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Supporting your employees Mental Health at work


How to support your employees with Mental Health at Work.

The Mental Health at Work report 2018 shows that SMEs lag behind the positive change that is taking place in larger companies.

It may not be possible for smaller businesses to have formal policies for every situation. But they can still develop a clear, positive culture and approach on mental health and communicate this clearly to staff.

Employees in the largest organisations are more confident talking about mental health, and more open about sensitive issues such as race, gender and sexuality. They are also more likely to receive training around mental health issues and have access to support, including an EAP and occupational therapy.

To help seek advice and support, small businesses can access the free Fit for Work Adviceline service provided by NHS occupational health services. They can also access Mental Health Toolkit for Employers, developed by BITC in partnership with Public Health England

Impact story – Forster Communications

PR is regularly named as one of the more stressful jobs in the UK. Forster are a 20-person company working in a media focused industry with deadlines that don’t always fit into the nine-to-five model, but they are committed to doing things differently and they told us how.

“We have been pushing the boundaries of what best practice means for our industry and SMEs across the UK for the last 22 years. Last year we were named ‘Britain’s Healthiest Workplace’ in the SME category by Vitality. We were also awarded ‘Best for the World’ in Workers and Governance categories by B Corp, a certification for companies who meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

Creating an inclusive culture is at the heart of everything we do. Strongly embedded flexible working practices, including flexible start and finish times and the option to work from home, are offered to all employees. Our Learning and Development programme is structured around our company values and we build into personal development reviews a discussion on the individual’s personal needs, making sure that regular check-ins and reasonable adjustments are being made to their environment or workload.

We incentivise and provide training on areas around our employees’ physical health, which we know is fundamentally linked to mental health. For example, employees can accrue ‘pedal points’, earning time off by cycling or walking to work, as well as earning 50p per mile for cycling or walking to meetings.

This has helped ensure that almost a third of our employees now cycle to work. We also run sessions with nutritionists and mindfulness experts and hold regular running and walking clubs.

Crucially, we provide specific support and training on mental health. This ranges from themed activities to help reduce the stigma, like paid-for coffee catch ups on Time to Talk day, to training on having sensitive conversations or managing your relationship with your smartphone. We ask for anonymous feedback through our annual employee survey and have a trained mental health first-aider. Underlying all of this is regular reporting to the Board across all these areas, ensuring

mental health issues are being discussed at that level. We are a social change PR agency, which inevitably means working with emotionally-charged topics. So we’ve also made sure that employees are given headspace after especially difficult interviews or meetings.

Findings from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace showed that we had 30% lower rates of health related presenteeism and absenteeism than the UK average. 41% of our employees are subject to at least one dimension of work-related stress (demands, support, change, relationships strains or role clarity) but 67% had felt that our work-life balance interventions had improved their health and wellbeing. All employees who participated in the survey (96% of the company took part) were within the healthy range for mental wellbeing.

Our internal tracking shows that our employees take on average two days of sick per year, 15% less than our sector average. 93% of employees feel they have access to information and education to help them stay resilient and cope at work. As a small company with around 20 permanent employees, we know that the most successful ways of supporting employee wellbeing are often the

simplest. We advocate trying new wellbeing initiatives and, most importantly, talking to our employees – this means we find out what support or benefits they particularly appreciate.”

BITC Wellbeing
About the Author

BITC Wellbeing

BITC Wellbeing works to ensure employee wellbeing is a strategic boardroom issue, and to support healthier, happier & more productive employees.

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