How we‘re empowering our people to thrive – a National Grid story
Chief Engineer and Chief Risk Officer at National Grid
Mental Health at Work have been working with National Grid to help them support the mental health of their employees, through the Mental Health at Work Commitment.
Below National Grid talk about their journey so far, and share their tips and advice for creating a mentally healthy workplace for all staff.
A thriving working environment is one in which health and wellbeing is a number one priority. Shifting our perspective from the treatment of symptoms to a more preventative approach has the potential to empower our colleagues and enable them to thrive. Recognising the impact of external pressures such as the cost-of-living crisis on mental health is key, but by providing people with the tools and knowledge they need to help them to manage difficult situations can reap dividends.
The scale of the mental health problem in the UK never ceases to surprise me and yet there remains to be a stigma surrounding it. Earlier this year, I remember reading the results of a startling study from Axa UK called the Mind Health study[i] which showed that almost half the country (47%) stated that they were suffering from negative mental health.
We’re challenging stigma
Here at National Grid, we have conducted our own research to understand and better support the mental health of our staff, taking part in two cycles of the Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index. Although we were aware that more work needs to be done to build awareness and challenge the stigma of mental health, we were surprised to learn through the Index that just 27% of our colleagues feel comfortable discussing mental health at work.
Needless to say, we never rest on our laurels and are constantly challenging our thinking and asking colleagues what more we can do to support them.
Back in 2019, National Grid signed the Mental Health at Work Commitment and since then has been working hard to smash through the mental health stigmas.
Designed for organisations of all sizes from all sectors, the Mental Health at Work Commitment is a simple framework that builds on what we know about good workplace wellbeing. Currently, over 2,912 organisations are signed up and working towards the six standards – supporting the mental health of over five million employees.
Implementing new strategies to help all staff thrive
Since we signed the Commitment, so much has changed in the business environment, not least because of the pandemic. We recognise that mental health is as unique as the individual, and that a one size fits all approach won’t work and will continue to work hard to meet the needs of all colleagues.
For us this has meant developing more flexible working strategies, continuing the hybrid-working model and removing the stress of having to choose between professional and personal commitments. Like so many work environments, the office had once been a space to share content and resources, but that had to change so that remote workers could access the same resources and feel part of conversation.
Our colleagues now have access to a wealth of information and resources 24/7. This not only includes the more traditional offerings such as occupational health, physiotherapy, and Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) but also some enhancements. Since signing the Mental Health at Work Commitment, we have shifted our focus onto more proactive approaches to colleague health and wellbeing, which has included the launch of the Thrive app across our UK businesses, in 2022.
Further resources, study options and educational content is also developed and shared across the business about domestic abuse, menopause, period poverty and neurodiversity. We’re doing this to remove some of the myths and barriers to acceptance and awareness.
Putting our employees front and centre
Our ambition is called Thriving Together, recognising that people are our most important asset. As we work towards the energy transition and the UK’s goal of net zero, this has the potential to impact our mental and physical health.
That’s why our health and wellbeing ambition is designed to enable people to thrive. It focuses on prevention and the deployment of resources and activities to support healthy lifestyle choices and promote optimum health. This move to a proactive intervention model is in addition to our existing safety principles, the bedrock to our Stand up for Safety campaign.
As part of this activity, we launch our ‘Safe to Say’ philosophy, a commitment we live by, encouraging colleagues to speak up about issues that have the potential to impact their physical and mental wellbeing.
Since we signed the Mental Health at Work Commitment in 2019, we have also developed and mandated mental health e-learning for all UK managers. To date, 87%of our managers have completed the training with more to come. We have also been encouraging senior leaders to share their mental health stories and how they’ve dealt with difficult periods in their lives.
Our goal is for health and wellbeing to be at the heart of our safety strategy and be as visible as physical safety on site. This is a commitment not only to National Grid colleagues, but also contractors working across construction sites throughout the UK. Thriving Together highlights that health and safety is everyone’s responsibility and every voice and individual matters. By encouraging colleagues to get involved, we can support all our staff to thrive.
The Mental Health at Work Commitment is based on the Thriving at Work standards, uses up-to-date research, and pulls from existing pledges and standards out there already – so it’s the only roadmap you need to follow to achieve better mental health at work. Find out more and sign here.
To help you put the Commitment into action, Mental Health at Work have developed a series of resources as a starting point. You can also join our Peer Platform for additional support for others on their Commitment journey.