Supporting staff wellbeing

Early this year, Magenta joined the Time to Change campaign as part of our ongoing commitment towards wellbeing at work. With one in four colleagues suffering from a mental health problem, our attitude towards mental health could make a serious difference in someone’s life. In the simplest terms, if we are happy to talk about our physical ailments (a sore back or a headache), why are we not comfortable talking about our mental health which is equally important?

As Magenta’s wellbeing co-ordinator, I recently attended in a Time to Change event in London, ‘Understanding where mental health fits in with your policies and legal requirements’, which provided plenty of food for thought. First to present on the day was Nayia Solea from Siemens Rail. Solea discussed how her organisation implemented its pledge to mental health wellbeing with some creatively designed initiatives but also by taking a step back and reviewing its policies to determine the best option for introducing its commitment. As the company has so many existing policies, it realised that it would be about imbedding this new way of thinking into its existing policies. Something that has had incredible success. Siemens realised that its first hurdle was to break down barriers and to get people talking openly about their mental health to break the stigma and open up dialogue. The company could see the changes working through an increase in Occupational Health visits, something it views positively as suddenly it has an open forum with staff who previously would not have felt supported.

Second up was Simon Bellm, an attorney from DMH Stallard.  Bellm opened by saying that this sort of change in the workplace needs to be positive, emphasising that this couldn’t be, ‘just another policy’. Businesses need to be mindful of what policies already exist and really weight up their best approach. Senior level buy-in is something that he felt was crucial for this to work. Bellm highlighted some key areas of ACAS, a guide for dealing with discipline and grievances in the workplace, and how these relate to mental health. There were four key areas he felt employers need to focus on: education; improvements in the workplace so that staff feel supported; improvement of communication between staff and any support available to them; and access to support should employees require it. The underlying theme was to ensure you’re proactive in your approach, consider what you can do when it’s busy, and weigh up what your team may need to stay supported. Mental health issues at work cost businesses £17 billion a year, so encouraging open conversations and considering health and safety from a mental health wellbeing angle are crucial.

Finally, we closed the day with an interactive workshop where we were given the opportunity to chat with other delegates and hear their ideas and provide insight and advice from our own experiences. I’ve definitely come away feeling more informed and also excited to implement some of the ideas I learned to Magenta’s own wellbeing policy. I would urge any business to invest time in their employees’ wellbeing. Knowing your workforce and being proactive to support them is worth the investment for creating a strong and healthy work force. If you haven’t already considered your employees mental health (or you’re an employee with an employer who has not yet considered it), head to the TIme to Change website . Its advice and support is exceptional and allows you to confidentially navigate a rather new approach to our working life.

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Ben Keeley