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Case Study| Switzerland
IATA (International Air Transport Association) R U OK? Program
It fulfilled the objective of helping us be good mental health ambassadors. But it created the most cohesive, supportive team in a time of real turmoil for the world.
~ Jane Hoskisson, Director Talent, Learning, Engagement & Diversity International Air Transport Association

How we worked with IATA

Jane Hoskisson is the Director Talent, Learning, Engagement & Diversity at IATA – an international organisation with teams in 37 countries globally. They wanted robust training for their RUOK Ambassadors to enable them to be able to truly support their colleagues mental health and wellbeing through a tumultuous time. Together, we designed a customised series of MasterClasses, eLearning and resources which the participants continue to use today.

I’m Jane Hoskinson. I’m the Director of Talent, Learning, Engagement and Diversity at IATA, we are the International Air Transport Association. We represent nearly 300 airlines from around the world. I have a mental health group called the RUOK Group and it’s staffed with volunteers who are interested in supporting people’s mental health throughout the organisation.

We bought a program with Blooming Minds that took about six months at the end of last year, and at the beginning of 2022. And we worked together on a Monday, and we brought all of our mental health ambassadors together and we worked through with Blooming Minds and facilitated by Tasha.

With Blooming Minds we built a program that was really hybrid, so of course it was delivered virtually. And Tash and the team delivered to us around the world. But they also built live sessions and complemented it with an eLearning Program, which we could dip into and out of and that was paced throughout the period of the course.

But of course, the brilliant thing is the materials have been available to us a little bit after the course as well. I know that people have been going and using them because they’re extremely helpful resources for us.

Your RUOK Program is staffed with volunteers from across the organisation, and we talked about the need to be more structured in the way in which we talked with our employees about mental health, but we didn’t actually have a program and one of the teams said that they’d come across the work with Blooming Minds.

And so we pursued it and we had a conversation. Seemed to really kind of hit everything we were looking for in terms of giving us kind of flexibility to co-design something with Tasha and the team, to build something that we needed for our RUOK volunteers.

Look, this is fantastic. I actually have to say we have built a lot of learning programs with lots of different partners, but there was something really unique about the way we worked with Blooming Minds. I think it was a fantastic co-creation, rather than just Tasha or the team saying ‘this is what we’ve got’ and then, ‘this is how we’re going to apply it’. We actually talked about what the needs were, because we were quite a unique group. None of us are actually formally in an HR role, lots of volunteers in the role. So, we had to do something that was quite time bound. So, we only had an hour and we needed to make that hour, every week over a period of time, as impactful as possible. It wasn’t like we could run a course where people were immersed, and they had a lot of time to give. We were doing this on the kind of sides of people’s jobs, and I think that’s what made it so brilliant. Tasha was fantastic at really understanding that and understanding the needs of the audience that she was presenting to.

And I think the thing on the design was, the design didn’t stop on the day that we delivered the first course. Actually, the flexibility that Tasha showed in saying, I want to adjust a few things here because this is what I’m hearing. Actually, the design continued until after the last course when Tasha then continued to share some materials with us that she thought were relevant.

So, it was really an ongoing, iterative process.

We could not have known when we launched the training what would happen in the world. We had already gone through Covid, and we had no idea that what was to come was a war in Ukraine. And whilst we are a global organisation, what was really, really telling was we actually had two colleagues, one from Russia and one from Ukraine, and I’ve never known such solidarity, and I think a lot of that was through the safe environment that Tasha facilitated for us. So, it was designed to do one thing and it ended up doing two things. It fulfilled the objective of helping us be good mental health ambassadors. But it created the most cohesive, supportive team in a time of real turmoil for the world.

And then I think the other thing that we also had is one of our colleagues was going through a very personal journey and it created an environment where we supported him as well. So, it was absolutely fantastic. It had those three kind of objectives that really helped us bond together and understand, because it was a lived experience, it wasn’t a theoretical experience, and Tasha really facilitated us through that process.

There’s always two parts. There’s the theoretical, fantastic and some of the models that we talk about, I still hear people talking about them. We’ll refer back in our conversations and we’ll say, but do you remember that model when we were looking at these different elements? Theoreticals, always brilliant and it was what I liked about the way Tasha presented, it is she didn’t overload sessions with loads of theoretical models.

We had one or two and we worked through them. But actually, the thing that really sticks with me is the quality of the conversations that were facilitated. So really melding the theory and the practical application is what took us as practitioners to a completely different level. I think it equipped us with tools that we actually have been able to use when we’ve engaged with conversations with our employees around their mental health.

And you know what’s fantastic for me? I hear stories of our mental health ambassadors being approached by people and putting into place the tools that they learn through that to really engage in a conversation, that will help people get to where they need to be. Now, of course, Tasha was great at letting us understand that we are not superheroes.

We can’t fix everything because we’re not trained to do that. But we are trained to catch people now in a far more robust and structured way, in a really compassionate way.

I would 100% support you in working with Blooming Minds. They are amongst our favourite suppliers. I mean, the work we did with Tasha has been incredible and I think that we’ve really missed the program. So, we had a very intensive period and when that stopped, we all kind of looked around and said, oh, we really, really appreciated that support.

Now, I think obviously the organisations that are inclined to work with Tasha are ones that put mental health right at the heart of what they’re doing. And they understand that that’s super important for diversity and inclusion initiatives. They understand it’s really important for employee engagement initiatives.

They understand that it’s really important for all the important business things that we do; because we cannot have organisations where they feel out of kilter. And I think Tasha really helps calibrate the team. But I think that the organisations that really should work with Blooming Minds are the ones that haven’t yet prioritised mental health because it will provide you with a mechanism to kind of fast track the importance without it being so overwhelming because it can be really, really overwhelming when you start to think about implementing mental health initiatives.

And what I really appreciated with Tasha is she paced it to suit our business and the needs that we have. And so, if you are an organisation that hasn’t yet started working on mental health, I thoroughly encourage you to talk with Tasha and really lay out what your concerns are, and I guarantee that you’ll end up with a solution that is really fit for your business.

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