Supporting Employee’s Mental Health and Wellbeing: What We’ve Learned
Although LSI has long been recognised as one of the best employers in the construction industry for its people first approach, our journey towards better supporting our team’s mental health and wellbeing specifically started in earnest in 2016. For some of us at LSI, 2016 was a year that brought some very personal challenges with mental health. Reflecting on these events was a call to action that we could do more to support our people.
Since then, we have a number of “lessons learned” that we believe could help others on their own journey in this area.
Our tips to better support your people are:
Ease people in
1 in 4 people now suffer some form of mental illness each year. It is no longer something that can be brushed under the carpet, but we know that is still often seen as a ‘taboo’ subject.
We were clear that we wanted to create a more open and supportive environment at LSI, where people could feel comfortable sharing any problem they were facing, but we knew that it was something we would need to build over a period of time.
We chose to start by introducing Mind’s 7 ways to wellbeing in four 30-minute workshops delivered by a training provider from Mind. The workshops were designed to provide strategies and mechanisms to keep people well and resilient. Attendance at the workshops was not mandatory and each workshop took place inside work time.
For us, this worked well in that each of these workshops were highly engaging. They served to pique people’s interests and initiate a conversation around mental health and wellbeing.
We are now rerunning these sessions virtually for all of our team. For some of our people this will be the first time they have attended these useful sessions but even for those who have already attended, these can provide an opportunity to remind ourselves of the things we can do to look after our own mental health and wellbeing during this challenging situation, as well as how we can support our colleagues.
Create Opportunities for Connection
To build an environment that is open and supportive there must be opportunities for people to connect with one another and that is especially important in the current situation we find ourselves in, but also more challenging.
Prior to the lockdown, we had put a great deal of thought into the kind of physical environment we wanted our workplace to be and while we have made sure to provide quiet spaces and opportunities for self-reflection, such as yoga and reflexology, we had equally created spaces and opportunities for people to come together, such as an annual study trip and pitch and putt tournament.
By turning what was previously a conference room into a new social space we’d seen that more people are choosing to spend their lunch hour here connecting with colleagues as opposed to eating their lunch at their desk.
Now, armed with the knowledge of how important creating opportunities to connect are, we are continuing to hold our weekly Monday Morning Meeting over Microsoft Teams and have also introduced a weekly Directors update to keep all of our people up to date with our approach to managing the current situation which has provided our teams with some reassurance during a difficult time.
We’ve moved some of the physical events we had planned to online events, for example a drinks event for a retiring Director was held on Zoom and featured a quiz and Q&A session, providing a really good opportunity for us all to catch up socially and connect with one another again, if only virtually and not physically.
Incorporate Wellbeing into Development Reviews
Our one to one personal development review programme now has a more balanced focus across three areas: people’s performance, development and wellbeing. Incorporating a ‘Wellness Action Plan’ into this process encourages mentees to confidentially advise mentors on what helps keep them well at work, what might cause issues and how LSI can best support them.
Both mentors and mentees have commented how beneficial they have found this, particularly in helping them to understand their own triggers and knowing how they can support their colleagues.
We have also introduced a new online system, Clear Review, which provides us with a tool to make sure one to one’s are taking place so that people are getting the regular support, around performance and wellbeing that they deserve.
Throughout the lockdown, we have mandated that mentors and mentees must meet virtually on a weekly basis and we are tracking this via Clear Review.
Take part in the MIND Workplace Wellbeing Index
Participating in the MIND Workplace Wellbeing Index has provided us with something around which we could structure our approach and measure its impact.
We have received invaluable feedback from our employees through taking part in the Index.
One such example came from our first survey. Whilst our employees told us that they felt that their line managers were able to support their mental health and wellbeing, our line managers told us that they did not feel able to provide support to employees who may be experiencing issues concerning their mental health and wellbeing. Following this feedback, we arranged mandatory training for those with line management responsibility around how to proactively support their team’s wellbeing and also importantly how to respond to trauma events.
Alongside this useful feedback, we have received recommendations from experts in this area as to how to move our programme of activity forward and have had excellent opportunities to link up with other organisations to share learning and experiences.
You can register your interest in taking part in the 2020/2021 index here: mind.org.uk/index.