Hello PPMA members and friends

The passing of Queen Elizabeth 11 continues to be an incredibly sad and difficult time for many people. As a country we are in a period of mourning for our Monarch and this presents some challenging questions around how, as HR teams working in the public sector, we should deal with the practical issues facing us and our workforces.

In case you need some helpful pointers, we asked some of our board members to share their advice and/or their own organisational polices on handling this unfamiliar and delicate situation:-

Steve Davies – Head of London Regional Employers’ Organisation, London Councils

Employee emotions and philosophical beliefs:

  • The period around the monarch’s death will be a time of heightened emotion for many employees, some of whom have been surprised by the impact it has had on them, and it’s crucial for employers to recognise that this could be a difficult time for some.
  • Be prepared for heightened emotions and reduced concentration at work.
  • But it’s also important to note that not every employee is a fan of the royal family.  All staff should be reminded about acceptable standards of workplace behaviour and to respect other people’s opinions and views, especially during a period of national mourning and heightened emotion.  Creating a culture of inclusion and diversity means ensuring employees respect the differing opinions of their colleagues and interact with each other accordingly.

Clive Mallon – Service Manager, Organisational Development, Somerset County Council

  • It probably sounds all too simple but ‘no one size fits all’; no matter how well planned or thought through your support, everyone is individual and deals with things, such as grief/mourning, in different ways – in some instances very different ways. It’s a necessity to be supportive of the different reactions to these types of events. That can sometimes be challenging to the HR community as we are more used to rigid policies/processes.

Tracy Brennand – Assistant Director of HR/OD, Tameside Council

My advice for public sector workers would be

  • don’t underestimate the responsibility we have as public officers in maintaining public services, along with providing responsible leadership at times of significant national events
  • continue to be flexible and support our colleagues who may experience the impact of the event in many different ways and very unexpectedly
  • work together and support each other

Claudia McLellan – Wellbeing Consultant, Essex County Council

  • Self-care for our profession and support within the PPMA network and peer community is incredibly important. As is recognising the impact of the last few years on the profession where we have supported our organisations to adapt at pace, through covid, furlough and most recently the cost of living crisis. The unfolding events and outpouring of public grief and media coverage can be triggering for some for the losses and changes in our own families over the years, with some sources of distraction such as radio, tv making this more intense.
  • Encourage colleagues to reflect and recognise the impact for them personally and access the support they promote to others in their organisations, but remember to put on your own oxygen mask first.

Gordon McFarlane – PPMA  President and Assistant Director, Corporate Services, Leicestershire County Council.

  • It’s important for HR to ensure that our organisations don’t just focus on the outward facing civic arrangements, but that the potential emotional impact on staff is understood, acknowledged and that support is made available. A flexible approach is also key.

Kelly Handyside – Health & Wellbeing Lead Co-ordinator, Northumberland County Council

We hope that you find these tips helpful and of course there are a number of regional and national helplines who you can turn to for support and guidance including: MIND, Cruse National Bereavement Service , Action for happiness and CIPD. You may also have your own chaplaincy offer for spiritual health too.

Our thoughts are with you all.