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Going Beyond Blog of Learning Opportunities

This blog is a place to share the learning opportunities through Going Beyond, our Communities of Practice education programme.  You can request to join a Community of Practice here:

 Displaying posts 1 - 5 of 5

  • Understanding VUCA

    Author: Luke ChesterPosted: 19 May 2021

    Understanding VUCA - As we emerge from a global pandemic, we are left with a whole set of ‘unknowns’ that will permanently affect the social, political, economic, and technologically landscape. The ‘new normal’ will be the way we operate now, but what is it? Does anyone know? Has anyone got a plan for it?

    If you are feeling a tad overwhelmed by it all, take stock in the fact that it’s nothing new... it’s something we’ve been dealing with for at least the last 50-60yrs. It’s just that it’s speeding up – this ‘new normal’ is called VUCA.

    The US military first coined the term at the end of the cold war to describe the lack of clarity they were facing - Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. This is something we recognise only too well in the transport and travel sector.

    The series we are running on VUCA isn’t designed to eliminate VUCA because you can’t, and it’s here to stay. Still, the workshops and facilitated discussion groups will help increase your understanding and awareness of the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity that you are facing and help you think about strategies and approaches to help you cope and navigate them.

    Come and join us and become part of a proactive group, and together we will start to understand what we can do and create a vision for navigating our way through it.

    Luke Chester

    TSSA Organising Director

    Strategic Organising & Campaigns Team


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  • Why Inclusive Rail is an important campaign for all TSSA members

    Author: Nadine RaePosted: 04 August 2020

    As I said in my recent newsletter, it has now been two years since we launched our campaign at Westminster, releasing our Role Model Posters and our LGBT+ Inclusive Workplaces Bargaining Standard. Inclusive Rail has fast become one of the most important campaigns TSSA has run in the 21st century. We have achieved many things over these past two years, and all TSSA members can and should be proud to promote this campaign for inclusion in their workplace. Our aim is to make the railway inclusive for LGBT+ people by 2025. An ambitious aim, but one that will impact all members of TSSA should we achieve it. In this blog post, I will outline three main reasons why all members of TSSA should support, promote and get involved in Inclusive Rail. At the very least this is because the support and interest we get from members regarding this campaign has outweighed any other campaign of recent times. Click ‘Read More’ to find out more… 


    1) We can learn from our Inclusive Rail success  

    Our Time to Grow Strategy action point 12 is ‘Learn from Ourselves and Others’ and this is exactly the case with our successes from Inclusive Rail. All the things we have done for Inclusive Rail can be done for other campaigns and help other groups of workers. Everything can be applied in other work from the campaign activities to the materials we have developed and the monthly communication we have established with all members.  


    We have engaged over 5000 people in our campaign activities to date through a variety of ways. People have joined TSSA, completed #NoBystanders cards, become active in our LGBT+ Network, participated in our 5-year placard challenge to share what you think will make the railway inclusive by 2025, attended network and forum events and visited our workplace stalls and education sessions. That means almost all those 5000 contacts have actually been 5000 conversations, where we have been able to build visibility of TSSA, share our values, and the reasons why people should join and get involved in TSSA. As a result, we have built our LGBT+ Network from 5 people to 50+ members. The response we have had on the materials such as our powerful Role Model posters has led to opportunities for our members to share our campaign and aspirations with others, at conferences such as Network Rail’s Archway conference, Stonewall’s prestigious Annual Workplace Conference and globally, with international trade union federations. 


    More directly, reps are seeing the value of applying this learning to their own projects. Gurprit Bhakar, TSSA BAME Network member attended our Equality in the Workplace seminar in 2019 and heard about our invitation for members to become LGBT+ allies: ‘We can encourage people to be allies for BAME workers too’.  


