01 November 2018
Our community looks at the systems and strategies they are implementing to support employees
In light of the Mental Health at Work Report from the Prince’s Responsible Business Network, released to coincide with World Mental Health Day on 10 October, suggesting that mental health at work is still a neglected issue, we asked the Governance and Compliance and the Core community to look at the systems and strategies they are implementing to support employees.
Although the majority of our respondents do feel that their companies offer enough support for their staff’s mental wellbeing, this was still less than half (49%).
Many stated that it is something that has been improved upon, with one stating: ‘There is currently a wellbeing awareness drive in the company and the new office refurbishment has been done with employee wellbeing, break out spaces, quiet areas, social areas, etc. in mind.’ Another said: ‘It is getting better - Mental Health Day was highlighted and the EAP lets people speak to people who are experts‘ however, the same responder went on to say ‘but do all employees have a manager who checks that their team members are okay as part of their routine catch ups? - I am not sure.’
The majority of support for staff’s mental health is coming from external sources with 45% stating that they have an Employee Assistance Programme. Lack of training of line managers was highlighted as a concern by many, with one stating: ‘[We have a] good insurance provider and telephone support but managers lack training on how to engage with struggling employees’ and another ‘line managers do not have any training on how to deal with mental health issues. This can be a challenging issue for some managers to deal with.’
Buy in at the top was also low with only 45% saying that mental health and wellbeing had been considered at board level and others stating that it had been considered but not acted upon. One revealed that ‘we did start to support the Time to Change movement but then resources got tighter and no one had the time or resource to continue the work, and it didn’t have buy in at a senior level, so sadly lapsed.’
Others said that their board was engaged: ‘We have discussed the impact that increased pressure and change at work has on mental wellbeing and the board has begun discussing what more could be done to alleviate this in a sustained way.’ And another said ‘Our board is involved and understanding the issues affecting employees and how this can have a negative effect on business.’ One respondent felt that it was not the board’s place to be involved, claiming: ‘It’s being adequately considered and managed within the business and by the executive...not everything requires Board level consideration!’
Overall the majority of our community (51%) felt that their organisations could do more, with one stating: ‘As someone who has experienced mental health issues in the past, I am not sure that the provision that organisations do make is either as appropriate or as accessible as they think it is.’
Some felt that their workplace culture contributed to poor mental health with one stating: ‘As a company with a devolved structure we do not offer the level of support and care I have witnessed in other companies. With a rather ‘Macho’ culture, any sign of unwellness, physical or mental is considered to be weak.’ And another claiming ‘organisations put a lot of pressure on employees in order to achieve their bosses’ bonus objectives and much stress emanates from fulfilling these. And Co Secs are in a situation where bullying and mental stress are common place and you are expected to just deal with it.’
If you are a company secretary or governance professional at a leading UK business, and you would like to take part in or comment on future surveys, email firstname.lastname@example.org