Operating in a high-risk sector, Royal IHC clearly has a safety and health first mind-set. This is translated into daily practice, with support to management, supervisors and employees. Alongside the SHEQ-team, HR Director Jane Hudson encourages and facilitates further health issue integration in corporate policies and practices. To us, offering mental health and wellbeing services is an important way to safeguard our people, create a safe workplace culture and set our business up for future success.
The COVID-19 pandemic is more than a physical health issue - it’s a mental-health matter fuelled by peoples’ concern for themselves, their families and the unstable economy’, Jane says. ‘Such challenges can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions. Measures such as social distancing are necessary to reduce the spread of the virus, but they can make us feel isolated and generate high anxiety levels. When Corona hit, Royal IHC already had multiple mental health initiatives in place that help us deal with the unprecedented challenges before us.’ A position to help HR Director, Jane Hudson has worked at Royal IHC for over 14 years, supporting all business units in the UK and some in The Netherlands. ‘When a colleague committed suicide a few years ago, we decided that we wanted to do more for mental health wellbeing. For many people, the way they are treated by their manager makes a huge difference to how they feel about themselves and their work. Furthermore, managers are in the best possible position to identify stress and anxiety, and to step in to help. Therefore, we wanted to create a culture where people feel comfortable talking about mental health. We introduced training to raise awareness and encourage our staff to develop their skills through better understanding of mental health.
Mental health issues are extremely common – in fact you may be surprised by some of the statistics To help raise awareness and share tips on managing these problems as well as advice about where to seek further help, we have launched a mental health booklet which was issued to all staff. Next step is to train colleagues to become Mental Health Advocates. We also launched an Employee Assistance Program to connect employees with confidential, professional support, by telephone or face to face. Furthermore, we have organized Miss Menopause Sessions to educate managers on what female colleagues may go through and how to help and support them. These are some of the initiatives we have undertaken to promote better understanding of mental health issues.
Jane thinks that workplace and mental health is even more relevant in these challenging times, when companies need to use every tool available to ensure their productivity and competitiveness. ‘For quite some years, Royal IHC Ltd has been accredited with the Silver Level of the Better Health at Work Award as a result of recognising and addressing health issues in the workplace.
STAYING CONNECTED WHILE WORKING REMOTELY
All the things we had in place helped us to deal with the unprecedented levels of stress created by the pandemic. We also built on this by adding elements such as mental health and well-being tool box talks, surveys, Ask Twice safety shares, weekly check-in calls with SHEQ team and also we used our internal internet to bring staff closer together by way of using working from home pictures, monthly staff quiz, celebrating achievements etc.