    2) Respected colleagues and workplace leaders are joining TSSA  

     Shane Andrews, Chair of Archway, has been a TSSA member for many years and has volunteered to be a new Role Model on our poster series. He has volunteered to be a part of our poster campaign because it enables him to be a visible face of LGBT+ leadership and to empower people at work. Other members have joined because they are taking leadership roles in the workplace and see the work we have done with Inclusive Rail as supporting their vision. Our union is leading on equality, and those who are active on equality issues in their workplace see the value in being a part of TSSA. Our ’10 Reasons to Join and Support Equality’ video highlights some of the reasons why people should join and get involved.


    3) We are setting the standard in the industry  

    We launched our very first Equality Bargaining Standard as part of the Inclusive Rail campaign in 2018. Over the past two years, we have gained commitments from companies to work towards our bronze, silver and gold standards for LGBT+ Inclusive Workplaces. Now two years on, we are beginning our first audits against our very own standard. In conjunction with Stonewall, we are helping companies on their journey of inclusion and leading the industry through our Inclusive Rail Industry Forum and our new LGBT+ Inclusive Workplaces Community of Practice. Everything we are doing in our Community of Practice will guide companies to achieve our gold standard, whilst also enabling our members to show leadership in their workplaces on LGBT+ issues. This model of working, including the use of Bargaining Standards, is being replicated in other areas of equality (see our Neurodiversity at Work Equality Bargaining Standard) and has the potential to support our industrial bargaining also. Inclusive Rail has proven that our members engaging with companies over standards is a successful strategy for our whole union. 


    And finally, there is a change within TSSA to become a more welcoming, inclusive organisation that doesn’t just talk about our values - we live them. This is demonstrated throughout the Inclusive Rail campaign and gives TSSA a level of credibility within the rail industry and throughout the UK and Ireland that it has never had before. We are proving month to month that we are not shying away from addressing hard issues and campaigning to change people’s lives. That is exactly what Inclusive Rail is trying to do and it is working. Through campaigns like Inclusive Rail, we will build a bigger, stronger and more inclusive, TSSA. 

    EQ Agenda cover

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  • What is a TSSA Divisional Council?

    Author: Steven RobertsPosted: 31 July 2020

    Divisional Councils have the traditional role of branch governance, ensuring that the member branches operate in accordance with TSSA rules and supporting any branches that may find themselves in difficulty. Divisional Council also act as a forum where branches can get together with other branches in their Divisional Council area to exchange information, experience and best practice and to create networks of communications. For this reason, my own Divisional Council moves their meeting to different venues in their area and allows members of the local branch to attend as observers. This helps in building TSSA activity in areas where it might be less visible and active. Keep reading to find out more about Divisional Councils...

    Divisional Councils are organised on an area basis and group together all the branches within that area. Each branch elects a number of delegates to their Divisional Council based on the number of members in their branch. The delegates are elected on an annual basis. Each Divisional Council area has a member of the TSSA Executive Committee, elected by the members of each branch in that Divisional Council area.

    As an example of how a Divisional Council can make a difference, the North West Divisional Council supported the efforts of a small number of Liverpool members in re-establishing a Merseyside branch, and, before the Covid19 lockdown, it was assisting the Crewe & Cheshire General branch in surveying its members in an attempt to increase member participation.

    NW Division Council 2

    Although we do have a certain amount of ‘business’ to conduct, at least half of our meetings are given over to a guest speaker. Recently Graham Stringer MP talked to us regarding ‘Public Transport in the North West’; Laura Smith MP talked about ‘My First Six Months in Parliament’ and Manuel Cortes addressed the question of ‘Where Now’ following Labour’s 2019 election defeat.

    Divisional Councils are also perhaps best placed to form links with various Regional Organisations such as the Regional Trades Union Councils, and the growing Regional levels of Government.

    Steven Roberts
    Secretary Crewe & Cheshire General Branch &
    Communication Officer North West Divisional Council


    Follow TSSA North West Divisional Council on Facebook:

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  • Producing Results – what can you expect to see experience

    Author: Andrew HollingsworthPosted: 20 July 2020

    Building on from our introductory video, this blog is written to give you a bit more detail about what you can expect for the first 4 sessions. Click Read More to expand

    Here are a set of areas that we will explore over the series: -

    ·       Review how workplace cultures effect the production of results and people development.

