Post Office will celebrate International Men’s Day on November 19. The celebration will include shortlisting encouraging men from all aspects of the business. They will be involved in several issues related to work-life balance, mental health and the literacy of boys.
Nick Trowler, the Pipeline Operations Manager, Birmingham & NCCART shared his viewpoints. He explained that anyone and everyone can get affected by mental health problems. However, men unlike women, generally do not reach out for professional assistance or speak to their close ones. They also have a higher likeability of getting hooked on alcohol or drugs. For this reason, it is crucial for men in the workforce to gain awareness about the availability of instant help.
Nick Trowler is also a leader for well-being on a supply chain level. He spoke about why it is significant to highlight the issues related to mental health. Trowler explained that even if he is a leader of well-being in the supply chain, he cares deeply for mental health. He remembered the time when he had to face considerable hurdles for a few years after his divorce. For him, adapting to life as a single parent proved to be quite difficult. He had to take on the responsibilities of caring for his then 13-year-old son, along with handling pressures at the workplace. Such circumstances pushed him towards embracing the agenda of well-being. He wanted to assist other people who were going through such circumstances, as could relate easily to their struggles.
Trowler admits that there is the presence of a mild culture of machismo in the domain of supply chain. It gives rise to an environment where people would become reluctant to open up about their issues and feelings. However, there is a strong sense of family, as people care about and support each other. Due to that, team members have been encouraged to open up if and when they are struggling. He expresses hope about being able to promote the agenda within his workplace.
Trowler stated that more was to be done to ensure that all his colleagues were taken care of in the supply chain. The previous few months has seen all managers have undergone a workshop for Mental Health Awareness, to learn how to observe the initial symptoms of distress. As the New Year approaches, there are intentions of training and appointing a first-aider for mental health throughout all the departments.
Additional details about the workshop on Mental Health Awareness can be found by contacting Nina.Jones@postoffice.co.uk.
Owen Woodley, Managing Director at Post Office Money was also spoken to. He highlighted a particular debate at the House of Commons, which had pointed out that males were almost three times likelier to face exclusions from school. The performance of boys was also worse than that of girls at every level. Woodley expressed hope that his efforts with the charity Drive Forward Foundation would create positive impacts on young men’s lives.
Woodley goes on to state that he has two children – a girl and a boy. On basis of that, he has noticed significant differences in attitudes regarding education. His son is a musician with ample creativity, while his daughter who is enrolled at Bristol and studying philosophy is quite creative. While his son was growing up, he found the usual limitations and structures of education and school to be quite harsh. His daughter on the other hand quickly grabbed available opportunities to become successful academically. According to him, parents learn that children have varied ways of approaching the world around them, as well as different motivating influences. The lesson that he learned based on the experience of his son at school, is that conventional educational approaches are not well suited for all children. This is the reality for numerous young students, and especially for young men. Support is vital for helping boys identify what engages them, in addition to their interests and how those can be translated into workplace success.
Woodley started his involvement with the Drive Forward Foundation (DFF) to utilise his vast experience in the business world to help communities. DFF works in a charitable manner to assist young individuals who are leaving care. It’s objective is to help these individuals gain full realisation of their potential, to gain employment that is continual. Woodley was moved following his observation of the hurdles faced by young people. He was also overwhelmed by the level of courage shown by such individuals in face of adversity. The DFF specifically assists young men to find inspirational male idols or role models, and fill the absence of such figures in their lives. It also assists young men to identify their core strengths and how those can be applied, often through methods like an apprenticeship.
Woodley has witnessed the positive impact having inspirational men as role models, can have on the lives of young men. He thinks that society at large should contribute towards encouraging males and fathers to take a more involved approach in the lives of their children. Men would also be accountable for giving air to practices and beliefs of deep-seated machismo. Post Office supports this goal by facilitating amenable work arrangements. However, Woodley clams that to become an undisputed leader in this aspect, the organisation has to take additional steps in the right direction.
Post Office colleagues have the opportunity of making a significant positive impact on lives of youngsters, through the Young Enterprise partnership. Individuals who are interested in volunteering can communicate through email at Emma.Brown@postoffice.co.uk.
Martyn Lewis, Head of Change Delivery, Post Office, also shared his viewpoints on being approached regarding the subject. According to him, flexible and buoyant workflows can have positive impacts on the business, and for colleagues who are looking forward to better work-life balance. There are increasing amounts of reports from employees that flexible and dynamic workflows positively influence productivity, engagement, and retention. Lewis talked about the perks of technology, which enables remote work possibilities. It gives him a better balance between duties of work and being a father to 3 young children. He explains that about 4 and a half hours is spent on work commute daily in London. Although that is not ideal, he gets to be close to extended family. That in itself is a great positive for caring for his children.
Martyn starts his day before his kids wake up and return usually after they are in bed. So, he does not see enough during a typical week. Hence, he is grateful for the option of working from home. That way, he can often give time to his children and take them to school, prepare evening tea for them, and spend some quality family time.
As the kids are growing up, Martyn can be more involved in their after-school activities. He works from home on alternate Fridays and can take his daughter for hockey during the evenings. It reduces his guilt for missing out on so many things during a typical week. This kind of flexibility is the only reason he is able to continue in his current role.
Martyn explains that not all organisations offer such flexibility; particularly the ability to work from home. His manager has given the thumbs up for this type of workflow. He often communicates with his manager over Skype, and also use conferencing facilities to connect with colleagues, anywhere and at any time. There is no need for everyone to be in London. Martyn remarks that he has observed more colleagues adopting flexible workflows since moving office. According to him, this phenomenon has to do with employees making observations about managers and leaders working in that manner. Having flexible work policies is not enough if there are no real examples of them in action. Martyn tries to lead his team to follow such policies.
For flexible workflows to click, Martyn has to plot his schedule in advance. He figures out which meetings can be dialed into, and makes sure to gather suitable details for a conference. Following that, he creates his schedule and informs people that he will not be in London on those days. He suggests that people in such situations buy into the same approach. Martyn remarks that this level of flexibility has helped him continue his satisfactory job, without reducing family time.
Tom Moran, Network Development Director, Post Office, spoke about his experience as a leader and a parent. He said that being a parent can be even tougher than being a good leader. He shed some light on how he handles both aspects, and how being a father has strengthened his skills of leadership.
Being an able leader comes down to having good knowledge of people. Becoming a parent has improved the understanding of Moran regarding his team. It has to do with conversations on a personal level that are not related to work. Such conversations offer valuable pointers for colleague relationships. As a practical example, colleagues who Moran was not much familiar with, now share experiences and viewpoints regarding children. One such experience was Moran telling his team that his jacket and trousers did not match, as his sick daughter had ruined it. Most parents have been in such situations, and they can be shared.
Moran remarks that he is stringent in time management at work, as his daughter’s nursery closes down at 6 pm. He has found out that having a tight deadline is ultimately beneficial rather than harmful. Moran utilises his final hour daily for focussing on crucial things that must get done. He keeps leaving at 5.30 pm, and that has not had any significant negative impact till date.
Moran explains that he has learned quite a valuable lesson since he became a father. He realised that work is indeed important, but not as much as we think. When he is at home, being a father has helped him get work off his mind. He remarks that there is no choice in the matter, with one and three-year-old children. He often works at home when the kids are asleep, as it is his responsibility to do so. However, he does not feel like having to choose between good job performance and family time.