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.
Maitland Chambers introduced an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to support members/staff and their immediate families. The service covers health issues, a counselling service and an advice line on consumer issues. They have also developed a Risk Assessment Template to support managing a wellbeing issue.
Chambers introduced a Staff Wellbeing Policy in 2012 when it launched its Staff Handbook. The EAP Programme, launched in 2015, was a natural extension to that policy.
What was the business (other case) for action?
Taking direct action on wellbeing was a positive step for chambers, a way of ensuring an effective and healthy – and therefore more productive – workforce, managing risk and of protecting chambers’ reputation.
The purpose of the well-being policy was, accordingly, both to anticipate and prevent wellbeing issues from arising in the first place and to provide a reference point for dealing appropriately and supportively with wellbeing issues if they do arise.
With direct experience of supporting a colleague with a wellbeing issue, chambers recognised that having extra resources (an EAP) to call on would be invaluable.
What did the Chambers do?
A Wellbeing Policy exists for members, pupils and staff, built on the additional resources that are available via an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
They introduced a Framework Risk Assessment template. It was clear to them that there was not a one-size-fits-all in relation to wellbeing and that a wellbeing policy could in practice only provide a reference on the actions that might need to be taken. Every case will have its own individual features, which it would be impossible fully to anticipate in one document, and each case will have particular ad hoc solutions which may need to be applied. However, to assist with this process, Chambers produced a Framework Risk Assessment Template, which should in future help Chambers to produce an individual risk assessment in the unfortunate event that a wellbeing issue arises. Its purpose is to help develop a flexible approach to risk in relation to the matter and prevent any negative effect from occurring, and minimising any harm that may be caused whilst also providing appropriate and targeted support to individuals with a wellbeing issue.
Chambers has also established a programme of training sessions, both in-house and external, on wellbeing issues. Dr Mitchell (of The Mitchell Practice), has provided both general training for members and staff on wellbeing and through one-to-one sessions has helped them to identify symptoms in people and on-going unusual behaviour that may be a sign that a person is finding it difficult to cope with their present circumstances.
Chambers has recently signed up to MIND, who will provide further and tailored on-going training to their members and staff and will carry out an annual audit of their wellbeing policy and procedures (including interviewing some of their members and staff), benchmarking and advising them on where they can improve.
MIND will be delivering ‘Managing Mental Health at Work’ training to all managers and supervisors this year. Following this they are planning to make Wellness Action Plans available for member and staff to complete if they wish.
Beyond the EAP and association with MIND, Chambers has also introduced a new CSR Policy, which encourages members and staff to participate in not-for-profit organisations which have a formal connection with Chambers. This new initiative allows everyone to get involved in new activities, whether directly or indirectly.
“Maitland’s success with wellbeing can be measured by their members’ and employees’ willingness to raise wellbeing concerns and their management team’s increasing confidence in supporting their members. Their experience with their Employee Assistance Programme – open to members and employees alike – should encourage others to take a similar approach. It is good to see Maitland recognise too the contribution other initiatives make to their members’ wellbeing, including chambers based social, sporting and charitable events.”
Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group
What were the results?
Whilst wellbeing was a driver for securing the policy, the scope of services on offer has meant that members have benefited in several ways and the EAP Scheme has proved popular.
Wellbeing is supported in Chambers and this support has helped to generate on-going interest in their policies and initiatives, and produced new ideas and proposals.
Members and staff are sharing with key people in Chambers (and/or the E&D Committee) concerns they may have about colleagues and this is a clear sign that their Wellbeing messages have been understood.
Maitland Chambers have also gained the impression that most of them feel more assured that any wellbeing concerns they may have will be dealt with sympathetically and in confidence and that they will not be thought of any less as a result.
• Find an EAP that covers services that extend beyond ‘pure’ Wellbeing (e.g. by helping with consumer issues) and extend it to include the immediate family of members and staff. It is more likely to be used and consequently, trusted if it does.
• Advertise the EAP widely in Chambers (Maitland have colour posters located in every corridor in Chambers, and everyone was given a pocket guide)
• Do not accept that your wellbeing policy will cover all real-life issues that may arise. It will not. The policy is a reference point, and each wellbeing issue is likely to have its own unique features, that will require a separate risk assessment.
• Ensure that not all wellbeing initiatives are delivered under the wellbeing banner e.g., develop a social, sporting and/or charitable calendar on its own merits, but ensure that together, they are as inclusive as possible.
• Get expert advice! There is lots out there now.
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.
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.
A simple expression that sums up wellbeing is ‘travelling well’
Psychological wellbeing within the profession is rarely spoken about