Mental Health and Thriving at Work Commitment

By Brad Taylor, Director of People and OD at the CIPD.

Within organisations across the UK, there is a growing need to support the mental health of their employees. In the last year, 39% of UK employees experienced mental-ill-health where work was a contributing factor.

Organisations need to take responsibility and put in place the necessary support for their employees. To show our commitment to doing this at the CIPD, this week we have signed up to the Mental Health at Work Commitment.

The commitment is a way of publicly declaring that mental health is a priority issue for an organisation. It’s made up of six individual standards; each paves the way for organisations to create workplace environments and cultures that support the mental health of their employees.

How are we meeting these standards at the CIPD? I’ve outlined the six standards below and what we’re doing within each to meet our commitment.

1. Getting senior leaders on board

Our internal and employee-led mental health and well-being group is sponsored by our Director of Membership. The group works to raise awareness of well-being issues and ensure the necessary support is in place. The well-being action group also works with the internal diversity and inclusion steering group, which was established by the Director of People and OD.

As an organisation we also provide a healthy two-course lunch for employees in our on-site canteen, a good chance to get away from the screen for a meal and have a catch up with colleagues if you wish.  Leaders actively encourage our people to take full lunch-breaks. The CIPD also promotes flexible and sensible working hours.

2. Raise awareness of mental health

The CIPD celebrates key dates in the mental health calendar, and our leaders are encouraged to comment and engage on the topic via internal communication channels.

Our employee-led mental health and well-being group also do a huge amount of work to raise awareness of key issues. A recent health and well-being day provided free mindfulness sessions, dog therapy, nutrition and exercise classes and more.

3. Involve staff in dialogue and decision making to create a culture of openness.

We involve staff in a range of ways. We run constant ‘pulse’ surveys, where employees can share feedback and concerns. A number of CIPD employees are also nominated as ‘mental-health champions’ – and act as a point-of-call for employees who want to raise issues.

A number of employees also participate in Sounding Board sessions. These act as an open forum for employees to raise and convey areas of concern, as well as to ask questions of leaders.

Over 90% of our people took part in sessions to help form our new business values. These sessions allowed for open and honest conversations around the values we aim to exhibit within the organisation. These sessions culminated with a recent values day, where employees were able to share and explore together.

4. Promote a healthy work/life balance.

We provide flexible and remote working opportunities, allowing our people to work in a way that suits them and allows them to be at their most productive. Our head office also has managed opening times that discourage excessive working hours.

Our head office also has dedicated break out zones on each floor, which give our people a space to take breaks when needed. We also work to avoid a weekend working culture, and actively encourage employees to take their full holiday leave.

5. Provide opportunities for learning and development.

The CIPD provides a wide range of learning opportunities which include design thinking, systems leadership and unconscious bias, etc. We also provide LinkedIn learning for all employees, which gives them access to further relevant knowledge and information. Aside from this, we also provide secondment opportunities.

6. Offer positive working relationships and social connections.

We regularly work to ensure our policies on this are refreshed and remain relevant. Our Diversity and Inclusion steering group encourages social connection and inclusivity across the business. There are also a number of clubs and social occasions which operate out-of-work hours.

The social intranet acts as a space for sharing and conversation among employees, and recently we have introduced ‘ask me anything’ and ‘lunchtime-learning’ sessions with senior leaders. Here we encourage all employees to come along and interact with colleagues and leaders in an open environment.

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