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Embracing the Elephant

Category: Mental Health, Health and Wellbeing, Cambridge Assessment, Wellness Centre, Employee Wellbeing, Employee Support

Red background, with white text overlaid spelling Mental Health.

Embracing the Elephant

Fear prevents an individual from realising their true potential; it paralyses them and distorts the sense of judgement they have of themselves and those around them. On a macro and micro level, the fear of mental health stands as a white elephant in the room for many employers as well as employees. As a society, our understanding of mental health is only now in the early stages of development, although slowly but surely, that fear is beginning to dissipate. Businesses now face a watershed moment where they either embrace the plethora of new and innovative ways of improving employee wellbeing and gain access to the benefits of doing so, or simply ignore them, either completely, or by using a superficial and tokenistic approa

From an economic perspective, the data is very clear; fully investing in employee wellbeing is a highly profitable affair. The return on investment of a multi-intervention employee health and well-being programme is a staggering 9 to 1 (based on an £80 investment per employee). In an organisation of 500 employees, the impact of an investment of £40,000 will lead to a total saving of £387,222, due to both a reduction in absence and presenteeism¹. From a financial perspective therefore, it is understandable and very logical why many businesses are embracing the elephant rather than ignoring its presence and are taking the matter seriously.

Cambridge Assessments move to The Triangle Building is now complete and our new Health and Well-being Centre is open to our employees. Along with offering a range of fitness classes and clubs, rowing machines and even a music room, the centre also offers a Chiropractor and even a Personal Trainer who can help you put together a 6-week exercise and meal plan. The Triangle building recently won the British Council for Offices' (BCO) regional award and the Centre had a large part to play in this. Rob van Zyl, building services partner at Cundall and chair of the Midlands & Central England judging panel noted that it was The Triangle Buildings: “dedication to occupiers’ health and wellbeing and their businesses’ productivity.” that helped win the award and that: “The strong link between wellbeing of the workforce and productivity of their businesses is now undeniable”.

Last year the team recruited and trained volunteers from throughout Cambridge Assessment to become Healthy Mind Ambassadors. These individuals are now able to offer help and support to employees seeking Mental Health advice. Along with a whole host of others plans, this year the team will be rolling out a new set of training courses to all employees. I met with Dianne Muir, the Health and Wellbeing Coordinator for Cambridge Assessment, who gave me some details about the upcoming training plan: “Line Managers will be offered three training sessions on Mental Health Awareness, Critical Conversations, and Tools and Support. The core modules will be complemented by a series of wellbeing masterclasses, focusing on specific topics to further their knowledge, such as Depression and Anxiety and Resilience. All of our staff will also be invited to attend a 60-minute introductory course on mental health, and will be able to book onto additional masterclasses on topics of interest to them.”

In a survey by Mind, the mental health charity, 56 per cent of employers stated that they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but did not feel they had the right training or guidance². The information and training is out there but for an organisation to embrace the elephant and reap the rewards, it seems to be a question of whether it has a genuine interest in, along with a proactive approach towards looking for and allowing access to it. Perhaps in this modern age, a moral responsibility to employees at all levels of an organisation is one of the defining factors that separates those businesses that stagnate and those that flourish.

We would very much welcome your thoughts on wellbeing in the work place so please feel free to leave comments below. Finally, a very large thank you to my colleague Edward Butler for his help with this article.

References: 1. Mills P, Kessler R,Cooper J, Sullivan S (2007) Impact of a health promotion program on employee health risks and work productivity. American Journal of Health Promotion 22:45–53. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/215626/dh_126386.pdf

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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