Comment: Why it’s time to change in the workplace

Denise Bridges, managing director at Albatross Travel, explains why the company has joined more than 700 UK companies in taking the Time to Change Employer Pledge.

Over the past few years mental health has been brought much more into the open, with Royals and high-profile celebrities championing the cause.

It can be argued that as far as dealing with mental health issues is concerned nowhere is more important than the workplace and yet so often these issues are ignored or simply misunderstood.

That’s why this month Albatross Group signed up to the Time to Change Employer Pledge, joining with some 700 other UK companies in showing our commitment to change how we think and act about mental health in the workplace.

As a group, we have increased our focus on health and wellbeing over the last couple of years. There is still more we can and would like to do.

We felt Time to Change fitted perfectly with the desire to help our people improve their health and wellbeing and would work well with the Employee Assistance Programme that we introduced last year.

Wellbeing forms part of our company’s People Strategy as in our view, the healthier and happier our people are, the more productive they are able to be at work.

With one in four British workers being affected by mental illness, we want to proactively help our people focus on prevention.

When our mental wellbeing is good we are able to cope with life’s difficulties and enjoy life as we should. But sometimes we can become overwhelmed and when this happens it is really important to talk.

Under the Albatross Employee Assistance Programme our people can access confidential and expert help and support to enable them to deal with personal and professional problems that could be affecting their performance, productivity, home life, health and general wellbeing.

The programme offers 24-hour telephone support and face-to-face counselling, as well as a wellbeing web portal with self-help tools, videos and articles.

When Time to Change was brought to our attention we decided to sign up as it encouraged people to talk and listen more openly about mental health issues.

In order to take the pledge we were required to submit an action plan, which was reviewed and approved, showing what we intended to do as a company to support our people and ensure we were focused on tangible actions that would bring lasting change.

Our action plan included training a group of Time to Change Champions in the business who will help us to create a working environment that is supportive and understanding towards employees experiencing mental health problems.

The aim is to slowly work through the action plan and share information, help, guidance and resources provided by Time to Change and other organisations.

Time to Change has workshops, for example, that can be run in a relaxed environment during lunch breaks.

If, through these initiatives, we can suceed in getting mental health more talked about in the workplace, end the stigma that can be attached to it and provide help and support to our people in terms of dealing with it, then it can only be a good thing.