In 2020, mental health started to be taken more seriously and more focus was put on it. This was a necessary shift as the ONS (Office for National Statistics) found that 1 in 5 adults reported experiencing some form of depression during the spread of coronavirus.
With mental health being such a pervasive issue, it is being incorporated in every facet of how an organisation is run. How will you incorporate it into your CPD programmes? This article should help continue the conversation with learning and development professionals, about how awareness for mental health in CPD can be beneficial for all. We might also show you links
between mental health and learning and development that you have not considered before.
The Return to the Office
HSE’s health and safety at work report 2018/19 stated that some of the main causes of stress, depression and anxiety for workers were:
• Their workload
• Lack of support
• Changes at work
The above aspects were a problem even before the pandemic. There was no bigger change to working life, no bigger workload increase, and no bigger need for support, than when the pandemic happened. Therefore, as employees return to the office, they will expect – and need – much more support, including mental support. They will have been playing catch-up to make up for lost time last year; your CPD programme needs to ensure that it does not create even more work, and that it does teach employees how to manage their working life during this new normal.
Above, we mentioned increased workloads contributing to low mental wellness. This applies to CPD, as 23% of workers reported in one study that CPD negatively impacted their mental health. Why might this be?
Since the pandemic started, employees started to work for over 2 hours longer every day. They’re also very aware of this, and reported being expected to do more work. CPD can be perceived as yet another addition to their workload, which is already enough to lead to mental health problems.
Therefore, learning and development professionals in 2021 and beyond are ensuring that the learning programmes they organise are not perceived as just more work for employees to do. Burnout and exhaustion have become more acceptable to discuss, as working lives have altered so much, so you have to take this into account and not burn people out with the learning and development responsibilities and deadlines that you give them. Furthermore, CPD expectations and objectives are being managed more, as workers may feel more stressed if they do not progress in the same way that they are expected to.
Do you think this applies to your industry? Are your stakeholders affected by this exhaustion? Do you have concerns about correlations between CPD and mental health?
Is Your CPD Effective Enough? Check Again
Hopefully, the CPD programme you provide is already as effective as you can make it, but if there are any improvements that can possibly be made, now is the time to implement them.
This is because improved morale is one of the most important facets to employee development right now, and the more effective CPD is, the better the effect on wellbeing and morale. This has been proved in the context of CPD for teachers, but it can also be applied to other workforces.
For instance, Dodge et al (2012) described wellbeing as a seesaw, whereby stable wellbeing is when people have enough psychological, social and physical resources to meet their psychological, social and physical challenges. When people have more challenges than resources, this is when the seesaw, and their wellbeing, dips.
From this, we can tell that workers need resources, i.e. the knowledge and skills provided by CPD, in order to meet the challenges they have to face in the workplace. If they feel too challenged, and cannot meet these challenges, their mental wellbeing may deplete. This may be due to low self-esteem and not feeling valued, as their skills are lower than what their career requires.
Therefore, training professionals are having to take a closer look at their programmes, to make sure that the skills gained from them are relevant to real-life scenarios and challenges, especially those caused by COVID, to best-equip professionals.
One problem causing CPD to be ineffective in 2020 and 2021, is the inability to effectively learn online. This is not the fault of learners; working remotely has been difficult for everyone, from young students to adult learners. Therefore, if you’re uploading training videos or online conferences for your members, ensure that these are high quality resources that communicate
effectively the skills and knowledge that you are trying to teach.
So, what does effective CPD look like in 2021?
One way to ensure your CPD efforts are relevant, is to have (one-on-one if possible) conversations with your employees. These should help them, and you, discuss their desired career pathway, so you know whether you’re supporting them in their goals and helping them feel less overwhelmed in this. This might help you to both decide what CPD they might need.
Furthermore, planning and giving out dates for CPD sessions well in advance is a good way to not only ensure that there is enough time for all the material to be covered, but also allow your learners to organise their schedules. Rather than feeling pressured to make time for CPD, they will already know in advance what their CPD schedule will be and be able to stick to sessions without time conflicts.
Unable to schedule CPD sessions far in advance or at a time that everyone can attend? One method that we have found to reduce the burden of scheduling (for you and your learners) is to upload on-demand CPD videos for learners. This way, if learners are feeling burnt out or are simply too busy, they can access your CPD training whenever it is convenient for them to do so. This can take the weight off their shoulders and allow them to take their learning into their own hands, which learners have historically been grateful for but are now expecting, what with digital learning becoming a norm.
Are you a CPD professional that is considering mental health in your CPD strategy? Comment below about how you’re taking care of the mental health of your learners.