See Me and the WEF

Our Workplace Consultant Tom Scott speaks about the process we took employers on. 

Our Workplace Consultant Tom Scott speaks about the process we took employers on. 

We started the workplace equality fund pilot by recruiting four private sector employers, to trial a new approach to reducing mental health stigma and discrimination in the workplace, by giving large companies tailored consultancy to help make improvements.

The aim of the project was to create better employment opportunities, more equal opportunities for people with lived experience of mental health and improved and increased skills and abilities for staff members and managers to have better conversations and to be better able to support their staff.

We partnered with four companies, Babcock, Apex Hotels, solicitors Burness Paull and Scotrail. To see where the organisations were at we did an assessment to work out their needs. We did a staff survey that went out to everyone in all four companies to try to get their opinion on what was the implementation of the policies and practices like, what was the management behaviour like, what was the culture of the organisation.

As part of a needs assessment process we managed to speak to 150-200 people across the four companies, frontline staff, HR, management and Directors as well, which was really pleasing because if there's anything close to a silver bullet with reducing mental health stigma and discrimination it's leadership stories and buy-in.

“What has been great through this process is I never once had to sell the idea of improving the mental health policies, practices and culture.”

They all had unique challenges, some of them needed a lot of support, some of them were facing structural challenges or leadership challenges that meant that mental health kept slipping down the priority list. Some of them had absolutely superb support available for their staff but communication was an issue. The people didn't know that they had all of this stuff available to them. This was what made the tailored element of the consultancy really important, to make sure they got what they needed.

I remember talking to one of the people as part of the needs assessment, before we got into all the policy improvement and practice improvement and this person said that the support and the conversation and the general well feeling that they got from the company had reminded them of how proud they were to work for that organisation. That's a story that you don't usually get when you talk about mental health. It's usually the bad stuff that we hear about but when this is done right it really makes a difference to people, and that's what came across when I went and spoke to the staff members of these organisations.

I would say to all of the companies who are considering putting your time and resource into this, that it is an incredibly important thing to do.

There is a legal aspect obviously, it's part of the Equality Act, you have to provide reasonable adjustments and all that kind of stuff. There is a business case for it, the Thriving at Work report by Stevenson and Farmer shows that if you get this right, your bottom line goes up, the company makes more money.But for me the most important thing is that there is a human aspect to this as well.

We want to take care of each other. We want to take care of our staff, this pilot has shown that improvement in that areas is possible. Even with limited time, even with limited budget. As long as you have the will to make a change we can help you, we can point you in the right direction and make sure that your improvements are embedded and lasting and that your staff will see the distance.

If someone has a mental health problem, the best thing they can do when they’re ready is find someone that they trust, find a place that they’re comfortable in and talk about it, openly and honestly.

It's the same for a company, if you know that you have an issue with mental health support it's not going to go away however hard you might ignore it. There are people out there who can support you, there are organisations out there who can support you. We are here, we can help, come and ask us.

Employer Perspective

Hear from the employers involved on what they've done and how it's tackled stigma.

Employer Perspective