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Showing that we care

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We have four cultural values here in PDS: care, community, curiosity, and confidence. We recently held a cultural values day which focused on the care value. The purpose was to give people dedicated time away from their day jobs to focus on helping staff take care of themselves, their colleagues, and customers and users.

Practical tools and techniques for staff

I (Dan) volunteered to curate the care day as I've been lucky enough to receive some amazing training and to meet some really inspirational people over the past few years. I got to invite some of them along to Parliament and the aim was to equip people with some practical tools and techniques that they could take away from the day. Things like mindfulness, mental health awareness, and sleep hygiene.

We also wanted to bring together the in-house resources that we have here in Parliament. Things like ‘My Family Care’ which is a service that helps staff achieve a good balance between work and family life, the Workplace Equality Networks, and the Health and Wellbeing service.

The day itself

Staff during the session on how to get a good night's sleep

From that starting point, I (John) could organise the logistics for the day.

Dr Jutta Tobias started the event with her talk on ‘everyday mindfulness’. Within ten minutes, she had 180 people on their feet doing an exercise called a snowglobe (where you shake your body like it's a snowglobe). She used this to explain why it’s important to be fully present in any situation and to recognise the brain’s two operating modes: doing versus being.

Next up was Dr Emma Jefferies and Alex Kean from HMRC Digital who shared what they have learnt by creating and introducing workplace empathy. They explained how increasing empathy in their organisation has led to empowered and engaged teams who build services that are user-centric.

Our local engagement team followed on from this and they explained what their team does, what they’ve been up to, and their tips on demonstrating the value of care. As a remote team, they explained how they care for all the MP constituency offices up and down the country, and for each other.

Trevor Pierce is a parliamentary health and wellbeing advisor and he spoke about mental health in the workplace. He explained why the work environment was so important for good mental health and talked about some simple everyday things we can all do.

Our penultimate speaker was Dr Jennifer Sole, a clinical psychologist, who gave us practical advice on how to get a good night’s sleep. She gave us tips on good sleep hygiene including what you should and shouldn’t do in bed.

Simon Burton, a Senior Clerk in the House of Lords, was our final speaker of the day. Simon gave us a candid tour of many of the issues that he and the House of Lords are facing. These include Brexit, safeguarding, and impartiality and how these affect how they care for colleagues.

We also did a coat collection for charity and we were able to send 40 coats donated from staff.

What people thought

Feedback from the event showed that 59% of those who attended enjoyed all the sessions and the mindfulness presentation was the one that people enjoyed the most. It was great hearing that 96% of attendees said they had taken away one practical thing that they could do to help take care of themselves, or their colleagues, while at work.

Here's some feedback that we had about the day itself:

Great that PDS is committing to better supporting their staff.

Some feedback about the speakers:

The speakers were all great, especially the mindfulness one. Nice to see so many staff there.

And the parliamentary services:

Very helpful to hear about services available to staff and to network with colleagues.

We're grateful to our fabulous speakers (many were volunteers) for giving up their time and sharing their expertise with us. It’s been lovely to hear stories from people across PDS about how the day has led them to change their behaviours. Simple things like having dinner with family away from technology and going to bed at a more sensible time.

We have dedicated days to follow for our other cultural values – confidence, curiosity and community.

If you want to find out more about the cultural values work then contact Dan Cook or Julie Byrne.

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