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"I believe the principal challenge for an employer trying to improve its capabilities around wellbeing is the demand to work ‘below deck’ and ‘on deck’ at the same time." Leo Capernaros - Wellbeing Manager

Being announced as winners of ‘Wellbeing Team of the Year’ left myself and Ben Alcott (the chair of our Wellbeing Board) speechless, it was a great moment and fortunately there was no requirement to make a speech…phew.

We won the award based on the huge journey the Civil Aviation Authority has taken in terms of mental health and broader wellbeing over the last two years.  I should stress, this award doesn’t mark the end of that journey, rather a shiny marker post, telling us we’re on the right track.

A brief recap: We began by establishing our starting position, carrying out a deep-dive analysis of our data, listening to colleagues, and building a picture of best practice.  This led to the formation of a Wellbeing Board, hiring of a Wellbeing Manager (me!), building a network of MHFAs and the introduction of a wellbeing strategy.

This permanent ‘infrastructure’ then facilitated various policy and system reviews and the introduction a host of initiatives e.g. training for managers and staff, wellbeing classes, an online wellbeing assessment tool, health checks, a staff gym, colleague blogs, lunchtime speakers and wellbeing maps for our office locations.

I believe the principal challenge for an employer trying to improve its capabilities around wellbeing is the demand to work ‘below deck’ and ‘on deck’ at the same time.  ‘On deck’ you have all the visible stuff e.g. activities, campaigns, tools etc. ‘Below deck’ you have all the mechanics such as policy, systems, procedures and services.

If the approach focusses too much on policy, process, services (below deck) then employees will not see or feel a difference, stigmas remain unchallenged, colleagues won’t know how to access support and may remain reluctant to ask.  However, if the approach focusses too much on campaigns, events, new tools etc (on deck activity) then the credibility of this good work might be undermined by inadequate support systems that may let colleagues down at the crucial moment.

Both areas are of equal importance and need to be addressed in tandem (which is really difficult!).  However, at the CAA we do not view this as a project or an isolated campaign, rather a continuous process of improvement that is now part of our ‘business as usual’.

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Tim Skelter, Corporate Affairs, Quilter