On 16th May together with Peakon and Breaking the Silence we will be running our first event dedicated to Mental Health in the workplace. It’ll be an interactive afternoon of learning and networking with peers at the beautiful Peakon HQ in London.
Together with our partners and guest speakers we sat down this week to share thoughts and focus ahead of the event.
Why is mental health rising up the business agenda
Jonathan: It’s fantastic that workplace mental health is getting more prominence. And I think there are various reasons for this. It’s partly driven by organisations increasingly recognising that mental health sits alongside other Diversity & Inclusion issues such as gender, race, faith and other diversity issues. It’s also driven by an increasing number of courageous people who are willing to share their personal story – including employees & leaders in the workplace, celebrities and members of the Royal family. And it’s driven by economic factors – an increasing recognition that supporting mental wellness in the workplace drives better productivity and a more satisfied & engaged workforce.
David: More and more senior leaders are seeing the direct correlation between their wellbeing strategy and employee engagement. In the FTSE 100 the companies with a robust wellbeing programme are out outperforming all of the others.
Victoria: I agree! It just makes sense for companies to create a culture that supports employees with their mental health, as it affects everyone. And it’s not just HR’s job either- it’s something for the entire business to consider. In our daily lives, we spend the majority of our time in the workplace, so there’s a huge correlation between levels of stress at work and its effect on our mental health. Thankfully, a lot of companies are starting to realise this and make changes.
George: Great companies genuinely really care about their employees, so as people’s perceptions of mental health change and awareness and understanding increases these companies have taken action and prioritised their investment and support of people’s mental health in the workplace.
What’s your involvement in the ‘Open-Up’ event on May 16th and why?
Victoria: We’re hosting this event along with the EEA and Breaking the Silence at our Peakon London HQ. As an employee engagement software provider, it’s our job to help companies listen to their people, and change the workplace for the better. De-stigmatising and understanding mental health, and how to support those suffering with poor mental health, is a step in doing this, so we’re really pleased that we can host something like the Open Up event to get the conversation started.
Jonathan: I’m really looking forward to speaking at the event and sharing both my personal story and my insights on what we can do to normalise mental health conversations in the workplace. Alongside my long-standing leadership role in a large financial services organisation, I run a social enterprise called Evenhood. Through Evenhood I deliver motivational talks, provide coaching to individuals with mental health challenges and deliver training to line managers & leaders. My singular aim is to make it normal for people to have mentally healthy conversations at work. I’m excited to get involved with the Open-Up event to share how wonderful it can be for people to feel able to have a mentally healthy conversation with work colleagues.
David: I am privileged to be hosting this event along with the EEA and Peakon and will also be one of the speakers. I have committed the rest of my working life to creating stigma free cultures of trust that drive employee energy. Events like this are very good at helping businesses to understand that kinder more compassionate cultures will give you an immediate return on investment.
George: At Sanctus, we’re on a mission to change the perception of mental health and our big vision is to put the first mental health gym on the high street. At the Open-Up event, I’ll be sharing the Sanctus story and how our own experience of mental health led us here. I’ll also be talking about how we work with businesses and what we’ve learned over the last 2 years – hopefully this will be more of a Q&A. The final part of my session will be quite interactive … With so many experienced people in the room, I’m really interested in hearing more about what you have learned – I’d love to know what’s worked (and what hasn’t!) for you and your business when it comes to mental health in the workplace.
What’s the link between Mental Health & Employee Engagement?
Jonathan: Mental health and employee engagement are completely linked. My talk is focused on how employers can have mentally healthy conversations with employees and I want to make it normal for people to talk about their mental health. I coach clients on how to talk about their mental health challenges in the workplace – in a way that makes it more likely for them to get support, rather than stigma. And I know from this practical experience, that the approach I promote on how to have good mental health conversations works. It produces greater productivity, less grievance, absence & complaints, and more satisfied staff. This is totally about employee engagement.
David: Everybody has mental health in the workplace so this subject is relevant to 100% of your employees. There is a direct link between your wellbeing and your energy levels, consequently a healthy workforce will be a highly energised workforce. A highly energised workforce is highly engaged, more productive and will generate better business results.
George: Investing in your employees is proven to improve engagement. For the last 5-10 years ‘investing in your employees wellbeing’ has included everything from offering fresh fruit in the office and gym memberships, to beers on a Friday and socials … Mental health is a huge part of people’s wellbeing and over the next 5-10 years it will play a very important role in the workplace.
Victoria: Definitely! At Peakon, we’ve seen that employee engagement is made up of so many different aspects: autonomy, recognition, organisational fit… and mental health plays a part in that. If you feel like you’re heard at work, and supported as a person (not just a resource!) you’re immediately more engaged. You’ll want to work harder, contribute your ideas and be passionate about a company that’s passionate about its people and what makes them tick. You only get out of your people what you put into them, and it’s so important that companies realise this, and start taking the time to create a culture that supports, listens and understands their employees’ needs.
What can people expect to learn at ‘Open-Up’?
David: I believe that the stigma we associate with mental health is the SILENCE. This is because we too often choose to say silent as opposed to open up a conversation with someone about their mental health. Consequently, the key to creating stigma free environments is to give more people the confidence and skills to ‘OPEN UP’ the conversation. This is a MUST attend event.
Victoria: I believe half of the battle as a manager or leader looking to introduce a mental health initiative is simply understanding where to start. It can be daunting! This event will not only help you do that, but dive a little deeper into the benefits behind making these changes, the steps you can take to get it right, and give you the tools to go away and make a real difference in your organisation. You can’t get much better than that!
George: I’m really looking forward to learning more about how other businesses approach mental health and I think people should expect to learn a lot from each other at the event.
Jonathan: My talk is much more than me sharing my personal story of my own mental health challenges. I invite the audience to play the role of my boss and provide me with the support I need so that I can perform and be effective in my leadership role while at the same time managing my mental health challenges. The audience can therefore expect to go on a journey of discovery through which they will learn how we can have better, mentally healthy conversations in the workplace. They even get an appraisal from me at the end. So there’s plenty to learn!