By Emily Spicer
The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘anxiety’. Though a normal emotion for most of us, it can lead to a very real mental health issue. Promoting honest and open dialogue about mental health has always been a priority for me. I’ve had my own past struggles with issues like anxiety and not feeling there were many avenues to get support. I’ve since completed a Mental Health First Aider course. I’ve chosen specific wellness and mental health options when completing my CIPD diploma. All this to make sure I can provide the best possible support.
Benefits that support mental health
I want to promote and implement benefits that provide multiple avenues to support the different areas of mental health. This includes unlimited Paid Time Off (PTO). Allowing the team to rest, recover and restore without worrying about accruing or running out of days.
We also offer ‘wellness hours’ and ‘wellness days’. These benefits allow an employee to finish early or start later. This gives them more time in their personal lives or when they need to have an immediate break. These benefits show we recognise how much burnout and workplace stress can affect an employee. We want to ensure they get the work/life balance they need. We’ve also recently introduced twice-weekly guided meditations on our in-office days. This offers the team a chance to take a (literal) breather. Hopefully getting a fresh perspective on the remainder of the workday too.
Post-pandemic, it became apparent we needed to provide a much stronger offering of practical mental health support. This replaced our traditional Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which had low engagement.
That’s where Spill comes in. Spill is an integrated app to Microsoft Teams that allows all our employees immediate access to licensed therapists and resources. Employees can choose the “Ask Anything” chat function to instant message with a therapist. They also have access to set up video calls with Spill’s network of therapists at a time that suits them. Our engagement levels with Spill are 10 times more than the traditional EAP. Plus we’ve received great feedback from the team.
Even though Spill is a fantastic offering, not everyone is comfortable speaking to someone they don’t know. A line manager is often the first point of contact for the employee. Our line managers receive training to help them manage a team member who might be struggling.
As we observe this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, we will consider the progress we’ve made to make the subject of mental health less taboo in our workplace. We hope that our recent recognition from the Sunday Times as a Best Place to Work is a reflection of our efforts. At the same time, we’ll continue to encourage discussion around the topic. It is important to look for ways to support our colleagues. Not just when they are unwell, but also when they simply need a helping hand and space to talk.
Emily Spicer is an HR manager looking after our UK and German offices. With 5 years’ experience, she focuses on championing culture and employee wellbeing, as well as covering all HR generalist initiatives.