    ·       Exploration of how leadership and management styles get results and how those styles affect people and whether they’re appropriate

    ·       Understand how our perception shapes our reality’ and the effects it has on our interactions

    ·       Discuss how the management of performance impacts results

    ·       Analyse how using an emotionally intelligent, inclusive leadership approach enables us to deliver sustainable results


    Later this week we will be releasing 2 videos from guest speakers that have had experience working in environments that are very much about producing results; a former head Chef who has working in a range of challenging and demanding environments and a former performance coach in the world of football who has worked with Premier League players. Both of them will give you a brief insight into what their world’s were like and then later in the month, you will get the opportunity to join them live to ask them questions and explore how results were produced and the impact that had on them, the teams and the environment around them.

    Following on from this, we will explore and discuss a range of different leadership and management approaches to understand the impact that they have on producing results on the individual, team and culture, for example: - the challenge of getting the task done, whilst developing the individual and getting the best from them as well as building a high performing team – no mean feat!!

    We will also look at some of the research from the Harvard Business Review and see how the area of performance review and appraisal systems has been undergoing, somewhat, of a revolution over the past few years and what organisations are doing now to create an approach that gets the best from their people.

    Finally, we will hone in on what an inclusive, emotionally intelligence leader looks and sounds like and how they get the best results from their people through understanding their personality and strengths through a person-centred approach.

    These 4 sessions will act as the catalyst for what is sure to be an insightful, thought-provoking series.

     Look forward to seeing you on it and check out the website/social media for dates

    If you havent signed for this series of events you can do so here .

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  • Managing Mental Health Risk At Work

    Author: Steve LoftPosted: 23 June 2020

    When we talk about risk management, employee mental health is very often not something considered, but it can have a massive effect on health and safety in the workplace. I asked my colleague at WellMent, John Allen, to research the current thinking around mental health and risk management at work, and here’s his findings. Click read more to read the full article   


    Mental Health Risk Assessments at Work – How to write one in 2020

    We all have a legal and moral responsibility to manage work related risks, including mental health. The transport sector manages risks to staff and passengers every day. Maintaining good mental health amongst colleagues is smart and critical to success. The TSSA and other unions have been working together with transport companies to manage the risks and push employee wellbeing to the top of the agenda.

    Why do we need to risk assess mental health at work?

    Poor mental health costs us all financially and morally. Following 2017’s ‘Thriving at Work’ review, the latest analysis by Deloitte shows poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion a year – a rise of 16% since 2016. 1 in 6 people in the last week will have experienced anxiety or depression. And in the rail industry, the rate of suicide is 1.6 times higher than the UK average. But the research also showed that for every £1 invested in mental health interventions, employers get back £5 per person. Investing in good mental health at work reduces sickness, presenteeism (showing up for work when you’re sick) and staff turnover. Away from the figures, we have a moral obligation. Work should not make us ill or exacerbate existing illness. Work should be a positive force in our lives, helping to provide us with a sense of identity and achievement.

    So how do we risk assess mental health at work?

    We combine the guidance from the HSE, Mind and other leading experts and marry it with guidance from sector specific experts; in this case the transport sector. We must also consider the impact of Covid-19, particularly in the transport sector. The pandemic has forced everyone to adjust their risk assessments and the UK government has now recommended every employer to include managing mental health in return to work strategies. Below are recommendations on risk assessing mental health at work.

    “Work-related mental health issues must be assessed to measure the levels of risk to staff. Where a risk is identified, steps must be taken to remove it or reduce it as far as reasonably practicable” 


    Remember; employees have the right to work where risks to their health are properly controlled. Employees also have the right to protection after returning to work from sickness absence if an illness has made them more vulnerable.

