Workplace wellbeing should be at the top of everyone’s agenda – Richard Foley

Adopting the Mindful Business Charter is vital, says Richard Foley

Richard Foley is Senior Partner, Pinsent Masons LLP

As businesses adapt to new ways of working in light of the unprecedented challenges caused by Covid-19, I am delighted to see the ground-breaking wellbeing initiative, the Mindful Business Charter, being rolled out across Pinsent Masons’ Scottish offices.

The Charter, devised by Pinsent Masons, Barclays and Addleshaw Goddard, brought corporates and their legal services providers together to reach a shared agenda for reducing unnecessary causes of stress and pressure in the workplace and thereby ensuring higher team performances.

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Fully adopting the Charter underlines our commitment to further eradicating negative working practices that can impact mental health and wellbeing and there is surely no more critical time than the present to support colleagues. All signatories have committed to a set of principles centred on improved communication, respect for rest periods, and considerate delegation of tasks and management of deadlines. Performance against these principles is monitored as part of relationship review meetings between corporate legal teams and their external advisers.

Over the last 18 months, Pinsent Masons has rolled out the Charter across a number of global teams and now we are asking our entire UK workforce, including more than 500 staff in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, to pledge to the Charter and adhere to its principles.

In the midst of the pandemic, this has never been more important. The mental health and wellbeing of our people has been on the agenda for many years and all evidence suggests that properly rested, valued and respected teams perform better. Covid-19 has highlighted how important it is to support our colleagues and clients as we all grapple with the reality of working through the lockdown. These are tough times for a multitude of personal and professional reasons and recognising and responding to this is crucial to sustaining wellbeing and maintaining performance.

The Charter roll-out sends a powerful message to everyone; there are things we can do to safeguard their wellbeing as they seek to adjust to the new norm, juggling work and family commitments and dealing with the personal impact.

As an agile business, we were prepared from a practical and tech perspective to swiftly respond to lockdown and have the majority of our people work from home immediately. While positive from a business continuity perspective, we cannot ignore the impact this sudden shift in daily life will have had as many colleagues work irregular or longer hours, attempting to combine responsibilities of work and home life.

The Charter is about reducing the unnecessary causes of stress and pressure. It’s about open and sensible conversations. Ultimately it’s about high-performance and engaging with clients about the benefits this will bring to them and us.

The UK-wide roll out means our firm pledges to promote a culture of openness to improve performance by ensuring our people are mindful of working practices that might create unnecessary stress.

This includes committing to provide appropriate team cover so individuals aren’t interrupted during holiday or on non-working days, being open to push-back on unrealistic deadlines, and hosting regular ‘speak your mind’ sessions in which teams are encouraged to highlight concerns or practices which might impact upon wellbeing.

Since its launch in 2018 a total of 54 institutions, law firms and corporates have signed up to the Mindful Business Charter.

Richard Foley is Senior Partner, Pinsent Masons LLP

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