By Mel Taylor – Group HR Director
Living and working with mental health issues can be challenging, with evidence suggesting that 12.7 per cent of all sick days taken in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.
On average, 1 in 4 people experience mental health challenges. Studies show that better mental health support in the workplace can save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year. The cold hard facts and figures around mental health have been thrown about a lot over the past five days. But their importance is such that they cannot be said enough
Companies must be held accountable for the wellbeing of their employees, and the annual Mental Health Awareness Week was aimed at tackling this. Some of you may have received a daily newsletter this week, each focusing on a different element of maintaining a positive mind-set from self-care to stress management. However, it’s imperative that we don’t just shout about it during these seven days and keep the momentum going year-round. It has been a year since Churchill launched its Time to Change scheme. One year on, there is a real sense that the tide is turning for the better.
Since the launch, Isabella Williams has been coordinating regional mental health champions in supporting their co-workers. The nuts and bolts of the programme has included an Employee Assistance Programme – including 24/7 counselling, legal and medical support functions. We have the ‘be in your colleague’s corner’ posters in our offices. These initiatives form the backbone of any mental health strategy.
However, this is not enough. Working in FM – whether it’s in head office or in operations – is incredibly fast-paced. What we’ve found has been an incredibly effective method of boosting morale is encouraging staff to take time during work hours to pull the focus away from their job and instead socialise with colleagues. Interacting with your team and building friendly relationships in an informal setting means you’re far more likely to feel comfortable in confiding your wellbeing concerns with them. These occasions have taken many forms, from charity coffee mornings to a celebration of the upcoming royal wedding. In giving our staff the autonomy to host their own events such as this feels far more genuine than proposing to simply have a scheduled 1-hour meeting to sit and talk about Time to Change every month. This is it in practice.
We’ve had instances where a colleague has sat down with their line manager and flagged their concerns for a colleague’s wellbeing. These are exactly the kind of conversations that we want to be having, and I believe this has been the result of Churchill’s commitment to the Time to Change pledge. Well done everyone, and let’s keep the up the momentum gained this week for the rest of 2018 and beyond.