Staff wellbeing in the Charity Sector
For many reasons the last year has been unique, and the impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing has been considerable. This is especially so for those working in the charity sector, where the focus will often be on trying to help others that are reliant on the charity for the help and support they need. This can often lead to very stressful situations, to the detriment of the charity worker’s own mental and physical wellbeing.
It is not just frontline staff that can be affected by mental health issues. The Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIF) has also reported that the current situation has presented numerous issues that can impact those working in other areas. The need to meet financial targets, and difficult conversations with supporters, are amongst the issues having an impact, in addition to what’s happening in the private lives of employees of course. The CIF have produced a range of tips for managers, fundraisers and organisations to consider to help address the issues being faced, many of which will be equally applicable to other areas of a charity’s activities.
At a time when charity finances are being stretched it might be felt that the cost of implementing wellbeing programmes is one that cannot be afforded at present. This is not necessarily so. The charity Mind curates the Mental Health at Work website, where it includes a toolkit specifically designed for supporting staff mental health in the voluntary sector, which provides a range of free resources that can help charities develop their own programme of support.
For many years now it has been acknowledged that employers have an obligation towards their employees and volunteers to provide a safe working environment, but the focus has usually been on minimising the risk of physical injury. One of the positive aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be increasing recognition and acceptance that employers’ responsibilities extend beyond that, and that supporting the mental health of employees and volunteers is equally of importance.
Indeed, having an effective wellbeing programme is often now being seen as a prerequisite for many when seeking employment, so for charities looking to recruit and retain the best employees this may be an area they need to develop.