By Sue Swan, Learning and Development Manager at Pembrokeshire County Council.

At Pembrokeshire County Council, as with most local authorities, difficult financial settlements have left the authority with significant savings to find.  In this challenging financial climate the authority has achieved savings by modernising approaches and improving efficiency.   The rate and pace of change coupled with a requirement to develop a more agile, flexible and ambidextrous workforce inevitably creates a climate of uncertainty for employees.

Employees are our most important asset and taking care them by investing their wellbeing is crucial so we’re genuinely trying to help them to manage these difficult issues, increase their resilience and help them to deal better with stress.    One of the ways we’re doing this is with mindfulness training.  Following successful workshops with Simon Michaels that helped our learning and development advisers appreciate to power of these simple yet powerful techniques we now have a dedicated officer to train staff .  We’re also looking at using Simon’s online training modules, as cost effective way to make mindfulness more accessible to staff and help our training budgets to go further.

For myself, mindfulness has been invaluable.  As a manager, it’s important that I learn to cope well with change and uncertainty because the quality of my attention and awareness has a direct impact on the people that I manage.  I’m still learning how to handle this challenging climate better and even though the stresses are still there,  moment-by-moment awareness is helping me to achieve a calm and responsive frame of mind at work and increased job satisfaction.  It’s much more than that; I’m also feeling that I’m living my life more fully – really noticing all the positive things around me that I normally pass by.  And another unexpected outcome is that I’m driving more slowly! It’s as if I’m happier being where I am, rather than feeling that I need to rush off to somewhere else!