In March 2016, the team over at #wecops held a debate alongside Deputy Chief Constable Andy Rhodes on the subject of Wellbeing. The debate took place on Twitter, then Dan Reynolds gave a a full write up of the events afterwards.

Three key questions were posted on to Twitter by the Wecops team:

  1. Is it policing work or other issues that tip us over in terms of stress anxiety?
  2. If we agree great leaders prioritise wellbeing then what stops many from doing so?
  3. When we recruit people, how do we assess their readiness for policing at a personal resilience level?

What came back during the discussion, was a recognition that pressure or stress can exhibit in different ways to many people and so any support needed to be tailored for individuals. The organisational approach to a standardised way for dealing with wellbeing was picked up as inadequate and the issue of evidence based practice was firmly picked up on.

A talk of ‘lack of trust or confidence’ was evident in the discussions and also ‘legitimacy’. One of the solutions offered to this was for organisations to be brave enough to develop innovation and new thinking around ways of being better equipped for dealing with staff and current processes could be adding to the stress or anxiety felt by staff when attempting to open up a discussion around their own wellbeing.

Contributors to the discussion made it clear that they were looking for more commitment from organisations to be just and fair, while reforming the handling of wellbeing issues in the workplace. Staff felt strongly about the ability (or lack of) to speak up openly about wellbeing or express problems, leading to a bigger problem for them personally long term and also eventually creating an increasing issue for an organisation that could have been dealt with easier and more effectively much sooner.

The word resilience was discussed at length between participants and the ever present subject of trust within an organisation. References were made to Simon Sinek’s “culture of safety” and staff being able to reach their own true potential without more threats and battles within their own organisations. Resilience was seen as a personal skill to be developed and fostered rather than just something someone has and the role of supervisors or leadership was a key enabler of this.

Suprsingly for some, the causes of stress highlighted in the discussions did not come from major incidents or trauma, but from what is described as the ‘drip, drip, drip’ effect of low level stress building up over time. Some of these stresses included dysfunctional management practice, performance regimes and internal politics. This was described as a “time bomb” for sickness and low morale.

Change was recognised as a real threat to wellbeing and putting people out of their comfort zone as a key component of this. One of the concerns raised was the some people “just don’t get it” with regards to wellbeing and more needed to be done to educate and inform line managers and leadership within this area. One interesting observation raised was the need for more recognition that leaders within policing are also undergoing similar stresses to those on the front line and there should be consideration given to the support needed for them during a period of huge change.

The positive notes from the discussion take shape in the widely accepted view that the key to good wellbeing was supervisors and the role they play in contributing to the positive mental health, wellness and all round resilience of staff. There are many senior leaders who are interested and understand the importance of wellbeing. One positive note was also the new found ability staff had in their own confidence to speak out, which was having a good effect on wellbeing.

Read the whole discussion

What is #WeCops?

Many of you by now will have heard of @WeCops, if not, it is a Twitter account which Tweetchats every couple of weeks on a Wednesday at 9pm via #WeCops and everybody is welcome to join and add value.

The @WeCops account is run by several volunteers with a variety of experience from a range of roles and are completely independent from any policing or any other body.

Their aim is to provide a professional space to role model discussions between peers to support the exchange of best practice resulting in delivery of excellent policing.

For more information about #wecops, visit: http://police.wecommunities.org/about