Reflections on 2022 and looking ahead to 2023, from our Commitment Signees
Senior Content Officer, Mental Health at Work
As we reach the end of the year, many of us take the time to reflect on what went well this year, what could have gone better, and what we want to do to improve for next year.
Here at Mental Health at Work, we’ve had a year of ups and downs. We’re delighted to have had our 2000th organisation sign up to the Mental Health at Work Commitment (find out more about that here), and we’re pleased to see so many UK employers keen to explore ways of improving mental health in their workplaces.
But we’re also had tough times. Many organisations are facing financial difficulties as they tackle inflation, rising energy costs, and the impact of strikes – and often it’s smaller organisations facing the toughest challenges. We know financial worries can have a big impact on your mental wellbeing.
That’s why we’ve decided that we’re going to be increasing our focus on For the third year running, Mental Health at Work is proud to have been a charity partner of the SME National Business Awards, championing small and medium sized organisations across the country. Their kind donation to the Mental Health at Work programme will enable us to further support SME’s, providing tools and tips to help them make a positive change where they work, and sharing real-life stories to connect and inspire.in 2023. We’re still going to be here for employers of any size, but we want to do more for those who are most in need of some extra support.
We wanted to find out what 2022 has meant to these organisations who employ less than 50 people, so we reached out to these smaller employers who have already signed up to the into the New Year.. We asked what they have learned this year, and what they will be taking forward
Those who hide it well can suffer the most - Kate, Hue Imbued Consultancy Limited
Lots of organisations told us that helping people towas their key to better employee wellbeing. Steven from EC Safety Solutions said that while stigma surrounding mental health had improved somewhat, it still seemed to be a factor in whether someone decided to talk about their feelings or not. And Lee from Export Case Co Ltd explained that helping people talk had been key to improving their employee’s wellbeing this year.
It is important that staff know that their mental wellbeing is taken seriously by the company that employs them - Rachel, JCSys Ltd
In order to help staff feel comfortable seeking help, they need to know their organisation will be on their side. We saw many organisations who focused on creating a supportive atmosphere so staff felt safe and comfortable when reaching out. Leanne told us that Tenders UK had worked hard on creating an open dialogue with all staff about mental health issues and their options for support, and that has made a huge difference to people feeling able to come forward with issues and us being able to support far earlier. “This has led to a much healthier culture and conversation around mental health at work,” she said.
But Ashlea from Darwen Electrical Services Ltd pointed out that it’s important not to take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. “Not everyone willduring times of struggle,” she said. At Synergy Learning, Tory explains that they tackle this by having regular check-ins with team members – even those who appear to be doing fine. That way, nobody gets left behind.
Use the resources and let staff know where to access help and what is available to them. Listen to everyone. Keep on developing and improving what is on offer - Catherine, Medilink Midlands
Lots of organisations had big plans for mental health in their workplaces in the coming year, but you might find getting started on your journey can be a challenge. James at Cumbira CVS said that signing the Commitment had been a great first step for his organisation. “It’s fine to start from any point, but the pledge makes it easy to move forward,” he said. “Staff will readily engage as a team in doing the pledge and actions, and people are more aware of Mental Health than you think. Get your Senior Management Team on board from the start to make changes easy.”
Roisin from Forkers Limited praised theprogramme, stating it was the “best training we ever put employees on.”
“We have seen the benefits in all aspects of our business since we started on this journey seven years ago,” she said. “This is a journey that you need to make sure all key decision makers in your company are buying into as well, you want to make sure you embed it into the foundations of your company.”
Here are some great tops tips from other small organisations:
- Start small, but make it regular. Set aside an hour a month ( or a week is even better) dedicated to mental health. Encourage people to use the time to , a massage, yoga, meditate – anything that helps to boost the happy hormones – Lauren, Transform Lives Company
- Have a designated Mental Health Lead if possible, and have staff members who are willing to contribute towards a wellbeing team – Louise, Oak Green School
- Develop a mental health and wellbeing plan or policy so it is clear the things that you are offering and organising for staff wellbeing – Lynette, Mind In Haringey
- Let the team know who the Mental Health First Aider is, and make it clear we are here to listen and help in any way possible – Avril, Tweed Wealth Management
- Sign the Mental Health at Work Commitment and ensure you share information so colleagues know when, where and how to seek support – Daxa, IMD Solicitors LLP
- People mostly over pressurise themselves – so help them to know what they don’t need to do – Karen, MP Limited
We received so many contributions that we couldn’t include them all here. But we created this word cloud from the responses. The bigger a word is, the more often it appeared in the tips and advice small businesses gave us.
It’s heartening to see words like ‘caring’, ‘kind’, ‘happy’ and ‘understanding’ lighting up the word cloud. We hope these values are going to set the tone for employers in 2023, helping bring about a compassionate workplace where everybody feels supported to talk about their mental wellbeing.
A huge thank you to all of our contributors. And, from our team to yours, a very happy holiday season and best wishes for the New Year.