A manufacturing business with a workforce of nearly 1,200 people and a charity which supports more than 9,000 children gained new impetus for their wellbeing programmes after a leading law firm presented first-hand experiences of personal struggles with mental health.
Rollits LLP also welcomed organisations from a wide range of other sectors including tourism, food production, technology and professional services to their Employment Workshop – Boosting Resilience in your Teams event which was one of the highlights of Humber Business Week.
Pat Coyle, Director of Marketing and Client Relations at Rollits, said: “We’ve been big supporters of Humber Business Week since it started 17 years ago. We always try to come up with a relevant theme, and this year’s subject picked itself!
“We brought in expertise from our own team and externally to look at redefining resilience, both personally and within the workplace, plus protecting people and organisations from the legal pitfalls arising from the Equality Act, with a special focus on the impact of neurodiversity in the workplace.
“As it was an open event we were particularly pleased that so many people made an effort to attend during a week packed with other brilliant events, and we’re delighted with the feedback which indicated that our event made a difference.”
Headline guest speaker Josh Connolly, one of the UK’s most influential mental health advocates, told of his journey from planning suicide to seeking help with his problems and supporting people when they are feeling pain.
Josh also revealed he was “in awe” of Ed Jenneson, a Partner with law firm Rollits who heads the Employment team who presented at the event and who spoke for the first time in public about what he has achieved in his career whilst reflecting on his own experience of living with Adult ADHD and a dyslexia profile.
Ed, who is a recognised leader in the field of employment law said Rollits decided to bring Josh to the event at the MKM Stadium after witnessing the impact he made at the firm’s annual conference earlier this year.
Ed, said: “I spoke about equality and the requirement to consider making adjustments to procedures and sanctions because many of our general queries around misconduct and performance now have an element of disability. People start to open up in those procedures and might not have told their employers before that they are struggling with health issues.
“I also spoke about my diagnosis of Adult ADHD and a strong dyslexia profile and the adjustments that have been put in place for me during my career over the last 20 years. My own experience gives me a unique insight into issues arising from hidden disabilities and neuro-diversity whilst also being an expert on the Equality Act.”
Josh added: “Stigma is driven by silence, because when nobody is talking about it people begin to effectively lie and it becomes a big cover-up. What I am finding is that when you open up, the lie breaks for everybody.
“You find that people come to you and ask how you did it. One thing that has is that employers used to want to see a return on their investment, whereas now they see the support as their responsibility. The Generation Z people are more inclined to work with people who are ethically right. They want to know how employers are treating other people.”
Sue Allan, Group Finance Director at Willerby Limited, said: “We have nearly 1,200 people and it’s really important to do everything we can to make sure they are in a supportive environment.
“Everybody deals with stresses and strains in their lives in a different way but they also have different superpowers and inner strengths that they can draw upon. This event was about appreciating that vast array of how different people will react to the same situation and how we can all help each other.
“We will definitely reinforce some of the things we already do because people are such a crucial part of what we do and we are always trying to find new ways to support them.”
Natasha Barley, CEO of Hull and East Yorkshire Children’s University, said: “It’s amazing watching Josh – he’s incredible, inspirational, honest about what he’s been through and how that’s resulted in who he is.
“Our charity has two programmes. The main one takes over 9,000 children a year from disadvantaged backgrounds on educational experiences that raise their aspirations. We also have a children in care programme that supports children from the age of seven to when they leave care at 25 by providing them with art therapy, educational experiences, and a one to one reading scheme
“It’s endearing and inspiring because he’s talked about working with people from a very young age to help them make sense of their negative childhood experiences. It helps children become more confident and more resilient.
“A lot of our work focuses around careers, different jobs they want to do and how young people can get those jobs. It’s about understanding all the options. I really hope that we can bring Josh in to do some training with our team and work with some of our students. It will be inspirational for some of our children in care who have had the worst start in life.”