The Importance of Senior Leadership

Glasgow City Council looked at the importance of senior leadership buy in when tackling mental health stigma and discrimination in the workplace.

Glasgow City Council

The importance of senior leadership buy in when tackling mental health stigma and discrimination in the workplace.

Why did Glasgow City Council decide to take action to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination? 

We have over 25,000 employees, delivering essential services across the city to nearly 600,000 citizens. Our Wellbeing project was initiated to achieve our commitment in our Staff Health Strategy to improve mental health and wellbeing and to review our attendance policy to be fully inclusive in supporting mental health. 

We conducted an analysis of psychological absence statistics to determine where we would launch the pilot.  This resulted in Neighbourhoods and Sustainability service (NAS) conducting the pilot at one of their operational depots and Head Office to (approx. 500 employees). 

Our core aims were to:-

  • Raise employee awareness and opening conversations on mental health at work.
  • Improve access to support, advice and guidance.
  • Deliver employee and management awareness training.

How did you ensure that senior leaders and managers were actively engaged in the work?

  • We presented the case for change to all executive directors across the organisation and gained leadership buy in.
  • We gained support from the service director in NAS who was appointed as Project Sponsor, and took responsibility for driving the pilot programme.
  • We delivered a presentation to the senior management team in NAS to gain specific involvement and support at the table.
  • A project working group was set up with representation from all stakeholders including senior management, HR, and Trade Union representatives to support the development and implementation of our pilot.
  • We held employee Engagement sessions supported by our sponsor and senior management.
  • We delivered strong communications to employees supported by the director.

What worked? 

  • Strong buy in and consultation with leadership, management, trade unions and politicians.
  • Reporting back to leadership on the journey at meaningful points and presenting the high impact stories, gained the greatest engagement and momentum to continue.
  • Encourage leadership to ‘walk the talk’ at employee engagement events, we found this gave employees permission to engage.
  • You may find some leaders engage more than others for different reasons, welcome this support and keep communication high, even finding a role in the project to influence others.

What changes have been made since partnering with See Me?

  • Over 240 staff trained in one or more forms of mental health training.
  • Delivery of a sustainable train the trainer model for the ‘Mentally Healthy Workplace Training for managers’. Resulting in 11 trainers who can deliver continued support for managers across the council.
  • A best practice toolkit, with step by step guidance that enable services to implement their own programme.
  • A review of guidance on managing employee’s mental health in the workplace.
  • Delivery of Corporate events e.g. Time to Talk. 
  • Approval from our corporate management team and elected members for the mental health strategy to be implemented council wide.

What has the impact of this been on employees/wider business?

The pilot has already made a difference directly to our employees, their colleagues and families, our managers, HR teams and citizens through their face to face feedback.

As a result, we have had over 2000 individual engagements, half of those fact to face and through paper and online contact, relating to mental health and wellbeing across a number of activities.  Our evaluation showed this reach to be meaningful and to have made a difference to the way we work with employees relating to mental health and wellbeing, and in one case that we know, it’s been lifesaving.   

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