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How charity leaders can invest in staff wellbeing

In December 2020, The Tudor Trust made the extraordinary decision to offer a one-off grant of £2,000 to all existing grantees, ‘to support staff, volunteer and trustee wellbeing’. It was a direct response to what the trust was hearing from their grantees, with the idea that it would be a simple way of acknowledging the pressures of working in a pandemic and contribute to relieving the stresses of doing so.  

Tudor have shared with us how they went about this and what they learnt. In this blog, we wanted to share how charities chose to support workforce wellbeing and the difference it made – in the hope that it offers inspiration for how charity leaders may look after themselves and their teams going forward.

Of the 615 grantees who accepted the Wellbeing Grant, a total of 508 completed a survey, helping us gather a picture of how the grants were spent and the difference they made to charities.

How did charities spend their wellbeing grant?

Events

Most organisations gravitated toward event-based activities, hosting social events, team trips, residential events and/or team building days. Some examples included Christmas parties, summer residential trips, meals out and Away Days.

The events allowed people to see each other in-person for the first time, following extended periods of remote working. A few also used gatherings as an opportunity to share achievements, ‘marking an end to the difficult period with a celebration…’.

Training and development

Coming in a close second to events, organisations invested in staff development through training, courses, workshops and professional, one-to-one support.

Steered by the grant, these activities upskilled staff and volunteers in wellbeing practices, including courses in:

  • Mental Health First Aid
  • Mindfulness
  • Counselling
  • Trauma-informed approaches
  • Advocacy
  • Secondary trauma
  • Conflict management

Support for individuals

Over half of grantees spent a part of their grants on tailored, individual wellbeing support.

Activities included:

  • Funding counselling or therapy
  • Sending personalised gifts or wellbeing packages
  • Offering relaxation opportunities such as Spa days, massages, yoga and/or mindfulness sessions.

Improving the work environment

Some grantees chose to improve the working environment for staff members – either at their homes or within the office spaces. Enhancements included furnishings and facility updates, such as plants, lumbar support and water filters.

One organisation even created a ‘quiet space [for staff] to take a break’, equipped with modern wellbeing features such as sensory lighting. The space was dual-purpose, transforming into a counselling room for clients and somewhere support groups could meet.

Subscriptions

A few – mainly larger – organisations opted for subscriptions and memberships, ranging from wellbeing apps to gym memberships.  

What difference did it make?

The Wellbeing Grant significantly contributed to improving staff and volunteers’ wellbeing.

The most notable differences were a positive effect on individual morale (74%); helping staff and volunteers reconnect with each other (70%), and providing the opportunity to rest, reflect and recuperate (60%).

Other individual benefits included:

  • Helping staff/volunteers prioritise self-care
  • Giving staff/volunteers hope and ‘something to look forward to’
  • Helping staff/volunteers identify and manage stress
  • Helping staff/volunteers support other team members experiencing grief or trauma (related to covid)

In addition to individual wellbeing, the benefits extended to the organisation itself, supporting them to deliver their charitable objectives. Grantees felt that the Wellbeing Grant helped them: support team/organisational culture (82%); work more effectively to reduce stress and tensions (73%) and feel more able to fulfil the requirements of their roles (52%).

Other organisational benefits included:

  • Reinvigorating the connection between vision and mission
  • Allowing time for more focused or strategic thinking
  • Influencing organisational policies, practice and procedures

Conclusion

Investing in staff wellbeing can have significant benefits on individuals, teams and the organisation as a whole. With the pandemic stretching into 2022, staff wellbeing must be a significant item on the agenda – especially as teams continue to grapple with new and pre-existing challenges compounded by our current situation.

From this work, we’ve seen and heard that careful consideration of wellbeing activities can have positive and far-reaching results. The approach each organisation takes depends on their size and resources; and many involved staff and volunteers in deciding what to prioritise.

Dedicated time and resource to focus on wellbeing, even in the short-term, not only gave charities an opportunity to address wellbeing concerns – it also prompted them to think about how they support wellbeing in the future and/or to explore opportunities to embed approaches that would have a lasting legacy.

Forward-thinking funds, such as Tudor’s Wellbeing Grant, emphasise the message that it’s okay and beneficial to prioritise and invest in wellbeing – while also feeling like a meaningful and sensitive gesture from a funder.

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