United Response

Our work with a charity committed to making life better for people with disabilities

The Head of Health and Safety at United Response approached the company’s insurer because of a seemingly intractable problem with workplace stress and high staff turnover.  Despite having stress risk assessments for work activities and individuals in place, together with the provision of an Employee Assistance Programme, and having tried all the recommended HSE initiatives, there still appeared to be serious underlying issues, particularly around sickness absence and retention.

On recommendation, the United Response’s insurer contacted Jo to see if she could help.

United Response | Petros | mental health training and support

Jo provided evidence-based resilience training, The Challenge of Change, to 45 United Response managers over a six-week period. Beforehand managers were assessed for habits associated either with resilience or an increased risk of responding stressfully. Jo’s findings suggested that employees had a high level of engagement and job satisfaction but needed resilience skills to be able to respond adaptively to high levels of pressure.

The training focussed on what stress is and the link between stress and poor health; how individuals can combat stress at work and home, feel empowered to be more productive, competent and confident in the work place. In practical terms the training uses a unique and simple four-step strategy for enhancing personal resilience, including:

  • A route to enhanced wellbeing and better performance
  • Strategies to develop detached compassion
  • An understanding of personal strengths and vulnerabilities
  • Improved communication skills
  • Strategies for relaxing both mind and body

Six months after the training, managers’ habits were re-assessed and it was found that there was a statistically significant reduction in three habits associated with increased stress: ruminating, perfectionism and emotional inhibition, plus a statistically significant improvement in detached compassion – a habit that supports a more resilient approach.

By 2011, the practical results, in regions where managers had attended the training, was a 16% – 43% reduction in staff sickness absence rates and nearly 5% improvement in staff stability, against organisational improvements of just 0.25%. United Response were delighted with the change in organisational resilience and work culture as a result of the training.

Currently, Jo and the Petros team work with a wide range of public and private sector businesses and are a preferred partner for Aviva and QBE insurers, supporting their clients to address mental health issues to improve workplace resilience and reduce short and long-term harm.

Here’s what the team at United Response had to say: 

“The Challenge of Change™ resilience training that Jo delivered was unique, ground-breaking and life changing, not just for those who received it, but also for the teams they managed.  While stress is considered contagious, we discovered resilience is even more so. It led to increased engagement in our managers, which in turn had a direct and lasting impact on individual staff.

“The training provided a completely different approach, emphasising the potential for stress-free living and empowering people to respond adaptively to work and life pressures.  It introduced principles that helped staff develop the skills to make choices, keep perspective and not get lost in the misery of rumination, not just at work, but at home.  We all became fluent in a new and simple language that brought the principles alive and embedded them in our culture.

“This resulted in managers and their staff being able to safely and confidently renegotiate workloads and working patterns, navigate conflict and make the right choices to ensure full engagement in the workplace.

“Consequently, there was a substantial decline in sickness rates and much improved workforce stability – indescribably important in social care.  A fantastic result and way beyond our expectations.  We still, ten years later, remind each other to ‘Get in the Loft’ and ‘Drop the peanut’!

Shonagh Methven, Head of Health and Safety, United Response