    Drawing up a mental health risk assessment 

    1. Identify the mental health hazards 

    Abusive customers? Passenger accident or suicide? Armed robbery? Bullying? These are some hazards that might result from work situations in the transport sector. Before you start listing what you think the current hazards are, it is worth checking to see if there is an existing risk assessment for mental health. See if you can locate it. Cross-check existing assessments with HSE guidelines. Do they provide provision for mental health risks? If not, a new assessment needs to be done. Once done, you can then begin accurately identifying the mental health hazards still present at work. 

    2. Assess the mental health risks 

    Start by consulting each other. For example, how likely are workers liable to need support or time off due to crippling anxiety, depression, PTSD, or another mental health condition exacerbated or caused by work? Assess these risks in your workplace. What impact do they have on day-to-day functions? What impact are they having organisationally? What is the organisation already doing to minimise these risks? 

    3. Control the mental health risks 

    Is there occupational health support in place? Is there a wellbeing strategy to help the organisation thrive? You and your colleagues know better than anyone what the risks and potential risks are. Talk to colleagues. Talk to your manager. Ask questions. Your workforce is diverse, and everyone will be experiencing different issues. They may have suggestions you didn’t think of. Another way to help control these risks, is to consult government sanctioned support and advice for employers. You could use Mind’s guide on the Stevenson/Farmer ‘Thriving at Work’ review. This is UK government supported data and guidance. The report suggests all organisations adopt some core standards. These standards can be useful ‘lampposts’ to guide your mental health risk assessments and wellbeing strategy. 

    4. Record your findings 

    Key to any risk assessment is to record your findings. A failure to do so will invalidate any assessment and could lead to increased mental health problems in the future. Plus, it’s useful having a ‘go-to’ document to refer to when you’re not sure about issues. 

    5. Review the controls 

    Review agreed control measures regularly. In the current Covid-19 climate, a good routine to get into is perhaps once a quarter. It might be you don’t need to review for at least a year, but with the ever changing nature of work in an uncertain environment, you might want to review mental health risk more regularly than a standard assessment. 

    6. Build Covid-19 into mental health risk 

    The virus is not going anywhere. Science tells us this. So, we have to find ways to thrive with it. The current fallout caused by Covid-19 includes increased anxiety, frustration, guilt, anger, grief, fear of redundancy and general upset. What special controls do you think might help in a mental health risk assessment? E.g. PPE, minimal customer contact, regular management check-ins, support buddies, flexing or reducing work hours where practicable, using wellbeing champions, ensuring there are an appropriate number of Mental Health First Aiders available, providing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for staff to call, or signposting to relevant local or industry support services where an EAP does not exist. 

    Raise awareness & show stigma a red signal

    It can be difficult to speak out sometimes. Incredibly difficult. But with UK mental health at an all-time low, it is essential we all try to speak up, particularly to help those unable or too afraid to do so. Use the resources provided by the TSSA and other organisations. Arrange meetings and discussions. Remember: Talking saves lives. Talking also helps organisations thrive. If senior management struggle to understand the importance of mental health, show them the statistics and investment returns. Approach from the profit angle if the moral angle doesn’t get through. Above all, try and remain positive. 

    Managing the mental health risk is everyone’s responsibility

    Just like physical health and safety, it is everyone’s responsibility to manage the mental health and safety of themselves and their colleagues. Mental health is like physical health, if we don’t look after it, we will keep ignoring our own personal “warnings” and passing our “red signals”. 

    References & Sources

    How to Implement the Thriving at Work Mental Health Standard in Your Workplace – Mind 

    Saving lives on the railways – Samaritans 

    Poor mental health costs employers £45 billion a year – Deloitte, Jan 2020 

    How to be mentally healthy at work – Mind, 2016 

    Mental Health in the Rail Industry – Mental Health at Work 

    Covid-19 – Lockdown and your mental wellbeing - RSSB, April 2020 

    Mental Health in the Workplace – Word Health Organisation (WHO), May 2019


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