In these challenging times, with tight budgets, pressure from funders, further cuts to local services, and the continued uncertainty of how Brexit will play out, an organisational malaise can take hold, affecting everyone from the chief executive to your volunteers.
But when the going gets tough, the leadership of an organisation needs to get going – although in an ethical and engaging manner. Yes, difficult decisions may be needed, but the enthusiasm of staff and volunteers is crucial to success, and with it, their continued wellbeing at work.
This doesn’t mean you should introduce yoga classes and mindfulness sessions (although these do have a place in helping both mental and physical wellbeing). But it does mean that leaders should look, listen and respond. For once you have identified the pressure points, you can develop ways to mitigate such problems.
For example, you might learn that communications need to improve, so that in future everyone knows what is happening, what is expected and where the organisation is going. If so, maybe the answer is a better system of supervision and appraisal, together with regular team briefings and consultations?
It might be that individuals feel they lack control over their daily tasks. So can you give them more control and autonomy over what they do? Do your teams need to share tasks more effectively? Do people have the skills and tools for the job? Can work-life balance be improved?
On the other hand it could be a lack of strategic direction that is holding things back, impacting on morale and performance. Time then to sit down with the trustees and plan for the future, building trust and ownership with some input from staff and volunteers.
Don’t forget too about the working environment. A safe and healthy workplace is not just a legal requirement but a key element of wellbeing.
Of course sometimes, the problem is the leadership itself. Are you a people person? Are you under too much pressure yourself? Time perhaps for some self-reflection, some support and some coaching.
Whatever pressures you identify, if you can develop a well workplace, based on good ethics and effective engagement, you can embed a wellbeing culture. The results will be more motivated staff and volunteers, improved morale, and a happier workplace.
For your organisation, while by no means eliminating them, operational problems should in future be much less of a challenge.