Mental Health Awareness Week kicks off today, focussing on helping people across the whole country achieve good mental health. This year is the 21st annual event and Make UK has developed a series of podcasts talking to wellbeing experts and some of our member companies about how they help and support the people that work for them.
Minister for Disabled people, Health and Work, Chloe Smith MP - Recognises there has been a shift in perception over attitudes to mental health and an increased willingness from both individuals to speak about issues and from employers keen to have conversations with their workforces. She explains in this podcast why it is a hugely positive shift in thinking that mental health is now getting the attention in the workplace it rightfully deserves. Absenteeism and presenteeism costs around £50billion a year to UK business and research has shown that addressing mental health and wellbeing issues can help businesses unlock productivity, keep staff for longer and reduce absenteeism. Government continues to work closely with HSE on this issue.
Dr Shaun Lundy, Director for Strategy & Innovation, Tetra Consultancy – Shaun, who works closely as an adviser to Make UK, speaks on best practice and what businesses can be doing to improve their support. He looks at best practice including wellbeing programmes put in place by BT and GlaxoSmithKline who have made great inroads into work in care for their employees in the wellbeing space.. Culture change is key to making an impact in, its not just a matter of offering support, senior staff within a business need to buy into it to make any initiative a success.
Laura McBrown, MD, G&B Electronics – During the pandemic, G&B Electronics recognised the importance of engaging with all their workforce - both those still working on site but equally those working from home. Managers appreciated quickly the different challenges facing both groups of workers, and that each way of working presented its own unique stresses. Laura speaks of the importance of regular engagement with the workforce and how seemingly small things can make a big impact. G&B Electronics are now seeing a a real return on their investment in this space.
Rachel Newman, Head of People, Policy & Support RNLI – Mental health has long been a priority for the RNLI. Physical and mental health are very much seen as equal players within the organisation, with a dedicated occupational health team offering guidance and support. They have embedded greater support specifically focussing on the mental health aspect which has been accelerated since the pandemic. RNLI have reactive but also preventative support including the mental health first aid programme, recruiting, training and have a focus on developing their own mental health first aiders to be accessible to everyone throughout the organisation. The stigma is slowly being removed from mental health and talking about issues which is welcomed. Your plan for wellbeing and mental health should be taken as seriously as any other part of your business.
Alison Corner, HR Director, Enginuity – Mental health awareness and support has long been a growing priority for Enginuity but the pandemic has accelerated that. We have tailored our support and increased the offer as a direct result of the pandemic. Presenteeism may once have been seen as a non-issue but is now being treated as a real problem that need to be addressed to make sure a workforce stays healthy, productive and well.
Andrew Ward, Make UK revealed £14bn annually is lost a year in industry from mental health issues affecting the workforce. Now 80% of HR directors say that wellbeing has shot up their importance ladder in terms of business priorities.