Nick Elston wows the AgentFest 2019 Audience

Calling out for help?

by Nick Elston

Nick Elston

I recently had the extreme pleasure of being the Keynote Speaker for AgentFest 2019 – hosted by the South West Contact Centre Forum.

This was a very poignant event for me to Speak at as over the past year or so I have been working more and more with organisations who have call centers.

The challenges that they face;

  • Increased absenteeism due to Mental Health.
  • Lethargy & low confidence stemming from a lack of general Wellbeing.
  • An expanding negative environment despite increased initiatives.
  • Lack of positive engagement in Personal & Business Development schemes.
  • A fluid workforce with a lack of consistency & performance.

These are huge challenges, admittedly. 

However, as those who work with me or have seen me Speak – I do things very differently as I believe my focus – and the focus that I ensure Forging People (my business) delivers – is all around using personal empowerment & breaking our conditioning.

Because even though I work in professional environments and workplaces – the focus must remain on the individual.

If you are happy and strong at home – you can be happy and strong at work – and vice versa.

But it’s also important to recognise there is a difference between Mental Illness and Mental Health – there is a huge difference.

With Mental Illness – it’s important to signpost people to professional/medical help as a matter of urgency – alongside professional services such as EAP (Employee Assistance Programmes), Mental Health First Aid Trainers & Counselling services.

But Mental Health – that’s the space where we can make BIG positive changes – and the vast majority of your challenges bullet pointed above – will come from this section – far fewer (thankfully) than Mental Illness.

By using my training, techniques and mentoring – I work to ensure that my clients have done everything that they can to provide a fantastic environment – whilst ensuring the individuals remain heard and understood.

You see – in life and business – essentially people just want to be heard and understood – in my experience, they then find their own way forward.  It’s when people aren’t heard that the problems really amplify.

So why are we so afraid of engaging people who are experiencing Mental Health & Mental Illness challenges?

Because we are Human!

We inherently feel the need to fix people – and we shouldn’t feel that.  

If someone comes to you – it’s not to be fixed – it’s to be heard.  Properly heard.  Actively heard.  Genuine connection.

If we don’t switch that mindset – especially with MHFA (Mental Health First Aiders) – we can create a bigger challenge again as we will take on the emotional and mental ‘baggage’ of the employee in our pursuit to help them.

All we need to do is actively signpost and create an environment that encourages your people to flourish.

I believe the shift in focus – taking it away from what Mental Health is – and focussing more on what it does – destigmatises the challenge and takes it more into the realms of Personal Development – encouraging and empowering people to be happier, more resilient, more confident & ultimately the most productive and successful employee, manager or leader.

The point I want to leave you with is this – that one time that someone decides to speak up – to share their experience or challenge – could be the only time they ever decide to open up.  So…

  1. Listen.  Properly listen.
  2. Signpost.  Don’t try to fix.
  3. Show compassion, show yourself.
  4. Reframe where possible – see the adversity as a catalyst for change.
  5. Give them hope.

It’s when people lose hope – even the hope of something better – that they lose everything.

Be the hope. Cheers, Nick.

Some images from AgentFest 2019