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Coram Chambers

This case study may be useful if you are looking for examples of developing a wellbeing policy, increasing awareness of wellbeing, developing resilience training schemes and/or promoting wellbeing initiatives.

What was the business (other case) for action?

Coram perceived there to be a moral case for action before considering any business case. Coram was founded on the principles of equality, diversity, and the balance of family and working life so it was a natural step to crystallise some of that into a tangible policy.
The new wellbeing policy helps reiterate and develop Coram’s key principles for existing, new and future members and acts to preserve the necessary balance between a focus on quality work and a focus on those other aspects of life that make such quality work possible.

Coram believe a successful chambers is one that enables each of its members to have, as far as possible, the practice they want, and staff to have the most positive and productive experience at work as possible.

 

Work, and one’s working environment, can and should contribute positively to one’s life. That members and staff are happier, and therefore more productive, is a pleasing consequence of placing appropriate focus on what is really important – the people in their organisation.

In more ‘business case’ terms, Coram identified the following:
• The large body of evidence that shows increased wellbeing leads to increased performance.
• The cost of improving wellbeing being orders of magnitude lower than the cost of missed working time due to sickness caused by stress and poor mental health.
• The responsibility of being a leading chambers and the importance of showing externally the principles by which they operate internally, so others may feel empowered to take similar steps.

 

 

What did the Chambers do?

Coram developed and implemented a wellbeing policy that includes specific areas of action, including:

  • The appointment of two heads of wellbeing, and four wellbeing liaisons, for our members, as well two staff liaisons for our staff.
  • Arranging training for the above post-holders as well as key senior staff.

 

  • Identification of physical health initiatives
  • Development of a programme of awareness and signposting, for example a significant promotional campaign about the Bar Council’s Assistance Programme
  • A commitment to crystallise Coram’s pre-existing mentoring scheme into a formally linked scheme.
  • The ongoing development of a linked anti-bullying policy

It is great to see the enthusiastic response from members of Coram Chambers to their new wellbeing policy. Coram has laid solid foundations for future work and we delighted to see an initial focus on the basics – policy, training wellbeing officers, promotion of the Assistance programme available to all barristers and staff and a recognition that other work in bullying, mentoring etc. all play a role in any wellbeing strategy and approach. We are particularly pleased to see their willingness to share their approach and to look to others for advice highlighted in their ‘tips’ – this reflect the bar-wide ethos towards work on this agenda

Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group

What were the results?

The wellbeing policy/formalise approach has been recently launched and at this early stage it is difficult to talk about measurable results. However some notable matters already apparent include:

  • There being many more volunteers for the 8 wellbeing posts than there were positions available, showing the tangible enthusiasm at Coram for the project;
  • The fact that staff and members have already started actively making suggestions about other relevant initiatives, one of which has already been implemented; and
  • Others outside the organisation have already asked to see a copy of their policy as a possible template for the development of their own.

Tips

Dos

  1. Involve a diverse range of people in the consultation and development of a wellbeing policy
  2. Identify and amalgamate third-party resources (WATB website being a prominent one), and then customise it to your organisation’s specific characteristics
  3. Retain an explicit degree of flexibility about the process and the intended outcome so that the project can evolve as further and better ideas and input are generated

Don’ts

  1. Don’t set the initial bar too high – a realistic early goal (e.g. a first draft of the core policy objectives) is both manageable and something that will naturally assist the development of the project into something more substantial
  2. Don’t be concerned about asking perceived competitors for help – this is not an area where people are cagey about sharing what they are doing, indeed quite the opposite is the case. We are fellow professionals and it is important that we support each other as one community
  3. Don’t underestimate how impactful even seemingly small changes can be. For example, a small gesture such as organising a regular weekly in-house lunch gathering can do a lot to improve cohesion and morale.

The information and resource packs on this website are designed to help you and your colleagues to work as a community for better wellbeing and professional resilience. If you want to provide feedback on these resources, or to get involved in promoting wellbeing please get in touch.


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It can be difficult to make a living from law and it can be pressurised and demanding. Competition and an adversarial approach to everything can make collegiate relationships difficult. This website aims to provide you with the knowledge to manage these stressors, make emotionally informed, wise professional decisions and thrive in your chosen profession.

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