EE made £538,000 in cost savings by introducing early interventions for staff affected by mental ill health.
The savings resulted from an goal the business set to tackle and reduce employee mental health referrals across the organisation by more than 10% following the merger between mobile phone providers T-Mobile and Orange in 2010.
EE, which is the new brand for the merged entity, created a policy that tackled and focused on mental wellbeing to help achieve its goal.
Speaking at Employee Benefits Live on 24 September, Louise Harry, head of safety and sustainability at EE, said: “We have an employee assistance programme and occupational health, but it was about how we delivered that.
”We structured and developed a policy that took a hands on approach to healthcare and wellbeing in order to reduce the high rates of absence at the organisation linked to mental illness.”
Harry said that her biggest challenge was communication because it was not consistent across the newly-enlarged business, which now has more than 600 retail stores across the UK.
“Our aim was to engage the importance of health through the benefits in place and its link with productivity,” she added.
Since the merger and change in focus to mental wellbeing, the organisation’ Plymouth office has reduced its sickness absence rate to 6% of the employee population, with the number of employees on long-term sickness absence in the office down from 53 to 26 staff.
Harry said: “Wellbeing is very much a part of every department at EE and our engagement survey showed health to be a high ranking issue for staff.
“We spent time looking at health sickness to identify the steps to tackle it and come up with initiatives.”
She added: ”We have managed to engage with a number of resources and introduced line manager training to make the journey seamless. Employees can get action from day one”
Harry urged employers to recognise employees with mental health problems.