With mental health and wellness topping agendas, Osborne Clarke has launched a new Wellbeing at Work Strategy that aims to identify and tackle the work-related root causes of poor mental wellbeing.
“Workplace burnout is an issue facing businesses, and law firms, in particular, have been shown to be at much higher risk of poor wellbeing”, commented Jo Forbes, Osborne Clarke’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing Strategy Manager.
LawCare’s most recent Life in the Law Report finds the majority of respondents (69%) had experienced mental-ill health in the 12 months before the survey, with 37% of participants aged 26 to 35 years rating they had the highest burnout and work intensity alongside lowest autonomy and psychological safety. Even before the pandemic, The Law Society’s research found strains were being seen in the profession.
Having conducted in-depth research and analysis over a year, Osborne Clarke identified aspects of its business which support and improve its people’s wellbeing, such as fostering psychological safety through strong relationships with peers and managers, and those areas that can have a detrimental effect on both personal wellbeing and firm performance.
“Our research helped us understand the need for the firm to look inwards and focus on operational factors and ways of working to properly address poor workplace wellbeing,” said Jo.
Resetting to benefit all
“It also allowed us to identify areas of the firm with really positive wellbeing and learn from their success.”
“With our new strategy, we’re trying to peel back the layers of our business and take the time to change some aspects of the way we work so that we all benefit. It’s the first time we’ve taken a more forensic approach to wellbeing, effectively evaluating our progress and directing resources where they can have the most impact,” said Liz Lovell, Head of HR.
The firm’s Wellbeing at Work Strategy is aligned with the relatively new ISO45003 standard on psychological health and safety at work and the Health and Safety Executive Management Standards. It is centred around the key pillars of mental, physical, financial, social, and cultural wellbeing, which the firm feels will enable stronger employee performance and better client service.
“We will continue to improve our activities across all four areas of wellbeing. However, our action plan focuses mainly on operational changes and improved people management to support mental wellbeing,” said Bola Gibson, Head of Inclusion & Corporate Responsibility.
She added: “Through these changes, we’re aiming to support people to feel in control of their finances; encourage and create opportunities to have a healthy lifestyle; embed a culture where people feel valued and have a sense of belonging; and develop a working environment where good mental health is the foundation for strong performance.”
Positive wellbeing at work
Said Liz: “There are several factors that make up the full experience of working at Osborne Clarke, from mindsets and behaviours through to HR systems and rewards.
“We aim to be a firm where positive wellbeing is the foundation for strong performance. We want to ensure our people feel they belong, understand expectations, can be happy and healthy, and are able to achieve great things for their careers, our clients and our business.”
In addition to the overarching change strategy, the firm is also recognising Mental Health Awareness Week. Osborne Clarke has developed a theme for each day of the week aligning with mental health charity Mind’s five ways to wellbeing and alleviating anxiety.
It’s Pride and Mind and Body Networks will host a panel discussion on discrimination, mental health and the LGBTQ+ community with the CEO of London Friend, the oldest LGBTQ+ Charity in the UK, to talk about the mental health impacts of LGBTQ+ discrimination.