Developing firm-wide mental health and wellbeing initiatives – a perspective from our Amsterdam office
02 October 2020
Suzanne constantly strives to encourage positive change within the business. “As lawyers, we need to be conscious of our situation and the pressure we find ourselves under as a normal part of our work. It’s important we develop a balanced mind-set so we can remain highly and professionally involved rather than personally and subjectively attached: our personal worth is not assessed by the outcome of the case.”
In 2015, Suzanne went through a stressful time in her own life and realised her typical approach of ‘the busier it gets, the harder I run’ was not sustainable. She knew that there were fundamental actions she could take, not only to improve her own situation, but also to support others. Suzanne is a true believer in leading by example. Her children have always been important, so she has managed her work schedule in a way that would allow her to also meet their needs. As everyone has more than work to consider, she encourages her team to have open conversations about their priorities. She strives to ensure her colleagues pay due attention to their mental health, so that peak performance is balanced against down time. Practical measures are part of that, like discussions on how to switch off during holidays.
Your career, your life – you’re in the driver’s seat.
Suzanne Sikkink, Partner, Amsterdam
Together with Allen & Overy’s other mental health partners, Suzanne has been involved in the implementation of the Mindful Business Charter, which is a collaboration between organisations committed to reducing avoidable stress and driving change in the way we work.
Together with the Amsterdam HR team, virtual webinars for Mental Health Awareness Week, have been organised to support colleagues’ wellbeing during these challenging times. Dominique van Dreven, a member of the Human Resources team, explains: “We introduced a series of virtual seminars to talk about how we can influence our anxiety, recognise signals from our bodies, practice thought control and pay attention to moments of happiness. An initiative called ‘Perform in the Storm’ also provided practical models, exercises and insights to help our colleagues navigate the new normal and take control of their own energy.”
Suzanne is keen to share her experiences of how best to manage expectations in order to create a positive outcome for clients, build successful internal teams and minimise stress. Her mantra is a reminder for us all that we are in control: “Your career, your life – you’re in the driver’s seat.”