In aviation, our job is to ensure safe and effective operations, every single day. To do that we rely on people to fly aircraft or operate complex machinery all while interacting lots of different people. Everyone in the system needs to be able to perform to their best to make sure everything happens safely and on time (as much as possible). In the same way we invest a lot of money and effort in ensuring that our aircraft and equipment can perform in difficult conditions, we need to do the same for our people.
This is why "Wellbeing" is so important. There has been a lot of talk about wellbeing during the pandemic. You probably have your own idea about what it is. The mental model in your head may or may not include yogurt and yoga but it's worth quickly talking about some common misconceptions.
While eating well and taking physical exercise can have a positive impact on wellbeing. At an organisational level, just thinking about this side of wellbeing is mostly window dressing to make people feel like they are doing something. The important thing is to have a positive impact on the physical, mental and social aspects of our lives that make up wellbeing. It takes an awful lot of yogurt and yoga to have any meaningful impact.
At the other end of the scale, another misconception about wellbeing is that it is the type of mental health first aid that come from health professionals or peer support programmes. Again, this is part of the puzzle, but one cannot rely only on health professionals and peer support programmes. Another view of wellbeing that is sometimes seen, particularly when it comes to mental health, is that this is a problem for weak people who need to “man, or woman, up”. Hopefully this attitude can be confined to the history books where it belongs.
So you are perhaps wondering what wellbeing is then? The World Health Organisation defines wellbeing as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Different people focus on different aspects of wellbeing. Some people focus a lot of mental wellbeing while others focus on the physical aspects. In reality there are various things that make up our overall wellbeing. The ‘BioPsychoSocial model of Health’ allows us to think of our health as a three-legged stool, where each of the legs represents one of the pillars: biological, psychological and social. The physical, mental and social aspects of our health are interdependent and a holistic approach is needed to ensure wellbeing. The definition we are using for the purpose of our work is this:
“A state in which the individual is able, through the self-awareness and self-management of the physical, psychological, social, and practical aspects of their life, to work positively and productively coping with the stresses they face while achieving their personal goals and contributing in a meaningful way.”
During our recent Wellbeing in Aviation Awareness Week we focused on 4 key parts to setting up an effective wellbeing programme. Follow the different links in each area and learn how to help your teams perform like the super-heroes they are:
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