With the sudden move to isolation and home working, how have you been championing wellbeing in your workplace? Tom Roberts, Compliance and HR Director from The Niche Group shares how they have been supporting their staff’s mental wellbeing during the pandemic. This includes having Employee Champions available to talk about any mental health concerns, implementing a new comprehensive Mental Health Policy and incorporating virtual social events to keep the company connected.

Why we signed the pledge

We will be signing the pledge as a commitment to our colleagues of the steps that we’re taking to ensure that employee mental health and well being is at the front of our minds. This has become increasingly more relevant of late with the COVID pandemic, meaning that we have over 50 colleagues working from home, juggling the challenges of adapting to a different way of working with their home lives and childcare responsibilities. Our commitment towards mental health awareness starts at the very top of the business, and our Board discuss our responsibilities to our colleagues on a weekly basis at the moment.

We’ve had to postpone our physical pledge signing event for the time being, but very much look forward to rearranging it the other side of current events, or potentially even a virtual signing event. Regardless of the pledge signing, we have fully embraced the spirit of the pledge scheme.

How to promote mental health awareness

We have a team of Employee Champions who will undergo mental health awareness training (when external factors allow), and our senior management team all undertook training earlier this year. We have an internal scheme we call Your Niche, which provides a wealth of information and resources for our colleagues online – it also allows us to arrange our social events (of which we have a very busy calendar, even with COVID!). Your Niche incorporates resources on mental health wellbeing, information from colleagues including tips for managing stress and anxiety, and a Wellness Action Plan. It also provides resources on COVID, and in particular our working from home policy which has recently been implemented. 

The mental health resources provided on Your Niche include a new and comprehensive Mental Health Policy (which includes the Wellness Action Plan). Our Champions have compiled this together with input from professional external parties, and also off the back of a recent Health & Happiness index survey which was undertaken with all colleagues. The survey was completely anonymous and allowed us to gather excellent information about how our teams were feeling – one of the key things highlighted was improved communication across the board, something we immediately started working on, and the Your Niche portal has allowed us to deliver through various means, including a regular blog.

We do a lot as a company to look after everyone’s mental wellbeing, and our social events play a huge part in this. Earlier this year we took 30+ colleagues bowling and laser tagging, and since the COVID lockdown we’ve been arranging virtual quizzes and happy hour hang outs in our “virtual pub” – we’re even planning on taking our events to a new level, with virtual Bingo, and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire planned over the coming weeks. 

Our team of Champions are always available for colleagues to talk to about any mental health concerns they might have, and we plan to run regular “Lunch & Learn” sessions on various different topics, including mental health and wellbeing. Our senior management team also make themselves available and check in with colleagues regularly to see how they’re doing (as well as enquiring as to wellbeing during regular performance reviews).

We like to think that our work does not cause too much stress on individuals, but appreciate that everybody works in different ways, and therefore we encourage colleagues to take time away from their desks throughout the day to clear their heads, whether that’s over lunch, at our communal coffee bar, or in one of our quiet “cwtches”.

"We do a lot as a company to look after everyone’s mental wellbeing, and our social events play a huge part in this...since the COVID lockdown we’ve been arranging virtual quizzes and happy hour hang outs in our “virtual pub” – we’re even planning on taking our events to a new level, with virtual Bingo, and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire planned over the coming weeks."


How this helps the workplace

Our efforts to encourage colleagues to discuss mental health helps in a myriad of ways. It’s helped to improve and change the opinions and stereotypes of mental illness that people can have, and it ensures that all of our colleagues feel that they are able to talk to people if they’re struggling. Awareness has been communicated across the board and worked into our organisational policies, so that all colleagues and senior management are aware of the working practices we’ve strived to implement. As important as physical wellbeing is to us and employee presence in the workplace, as too is mental wellbeing – our pledge helps ensure that we have a team of happy people that are loyal and hardworking, who know that they have a support network should they ever need it.

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