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Published Date: 13-05-2024
Author: Ciaran Brass
Category: General
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In recognition of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we share some tips on how the team at Executive Compass achieve a positive work-life balance and stay active.

The world of public sector procurement can feel relentless, with inflexible deadlines, complex documentation and high-stakes, competitive bidding. We take a look at some of the ways we manage stress in the workplace, how adequate planning and preparation can support positive mental health, and how members of the team stay active outside work – aligning with the Mental Health Foundation’s annual theme.

Managing stress in the workplace

While pressure can be a positive motivator to drive individuals to achieve their best results, there is risk of this tipping into stress and, eventually, burnout. This can lead to reduced performance, increased absences due to sickness, and (most importantly) a detrimental effect on mental health and personal lives.

Drawing on 15 years of experience as an organisation, the experience of our bid and tender writing team has allowed us to develop strong, robust techniques for avoiding undue stress or burnout in the workplace.

To further strengthen approaches to fostering positive mental health training, four members of the team recently completed a two-day Mental Health First Aid training course, delivered by an MHFA England-accredited instructor.

Our in-house group of mental health first-aiders will allow colleagues to feel supported and benefit from:

  • An initial point of contact for anyone feeling overwhelmed, anxious or experiencing emotional distress
  • A confidential outlet to discuss, understand and process how they are feeling and the reasons behind it, addressing the root problem
  • Ensuring they feel heard and understood, using active listening skills and providing a judgment-free, impartial point of view
  • Signposting to appropriate services if necessary.

Our new mental health first-aider team also supports us in building trust, a core ethic of Executive Compass – ensuring all employees feel comfortable and confident discussing the importance of mental health.

Planning and preparation

As any of our bid and tender writers and reviewers will tell you, ensuring adequate time to planning and preparation of bid and tender submissions is crucial to a smooth, stress-free project. By setting realistic and achievable timeframes for each part of the submission, working to inflexible deadlines of government tenders and public sector bids becomes more achievable.

In accordance with our organisational best practices for project management, some examples of this include:

  • Answer planning in advance of client information-gathering calls by breaking down each question into constituent parts, aligning it with the specification and creating targeted, open-ended questions.
  • Taking note of all mandatory policies and appendices required for a compliant submission, in addition to ensuring the client knows which documents they will hold responsibility for completing.
  • Creating a project schedule of bid and tender quality responses and number of days for completion, avoiding a random or disorganised approach to tender writing.
  • Discussing particularly challenging questions with quality reviewers or senior bid writers before writing tender responses, avoiding lost time due to choosing the wrong approach or bid content.

By adhering to these project planning principles, our writing team are available to minimise a good proportion of the stress inherent to bid writing and managing a tender submission.

Staying active outside work

Lastly, in light of this year’s theme of ‘movement’ for Mental Health Awareness Week, it is important to recognise the role of exercise and activity in mental health. Studies from mental health charity Mind underscore the positive effects of regular exercise on mood, wellbeing and a positive work-life balance.

Members of our team engage in a wide variety of sports, including cricket, boxing, tennis, golf, five-a-side football, running and fell-walking. Keeping active and maintaining healthy exercise isn’t just about sports – spending time in nature has also been shown to have a positive effect on mental health.

Thanks to our office position in Newcastle, beach walks or the Northumberland countryside are never far away. Periodic coastal or nature rambles are sometimes organised, allowing members of the team to socialise and keep active outside the office. Our private healthcare scheme also includes perks for an active lifestyle, including free cinema tickets, discounted gym memberships and coffee, based on activity.

The Mental Health Foundation, Mind and the NHS have a number of information and resources on fostering and promoting positive mental health in the workplace, in addition to further resources to support mental wellbeing.

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