- Posted Monday March 29, 2021
I have been hearing how some of your staff are being verbally abused resulting in some of them having a wobble and feeling low. The most concerning part of the Practice Manager’s job is dealing with abuse from the patients, the very people we’re trying to help.
It actually made me think about how they could refocus themselves in such situations. Of course, it’s good to take a break but what do you actually gain from 20 minutes away from your desk/ phone?
As Samantha, our HR Specialist, recently wrote in another article, the Working Time Regulations state that any employee working over 6 hours in a day is entitled to a 20 minute break. So “legally”, employees are only entitled to 20 mins in a full working day. That can also be paid, or not paid.
Of course, most employers do give much more than this. But legally, there is no right to a mid morning or mid afternoon break. Just 20minutes, taken at a reasonable time
What is interesting is that the WTR also state that the break should be taken away from the place of work. Of course, a staff room counts, but sitting outside in the sunshine or listening to some music in the car, visiting a local park etc. etc., can also be really beneficial.
I’ve spoken with some PMs that have created spaces in their Practice for a safe, well-being environment, their quiet corners; somewhere that staff can go and try to relax, or even escape to when they begin to feel the need, especially in a stressful situation.
I am aware too that some hospitals have created safe Wellbeing Rooms which have a calm environment which helps staff to relax and a great escape when things get too much. Certainly, in this time of Covid, the rooms are very important to help staff remove themselves from difficult and stressful situations - we all need space to deal with our emotions and our mental well-being, so we can be fit to enjoy a good quality of life and to help others.
Something like a wellbeing room that you can escape to can make a massive difference. So why not discuss the idea of a ‘Quiet Corner’ with your Patient Representatives and add it to all the other amazing things that you do for your staff, something like this will really benefit you and your staff. Just by supporting them you can reduce absenteeism, make a happier place to work which, in turn, can boost morale which in turn can boost productivity (how about getting them involved in designing it?)
So what would 'Good Breaks' look like?
Check out our top five;
- Quiet Corner
Go to your quiet corner, and get a drink, briefly leaving your workstation and giving your brain/ body a rest. Invest in you for 20 minutes or whatever your employer has agreed with you. You will go back to your desk a lot calmer and possibly happier.
- Walk and connect with nature
A good 20-minute walk will release the creative ideas in a different part of your brain and helps to renew focus. It also can help induce a calm state. If you’re not able to connect with nature from where you work, just a simple breathing exercise can reduce you to the same calm state.
- Take a breather
A mini meditation – just 30 seconds can relax your mind by purposefully taking slow, deep breaths. It helps by you not thinking about work and concentrating on you only.
- Lunch break
Use your lunch break wisely – good food, healthy snack and drink. Fill up your water bottle. Time to recharge your mind and body by hydrating and eating well, haven’t you heard the saying “I feel so much better just needed something to eat”
- Switch a task
Sometimes you just can’t take a break for whatever reason. There is just so much to do and there is only you. Switching to a different task for a change uses a different part of your brain and in its self can feel like a mini break, so when you do eventually get back to the large task you will feel the benefit of changing tasks for a short while.
Support your team's mental wellbeing
Poor mental health costs employers between £33 billion and £42 billion a year. Let’s help each other realize the benefits to taking well-being breaks.
Now taking breaks whilst at work is important but consideration must also be given (and I know from Managers this is a topic which is high on their list to tackle well) to how you handle stress particularly in the climate we are all in. How come some managers are more able to handle it than others? Both their own stress and that of their staff
I’m sure you would agree that an important part of coping with prolonged stress at work is putting in a robust policy of ‘switching off’, so that when you clock off you actually switch off. Having heard from some of you (and your staff) who have been working till midnight some nights (with the Covid Vaccination Clinics), it’s very understandable that you are struggling.
Even when you are not at work, your mind is still thinking about the organization, staffing and many more things. Your mind will not switch off and this is when issues tend to creep in and your wellbeing is impacted negatively.
It may sound like a simple question, but have you thought about how you ‘disconnect’ from work? It’s not an easy one, and many have shared how hard it is to do, especially just now. Their staff say how hard it is for them too, as they dread going into work the following day, knowing that having left it all yesterday, it will all start again.
Have you thought about appointing a stress champion or a wellbeing lead? Someone who steps in or someone the stressed employee can go to when they are in need of a moment of support?
Look at the benefits once you can disconnect from work.
- First (and most importantly) is the issue of Mental Health. Of course, we want good mental health
- Greater work/life balance – absolutely it’s the dream, make it happen.
- Less tired/Looking after self – to dedicate time for you. Put it your self-diary e.g. ‘tonight I will have an early night’.
- A greater enjoyment of your daily work - looking after others and doing what you are good at doing. All because you know how to disconnect at the end of the working day.
Key Points for Wellbeing
Don’t make decisions when you are distracted and overwhelmed with work. You may sign up to more work, get over committed and end up with unfinished tasks that start to build up, which can then cause you more stress to cope with.
- Deal with one thing at a time.
- Finish the task before starting the next or at least leave it at a point where you can easily pick it up again.
- Arrange the day, with maybe dealing with the quick fixes first which should give you more time to have concentrated time for the other larger tasks.
- Don’t forget time for self – so very important
- Have a wind down routine before clocking off.
And, according to an article I recently read, a study found that people who cook dinner rather than having a microwave meal or a takeaway can switch off more easily, probably because it’s an activity that can absorb their attention completely. If you couple that with some good music, it makes a difference and shows why switching off from work is a MUST for your wellbeing.
See you next time when we will look at positive thinking.