Here are our top tips on creating an effective mental health and wellbeing culture:

Take the temperature

Conduct regular health and wellbeing surveys to find out the issues that really matter to people.  Use the results to identify areas where you can focus your wellbeing strategy - whether that be physical, mental, financial or social that you can focus your wellbeing activity on.

Encourage disclosure

Key is to reduce the stigma and discrimination around mental health. Promote open conversation – make wellbeing a regular talking point and try to embed it by adding it as a regular point on team meeting agendas.

Getting people to share their own experiences is a really effective way to do this. If you can, find senior people in your organisation who will be open about their own mental health and be role models.

Signposting to tools & resources

It is important, especially when not everyone is in the office, to ensure that everyone knows what support and resources are available and how to access them.

Use regular internal communications such as a newsletter or vlogs and establish a dedicated health and wellbeing intranet site so that information can be easily located.

Training & education

Prevention is better than cure and it’s important that HR, line managers and employees are adequately trained to give them the capability and confidence to be able to spot signs and symptoms, mental health red flags in remote workers and have good conversations around mental health.

Ensure managers know your policies around things like absence, medical appointments and what resources are available to offer employees whether that’s EAP, Occupational Health, medical benefits or MHFAs.

We have a legal duty of care and there are frameworks in place to ensure employers acknowledge and act appropriately and responsibly when it comes to stress-related ill health arising from work activities and to take measures to control that risk.

Embed wellbeing into working practices

Really examine your processes and think about what changes you might be able to make.

One of the biggest issues we have faced is the blurring of work and home boundaries, everyone's resilience has waned as the pandemic has gone one, and it’s has become more difficult for people to manage the lack of separation between home and work.

A few things that we have done as a result of employee feedback;

  • Be flexible with ‘core’ hours – encourage people to ‘own their day’ and to use the increased flexibility that has been introduced as a result of Covid-19 to prioritise their wellbeing
  • Build wellbeing conversations into processes such as induction, performance reviews, exit interviews.
  • And into policies such as absence management, bullying and harassment, D&I – we find this helps validate employee’s issues and makes them more likely to open up as they feel they have ‘permission’.
  • Encourage mindful business practices  (consider limiting the duration of internal meetings, respect rest periods whether holidays, lunch breaks etc., proper communication and delegation, fair work allocation)
  • Acknowledge and try to combat issues around viral fatigue and consider what you can do to promote digital wellbeing (mainly about reframing our relationship with technology promote blocking time out for walks/breaks/fitness classes, encourage ‘walking meetings’ on the phone or in person (subject to restrictions) and using the phone rather than video calls all the time.

Build a wellbeing community

It’s good to have someone who is responsible for overseeing wellbeing in the organisation but it’s a big job so mobilise and promote your internal community.

This could include Mental Health First Aiders (if you have them), HR, senior leaders or champions who are comfortable visibly sponsoring this agenda and employee networks. A Mental Health Steering Group can help to raise awareness, manage content and organise virtual events.

Communication & connection

One of the biggest issues impacting our colleagues has been the loss of human connection that remote working has brought with it. We are really aware that the relationships we have with our colleagues and managers is really important to our sense of wellbeing.

  • Encourage managers to do regular 1:1 calls and include non-work chat.
  • Build health & wellbeing into performance review conversations and into team meeting agendas.
  • Provide regular opportunity for social connection.
  • Encourage people to share personal stories via your intranet, newsletter and social media.

Take a holistic approach

It is important to realise the close link between mental health and physical, financial and social health.

Mental health doesn’t exist in a vacuum and promoting healthy lifestyle choices, responsible financial management and providing opportunities for social connection are also important.

Make a public commitment

We signed up to the Mindful Business Charter in 2019 and it has provided a really useful platform for us to base much of our work on mental health.

You could consider signing up to something like the ‘Mindful Business Charter, BITC & Mind’s ‘Mental Health at Work Commitment’ or See Me’s ‘See Me in Work Programme’.

These not only provide a good framework on which to base an action plan but shows a desire to be held accountable.