The researchers behind the Healthy Workplace Ireland survey say there is more work to be done in terms of gauging the benefit to employers of investing in their workforce’s mental health. Paula McCann, a HR manager at accountancy firm Crowleys DFK, believes the return on the range of services it provides to staff has been clear, however.
The company, which has 115 employees at offices in Cork and Dublin, put in place a workplace mental wellbeing policy in 2018. Tailored training for the company’s managers is a key element of its approach and it also organises seminars featuring guest speakers addressing mental health issues and a range of practical supports, including the promotion of physical activity and nutrition advice.
“We have rolled out a wide range of initiatives across things like mental health, leadership, health and safety, physical activity and nutrition. It’s very comprehensive. But mental health has been a huge focus, we’re quite proud of that.
“A lot of what we do is intended to help break down the stigma that has traditionally been associated with mental health issues and we encourage everyone to talk to us if they need to.
“Managers have a lot of one-to-one meetings with staff and as a company we have a lot of engagement generally,” she says.
In addition to implementing the workplace mental wellbeing policy, the company has “an enhanced employee assistance programme to all employees and their families”.
This includes a confidential 24/7 counselling service provided by Laya Healthcare, which allows employees to discuss work, financial pressures, family or other issues. “We work to ensure everybody knows about the service and that it is entirely confidential, which is obviously very important to people,” she says.
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In terms of work practices, the company has settled into a hybrid working model since Covid-19 initially forced everyone to work from home. Departments now have a day a week when everyone is expected to come in and work together while employees are free to choose the second day on which they attend the office.
“We’re finding that it’s achieving a good balance,” she says. “People being in the office for two days facilitates teamwork but there is a lot of flexibility too in terms of people being able to choose what other day works for them,” she adds.
There is also a right-to-disconnect policy and year-round early finish on Fridays.
The feedback, she says, has been very positive, adding that one of the charities which staff fundraise for is Aware, a support services for those with mental health problems.