Mindful Employer: Setting the Standard

Following a meeting with Leeds MIND, we have signed up with the MINDFUL EMPLOYER ® scheme and adopted the ‘Charter for Employers who are Positive about Mental Health’. Garbutt + Elliott has since rolled out a scheme aimed at opening up the conversation about mental health in the workplace and staying mentally fit.

“At Garbutt + Elliott we are mindful that the workplace can be a stressful environment, and have always done what we can to help our staff to achieve a good work life balance by offering flexible working hours and providing employees with a health care cash plan that offers mental health support.

“When speaking to Leeds MIND it became clear that there was more that we could do – both to encourage those with mental health issues to speak out, and to give our managers the tools they need to help those who do come forward. This is something that larger companies often have in place, but it can be neglected in small to medium sized firms.  In launching the initiative, we are aiming to set the standard for how companies of our size in Yorkshire support their employees’ mental wellbeing.”

Prior to launching this mental health initiative, we conducted an independent survey of our staff, facilitated by Leeds Trinity University, to gauge awareness of mental health issues and the perception of mental health support throughout the company. Once the results were gathered, we set about creating a culture where people  feel they  can talk openly about mental health.

A key part of this is ensuring that managers receive training to equip them with the knowledge and confidence to have supportive conversations with their teams, should the need arise. The firm is also holding taster sessions at its Leeds and York offices to raise mental health awareness and is planning workshops to encourage employees to maintain their mental wellbeing, exactly as they would for physical health.

Explaining the scheme further, our HR manager Chloe Owens said: “This initiative is about encouraging people to be open about their mental health and overcome the stigma associated with mental health issues. We want to create a culture where people feel they can talk openly with their managers about these matters and to ensure that managers are fully equipped for those conversations.”

Mental health related issues are the most common reason for long term absences within the workplace across the UK, with sick leave due to mental ill health costing employers in the UK £30 billion per year in lost productivity, recruitment and absence.

The Charter for Employers who are Positive about Mental Health is a voluntary agreement seeking to support employers in working within the spirit of its positive approach. The Charter is one element of the MINDFUL EMPLOYER initiative which is aimed at increasing awareness of mental health in the workplace and supporting businesses in recruiting and retaining staff.

A wide range of employers from all over the UK are involved in the initiative which gives businesses and organisations easier access to information, practical support, training, networks and assistance from other employers.

MINDFUL EMPLOYER is a UK-wide initiative run by Workways, part of Devon Partnership NHS Trust. More information at www.mindfulemployer.net