Why workplace wellbeing is board-level business
Bevis Watts, MD of Triodos Bank, says that Mental Health First Aid training makes a real difference to employees – as do the five ways to wellbeing.
He described at our CEO event last week how Triodos colleagues had shared personal experiences on World Mental Health Day. One said that if she hadn’t had the support from a mental health first aider, there would have been very serious consequences. Thankfully this was avoided, and the co-worker was able to talk about her experience to the benefit of other colleagues. Bevis is wholly supportive of ‘de-stigmatising’ mental health in this way.
If the MD of a major, successful organisation is this committed to workplace wellbeing, it speaks volumes. Bevis described how Triodos Bank takes a ‘top down’ approach to creating a healthy culture because it pays dividends such as:
- motivated, engaged workers
- improved retention
- reduced sickness
- a sense of community
- customer engagement.
Using the five ways to wellbeing as a framework, here are just some of the initiatives Triodos offers:
- a ‘buddy’ system
- mental health first aiders
- a pleasant working environment
- employee benefits, including a wellbeing allowance
- gym discounts
- mindfulness and resilience training
- reflection days
- support for fundraising challenges
- team sports.
Triodos Bank has been recognised by Wylde IA, along with PES, as one of the top employers in the South West.
A great employee experience
Ian Rummels, Head of Thinking and Possibilities (aka CEO) at PES, said that the UK has the lowest unemployment rate since 1975, at just four per cent. This means the competition for talent is fierce. CEOs need to think about how their workplace culture will attract the best employees.
But it isn’t just about statistics. Ian believes passionately that people perform at their best when they are happy at work. He shared our employee experience diagram to give the CEOs in the room a framework for creating a happy business.
The legal framework
Gareth Edwards, Partner at VWV Solicitors, who hosted the event, commented on the shift CEOs need to make to embrace the psychosocial as well as the physical wellbeing aspects of working life.
He then outlined the contractual aspects of wellbeing – the paperwork and policies required to embed a positive employee experience within a legal framework.
What can CEOs do?
Debbie Kleiner-Gaines, Head of Workplace Happiness at PES, spoke about bringing our ‘authentic selves’ to work. The British tend to ‘keep calm and carry on’ rather than express how they feel. This can of course lead to mental health problems.
Debbie highlighted two things (among many) that CEOs can specifically influence – culture and line management.
Leaders set the culture in an organisation. They can also support their line managers to create an open, supportive atmosphere with initiatives such as:
- holistic line manager training
- accessible workspaces with room for private conversations
- rewarding and acknowledging good practice in encouraging positive mental health
- emotional supervision
- including wellbeing in reviews as well as workplace objectives.
Debbie stressed that workplace wellbeing is not a ‘tick box’ exercise, but requires a holistic approach to creating a positive employee experience. She went on to describe the PES ‘check, plan, deliver’ approach to developing a wellbeing strategy.
What participants said
‘What an enlightening, inspirational, thought provoking session. The speakers came across as so sincere and well read. It was very worthwhile for me – I came away feeling extremely motivated to implement changes within our team and working practices.’
‘Useful to hear from organisations who walk the talk and have embedded wellbeing in every aspect of leadership. Very inspiring! Thank you.’
How can employee benefits be linked to a wellbeing plan?
Health benefits in particular have to link to a wellbeing plan because if you have an EAP, this will be a fundamental support for employees suffering from mental ill health or stress. Managers and team members should be able to signpost colleagues to this service. Also, there are many add-ons from employee benefit providers such as training discounts and mindfulness apps which employees can have access to, as part of a clear, streamlined set of products and services.
Does Mental Health First Aid training work?
If this Is all you do, then it won’t be as effective as having an integrated strategy. But your first aiders will be able to have much better conversations with employees and signpost them to appropriate services. Better still though is to adopt a holistic approach to wellbeing that incorporates prevention as well as cure.
What sorts of things do you measure when looking at workplace wellbeing?
Bringing together a whole host of data that you already have is a great place to start! For example, PMI or EAP data, absence data and employee surveys can be added to data from health checks, focus groups and welllbeing surveys. Make sure you use validated measures, then you have a solid benchmark going forward. You can also measure against national wellbeing benchmarks.
Delivering a great employee experience is a challenge for growing organisations. At PES, it’s what we do. Our online employee benefits platform, HR support and workplace wellbeing services bring out the best in your employees – enabling your business to thrive.