Your development manager is not only there to guide and support you, but can simply be there as a patient listener. Fortnightly or weekly sessions with development managers prove invaluable in identifying potential stressors early on, helping to cultivate an environment of trust and friendship at work.
Being able to turn to someone — to have the opportunity to talk to someone about your personal or professional life — is really important.
Encourage social connections
I am genuinely a fan of open workspaces. It provides a working environment that encourages people to talk and engage socially. You can see when someone is down or is withdrawn or troubled. And we can share laughter over peculiar one-liners all day long.
What’s more, regular team-building activities and social events like team offsites, recreational events like quizzes, and the annual Christmas dinner create positive social connections allowing colleagues to get to know each other better.
Finding joy in your work is significantly heightened when you work with colleagues whose company you truly enjoy.
Whether it’s sharing sandwiches and sushi to celebrate a colleague’s promotion or receiving shout-outs on social media and Slack, Wildfire excels at keeping its people joyful. After all, don’t we all secretly appreciate that bit of recognition from our peers and seniors?
I vividly recall the double celebration at Wildfire when they announced our joint MDs — on the day of the King’s coronation. The meeting room was adorned to resemble a delightful afternoon tea arrangement, featuring exquisite coronation banners displayed throughout the space.
Recognising both individual and team accomplishments not only boosts morale but also nurtures a positive work atmosphere. Praising good work — no matter how small — undeniably has positive effects.
Perk it up with pretty workspaces
Last year, three of our small breakout rooms underwent a vibrant makeover when the leadership team tasked us with renovating some of our workspace. Several teams collaborated to select their preferred styles and designs, resulting in changes to every room.
This was not only a ‘Do Good’ initiative but also led to ‘increased interaction among colleagues’. In other words, when we weren’t painting, hanging wallpaper or shifting furniture, we were talking.
From delightful tones of pink to deep forest greens, we covered it all. These renovated spaces not only provide areas for collaboration but also seamlessly accommodate those seeking some solo ‘me time’ for focused work.
Whether it’s concentrating on a task, taking a call or watching a webinar, these rooms exude an unparalleled aesthetic charm. By organising such activities at work, it not only brings endless energy to the table but also shows us — the employees — that we matter.
Mental health days
With World Mental Health Day in October our team had a day off to spend the day as we pleased. It not only provided employees with a break with no added pressures, but also acknowledged the importance of mental well-being.
But, of course, looking after your mental health is not something just for one day a year. Or even two if you include Time to Talk Day. This is why the year-round support I’ve already mentioned is so important.
After all, supporting mental health at work is a win-win situation. It helps employees feel good, do good, and be more productive. It’s about making work a place where people can thrive both professionally and personally.
In the words of award-winning actress Glenn Close, “What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candour, and more unashamed conversation.” I couldn’t agree more.