Make employee mental health and wellbeing a key component of your strategy
The positive impact of strong mental health and wellbeing initiatives are well documented, yet many leaders wait too long to implement a clear strategy in their organisation.
We spoke to one business leader who is emphatic about the importance of providing staff with the right support.
Make wellbeing a priority
Prioritising employee wellbeing has been a key part of enabling Medichecks to grow as a business. The home blood-testing company, which has expanded its workforce from 30 to 70 people in the last three years, puts staff wellbeing at the heart of its strategy.
Victoria Holden, head of people and customer services at Medichecks, said the company made employee wellbeing a top priority around two years ago. To ensure a focus on people remained high on the agenda, Victoria’s role was created to oversee it specifically.
“Prioritising employee mental health and wellbeing has been really important in enabling the business to grow so rapidly,” Victoria said.
“People strategy should be as important as business strategy. Ultimately, you're not going to be able to deliver your business strategy without people. Looking after staff wellbeing is essential.”
Deliver the changes
Medichecks has made sweeping changes to its culture, training programme and social calendar to ensure employee wellbeing is prioritised.
One of the biggest improvements the business made was establishing strong lines of communication between staff and their managers. To achieve this, managers have received training to equip them with the skills and confidence to have open conversations with staff in daily huddle meetings, weekly catch-ups and regular one-to-ones.
The business has also implemented many informal events where employees can connect with each other, such as Wednesday walks, pizza Fridays and lunch and learn sessions.
“We really started promoting how social connection and exercise can help mental health,” Victoria said.
The business has also made changes to its employee handbook and contracts to prioritise wellbeing. It has updated policies on maternity and paternity, absence and holidays. Many of the changes came as a result of engagement surveys with employees, Victoria said.
For staff working remotely, the business has utilised digital tools such as Microsoft Teams and Yammer so employees can connect with each other. On its Yammer forums, the business also posts out advice, support and articles on mental health specifically.
The company has also signed up to Perkbox, which combines employee benefits and wellbeing activities.
“You never know what people are going through behind the scenes and work can be a trigger and one of the things that is contributing to that. We really want to take care of our people and make sure the working environment is not something that’s adding to people’s burdens,” Victoria said.
Support when needed
When employees report that they are struggling with mental health, or when managers identify people as potentially struggling, Medichecks has a clear structure in place to offer support.
The business is fortunate in that it has general practitioners within the team, which staff can speak with in confidence at any time. However, the business also has clear signposting to third-party counsellors and external support and guidance if needed.
One of the easiest ways to offer support is simply by creating a culture of open communication. Simply asking people how they are feeling and encouraging employees to connect with each other, as well as with managers, creates a strong support network.
“We’ve put so much into communication. Whether it’s those huddles, encouraging people to call one another, one-to-ones or the Yammer platform, we always make sure people are connected,” Victoria said.
location: East Midlands (England)
business size: 50-99 People
business type: Health & care services
Top three takeaways
Employees are an integral part of delivering overall business strategy. Therefore, prioritising staff wellbeing is crucial to ensure goals are achieved.
Creating an open dialogue between employees and managers is an important part of monitoring wellbeing. Establish regular meetings, one-on-ones and social events to encourage this.
Making wellbeing a priority will never totally eliminate mental health problems. Ensure you have in-house support and signposting to external support when employees are struggling.