Building mental wellbeing into business culture

Anglepoise was thrilled to be awarded first place at the Solent Business Awards, for the inaugral Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing award. There was tough opposition and some big companies in the category, making it even more rewarding to receive recognition in this important area, writes James Wakley, director of finance and operations at Anglepoise.

John Purnell, MD (speaking immediately after receiving the award): “It takes time to build wellbeing into your business culture and we try to do it from the start at recruitment, and through things like team talks and information sharing. We also recognise that wellbeing isn’t just about work, but also at home. We make it personal by talking about it openly because that’s the only way to end stigma around mental health.”

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For Anglepoise, health safety and mental wellbeing is all about mind-set –it starts from our personal and company values.

All employees’ inductions include our Time to Change pledge followed with knowledge (through training) creating habits and routines creating a culture of wellness.

We don’t “put on a health-and-safety-wellbeing hat” at work, it’s with us all the time. This is true for physical activities but especially so with mental health and the knock on benefit to our families and friends.

From recruitment, wellbeing permeates through Anglepoise’ culture with safety instructions and business procedures.

Anglepoise was an early adopter of the time-to-change pledge, to end mental health discrimination, with our joint MDs Simon Terry and John Purnell signing the pledge back in September 2017, then actioning a plan to truly make it part of our culture.

We hold bi-monthly (well attended) voluntary ‘Tea & Talk’ sessions, generally starting with a Ted talk/Mind video, then opening the floor for discussions around mental health/wellbeing.

Directors and employees talk openly about personal issues past and present, without stigma or any thought of reproach. Having directors discuss their personal issues gives reassurance to employees they’re in a safe environment to talk openly should they wish, however, ‘tea & listen’ is fine.

Every employee has the opportunity to partake in a mindfulness course, with high engagement:

  • Oxford University (eight days) two people
  • Ascot Mindfulness (two days) two people
  • British Quality Foundation – BQF – (one day) seven people
  • Anglepoise (BQF trainer on site, one day) 12 people.

Anglepoise fully funded the above courses, for the benefit of the employee attending.

Anglepoise has an annual training allowance of £400 per employee; this can be for job specific or wellbeing/mental-health-related courses.

We undertake an annual wellness survey from Time to Change, with very positive feedback from all employees on mental health support and culture.

Every employee has an annual appraisal, and bi-monthly (more informal) one to one’s, to discuss issues they have professionally and personally.

A number of employees are mentored by senior managers, assisting with professional development, but just as importantly any personal issues they may have.

One employee was helped from a depressive suicidal state (personal, family and financial issues) back to being a happy engaged member of the team, receiving heartfelt thanks from the employee’s partner.

Anglepoise was proud to sponsor Steuart Padwick’s sculpture Head Above Water which stood as a symbol of hope, bravery, compassion and positivity next to the Thames, to remove the stigma of mental illness.

We’re proud to have won a ROSPA occupational health and safety gold award, three years in a row.

All employees are provided an online support network, for financial and mental health assistance, administered by Perkbox and funded by Anglepoise.

Anglepoise truly believes mental health and wellbeing has to be part of your business DNA. All Anglepoise directors actively promote openness and honesty around this vital subject.

In short, our mental health is as important as our physical health. We believe we should talk about mental health and wellbeing in same way we talk about a broken arm or sore throat; be kind to yourself and look out for each other…

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