This evening (Tuesday 28 March 2017) marked Mind’s inaugural Workplace Wellbeing Index Awards, an event recognising and celebrating employers’ commitment to prioritising mental health at work. Based on a number of measures, and input from HR professionals, managers and staff from within their organisation, employers were awarded either ‘Gold’, ‘Silver’, ‘Bronze’ or ‘Committed to Action’. The most mentally healthy workplaces are those that have in place measures to tackle the causes of work related stress and poor mental health, promote good wellbeing for all their employers and support staff experiencing mental health problems.
The Environment Agency – an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) – topped the board at number one, and alongside Ark Conway Primary Academy, a primary school in West London, received a Gold Award - the most prestigious accolade.
Taking place at London’s Soho Hotel, the event was hosted by TV presenter, author and Mind Ambassador, Anna Williamson. The two Gold Award winning employers were closely followed by five other organisations who all achieved a Silver Award in recognition of the initiatives they have in place to support the wellbeing of their employees. These were Deloitte LLP, Forsters LLP, Lendlease, Matrix Chambers and Royal Bank of Canada Wealth Management.
Other employers - B3Living, Barnardos, CancerCare, Dr Challoner’s Grammar School, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Haringey Council, Historic England, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Benefits and Credits Operation, Jagex Limited, Jaguar Land Rover, Laing O’Rourke, LSI Architects LLP, Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure Limited, Needlers Limited, PepsiCo UK, Rowan Alba Ltd, and The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple - achieved a Bronze Award.
The remaining participants received ‘Committed to Action’ meaning that they have in place certain initiatives to promote staff wellbeing, but are at the start of their journey.
Two individuals were also awarded for normalising and embedding mental health support in their workplace cultures. Carole Black, Assistant Headteacher at Dr Challoner’s Grammar School was awarded the Senior Wellbeing Champion Award and Heidi Kirkby, Wellbeing Co-ordinator at HMRC was awarded the Employee Champion Award for their commitment to prioritising mental health in the workplace.
The Workplace Wellbeing Index Awards come as Mind releases data showing that of those staff who had disclosed poor mental health at work (2,200 employees), just over half (53 per cent) said they felt supported, and 72 per cent said they’d been made aware of the support tools such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), counselling, staff support network or informal buddying systems. Over half (56 per cent) were offered reasonable adjustments or support measures, such as changes to hours worked or the nature of some of their duties.
While the research suggests that overall, staff working for these organisations reported having good mental health at work, where their mental health wasn’t good, they felt their workplace was a contributory factor. Just over 1 in 10 (12 per cent or 1,765 employees) said their mental health was poor. Over one in four (26 per cent) experiencing poor mental health said that this was due to problems at work.
Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, said:
“In the last few years, we’ve seen employers make great strides when it comes to tackling stress and supporting the mental wellbeing of their staff, including those with a diagnosed mental health problem. We’re delighted to recognise and celebrate employers making mental health a priority for their organisation through our Workplace Wellbeing Index. In our first year, we’ve seen good practice right across the board, from each and every one of the thirty pioneering employers to take part. The Awards event provided an opportunity to recognise those forward-thinking employers who are working hard to promote good mental health and wellbeing among their workforce.
“Particular congratulations go to the Environment Agency and Ark Conway Primary Academy, who topped the board when it comes to taking staff mental health seriously and embedding good practice throughout. We’re now welcoming existing and new Index participants to continue to promote good practice and work with organisations to encourage and support them to go even further by taking part in next year’s Index.”
Dr Andy Croxford, Head of Research at the Environment Agency, said:
“I am hugely proud of what we’ve achieved at the Environment Agency. This recognition is great – to know where we are in terms of supporting our colleagues and where we go from here. Coming top is a complete surprise. Workplace wellbeing is something that all employers need to take seriously and we are thrilled to be at the cutting edge when it comes to creating a mentally healthy environment for our employees.”
Mind ambassador Anna Williamson said:
“I know first-hand how difficult it can be talking to your employers about your mental health. For many years, I’ve battled severe anxiety and panic attacks, culminating in me having a breakdown while working on a children’s television programme early on in my career. Fortunately, my employers were great, I was signed off work for a bit, and given lots of support from colleagues while I was off and when I returned. I only wish I’d opened up sooner before things got so bad, but it really depends on the culture of the workplace.
“I’m proud to be working with Mind on their first ever Workplace Wellbeing Index Awards, recognising employers who are taking steps to promote wellbeing for all their staff, including those struggling with their mental health. My new book, ‘Breaking Mad: The Insider’s Guide to Conquering Anxiety’ provides practical tops on coping with feeling anxious.”