Joe Dent: Could employers do more to support the mental health of staff?

Mental health and the wider topic of health and wellbeing of our colleagues is of the utmost importance to us, which is why it’s one of the six key pillars of our People Excellence Strategy, bringing to life the Our Princes – Our People philosophy.

Whether colleagues are facing emotional, physical or financial challenges, or simply want to keep their wellbeing in check, we want to do what we can to support and steer them to access the right support and help.

During the last three years we have had a number of successes. As well as talking openly to colleagues about my own mental health and my struggles with anxiety, we launched our mental health first aider (MHFA) programme which has now been extended to all of our seven UK sites ahead of a planned international roll-out.

Our 70 MHFAs, who all give their time voluntarily on top of their day job, are very visible in the business so they’re instantly recognisable and their details and photographs are shared on our colleague noticeboards.

We’re piloting a Sunflower Room at our head office in Liverpool. It’s a lovely bright room with comfy sofas and blankets and a quiet space for colleagues to take a time out.

We have a long-standing partnership with Health Assured, our employee assistance programme (EAP) provider and in addition to 24/7 365-days-a-year access to the confidential helpline, colleagues can find information and resources via our portal and indeed directly through our Feel Good Hub Powered by PerkBox benefits platform.

We have recently recruited our first inclusion and diversity (I&D) manager and last month launched our I&D 2.0 Strategy. One of our six colleague resource groups (CRGs) is about accessibility and focuses on cultivating a workplace where disabilities and long-term physical and mental health challenges are understood without stigma.

We’re not resting on our laurels but moving forward with our next iteration of our strategy which is about truly embedding health and wellbeing across the Princes Group. It’s challenging because we have multiple and diverse locations from the UK and Europe to Mauritius, but that won’t deter us.

Among the key initiatives will be a monthly Wellbeing Wednesday newsletter sent to our 7,000 plus colleagues with support, advice and guidance on key issues. We’re also creating a global wellbeing hub in each of our locations as a central point for colleagues to access documents, policies and procedures relevant to health and wellbeing.

Creating an environment that encourages colleagues to be open about their issues and concerns is important to us, and our relationship with colleagues doesn’t stop at the end of a working day.

Joe Dent is chief people officer at Princes

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