Wellbeing at Chiltern

1 in 6 people experience mental health problems in the workplace - that’s over 14%

Evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions

A study on meaningful work and mental health found that  “people perceiving their work as meaningful and satisfying reported less anxiety and stress.”

At Chiltern we are self-managed and employee owned. Over the past two years, we have worked hard to create a collaborative and caring operational system which is inclusive, regardless of personal circumstance.

What does it mean to be self-managed?

"A group of staff who are responsible and accountable for all or most aspects of producing a product or delivering a service." - Reinventing Organisations

People often think self-managing teams is about a flat-hierarchy, but really it’s about recognising people’s different strengths and providing an environment where people can take charge of the work they do, using advice from their peers, their professional judgement and life experiences to make informed decisions. After all, we are all adults, and therefore can expect an adult-to-adult relationship in our work. 

At Chiltern we work in circles rather than teams and everyone within those circles holds each other accountable. You can see our unique structure below:

Why do we work in this way?

“Self-management goes a long way toward helping us show up more fully. With no scarce promotions to fight for, no bosses to please, and no adversaries to elbow aside, much of the political poison is drained out of organizations. Without a boss looking over our shoulder, without employees to keep in line and peers that could turn into competitors, we can finally let our guard down and simply focus on the work we want to do.” - Reinventing Organisations

  • It gives staff autonomy to do what is important and so improves engagement, job satisfaction & wellbeing
  • Happy staff and a focus on continuous improvement delivers better quality services. 
  • Better quality services that deliver what's important produce better outcomes for people and communities
  • A focus on wholeness allows us to build an organisation and community where we create an environment where everyone can flourish
  • Less resources are used telling people what to do, checking they have done it and writing reports about this
  • Focus on purpose and sense and respond allows services to be agile and flex to meet the needs of the people and communities they are supporting. 
  • This way of working truly reflects the values of the organisation
  • It aligns with the therapy model that aims to increase independent capacity and improve quality of life. 
  • Avoids burnout!

How do we support the wellbeing of our team?

We have a number of spaces set up at Chiltern to support the wellbeing of our team, from pods, to learning communities and life support. 

All of these spaces provide support to a different area of our working life. For example:

  • Our team companions are on hand to speak to staff at any time, listening, guiding and signposting peers.  
  • Within our learning communities, staff can ask for and offer support and advice across specific areas of music therapy work and practice, from music technology, to children and young people, care homes and mental health.  
  • Every staff member is also part of a ‘pod’, which acts as a virtual newsroom/hub to connect, share and discuss the highlights of what’s happening across the organisation, enabling staff to access the information or support required to fulfil their work. 
  • Finally, an important part of our wellbeing support at Chiltern is the introduction of our peer-to-peer Nurture Space groups. Each group contains just 3 or 4 members of staff and it’s a space where you are encouraged to share your ‘whole self’ whilst discussing your work, offering peer-reflections, feedback and recommendations to support each person’s development.  It’s a space to really learn about your peers and a safe space to be truly vulnerable. Personal and professional development is seen as a 'living' part of the way in which we work, so very much an ongoing process woven into our daily practice as staff members with Chiltern. 

Music and Wellbeing: 

As an organisation whose primary function provides music therapy, it would be remiss of us not to talk about music and wellbeing. Music can help the brain recover, bypassing areas damaged by disease or injury to create new neural pathways elsewhere. Studies show that even just listening to familiar or meaningful music fires up so many parts of the brain, improves mood and reduces anxiety, and these effects are lasting ones.

When our mood is elevated, we are less likely to feel stressed, therefore we are more able to deal with any issues that arise in the course of a day at work or home. 

What would improve your well-being at work?
What spaces does your organisation currently offer?

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