Mental health, the workplace and you

Marco Pezzani, national customer service director and executive sponsor for mental health & wellbeing at Ricoh UK, shares his thoughts on the role and responsibility work has in tackling poor mental health

World Mental Health Day provided the opportunity to focus on ‘wellbeing in an unequal world’.

This is a chance to reflect on how far D&I initiatives have come, the work left to do, and how we need to create a holistic approach to improving overall wellbeing.

In the context of the current climate, it’s more important than ever to take a step back from the day-to-day and consider the bigger picture.

Our global mission is to help individuals feel fulfilled and lead purposeful working lives.

In practical terms, this means that employers must be mindful that work is only one aspect of an employee’s life and that their people may be facing unseen challenges that may impact on their mental health.

Any organisation is only as strong as its people, all of whom have their own stories, difficulties and strengths. For employers, it’s important to understand that dealing with mental health can be a long road and there often isn’t an immediate fix.

Accepting this and taking a long-term view by providing support through implementing initiatives focused on wellbeing and mental health can help to open up conversations and remove stigma.

Mental health and the workplace

Thankfully, the stigma around mental health in the workplace is beginning to become a thing of the past. However, having a day dedicated to awareness of the effects of poor mental health can act as a friendly reminder of what we can do to be aware of, and assist those suffering with, mental health challenges.

Work has an important role to play in creating a space, both physical and psychological, where everyone can be their true self and feel free to share difficulties and problems, should they wish to do so.
The rise in remote and hybrid working has made this even more challenging for employers, which raises an important question:

How do employers do this?

First and foremost, you must make employee wellbeing a priority. This may sound obvious, but it can be easy for the best-laid plans to become words and not actions. Developing platforms and strategies which help employees manage hybrid working and prioritise their wellbeing can have tangible impact.

Here are three tips we have implemented at Ricoh:

1. Define the tools and technology needed
As we all know, the way we work has changed. Technology is an important element of making hybrid working possible and the key to giving employees the best digital experience to support their wellbeing and development. Without investing in technology to aid communication and collaboration, your people cannot truly excel in a hybrid working environment and achieve fulfilment through work.

2. Communicate regularly and openly
Nobody likes to be left in the dark, especially if they’re feeling anxious or uncertain. Managers have a key role to play, and regular one-to-one conversations with their teams can help combat isolation and loneliness. This is particularly important when teams are distributed across the office and remote locations. Reaching out to your colleagues can help put in place support before anyone even needs it.

3. Signpost mental health and wellbeing platforms
Recent statistics from Gartner’s global 2021 EVP Benchmarking Survey highlight that, although 87% of employees have access to mental and emotional wellbeing platforms, only 23% of employees use them. It’s the responsibility of management to ensure your people know they have platforms and tools that can help them prioritise how they’re feeling and the challenges they’re facing.

Any organisation is only as strong as its people, all of whom have their own stories, difficulties and strengths

Implementing support

While recognising that more can be done to support on mental health, there comes a point where practical, on-the-ground support needs to be rolled out. Within this, it’s also important to consider that while people may be in need of help, they may not necessarily be ready to reach out and ask for it.

As an organisation, providing opportunities for your people to reach out to others in the business who may be able to help them maintain their wellbeing or manage mental health concerns is key.

At Ricoh, we have in place commitments to support employees, across all levels, with their mental health, as and when they need it.

Initiatives such as the Mental Health at Work Commitment… Endorsed by both Business in the Community and Mind, these are a set of actions for organisations to follow to improve, support mental health and to create a culture which promotes and supports the health and wellbeing of our colleagues.

Alongside this, we’ve also developed The Wellbeing Champions programme, which provides training to selected employees to provide their colleagues with mental health first aid. Wellbeing Champions can be the first point of contact for those who need help or someone to talk to and can provide signposts to further help as necessary.

Our Wellbeing Hub has also been a huge benefit to our business, culture and people. It’s a central hub where people can access resources, tools and training, including the free-to-use and confidential ‘Employee Assistance Programme’, for help with any personal, health, financial or other problems.

Finally, we launched the Everymind Wellbeing app, a mobile application available for all employees to download, designed to provide tailored, individual experience and 24/7 support.

Work has an important role to play in creating a space, both physical and psychological, where everyone can be their true self

Understanding the now

Cliches are cliches for a reason – because they’re generally true. One of the latest additions to the cliche store cupboard is the now familiar ‘uncertain times…’

But the truth is, these are uncertain times.

And with uncertain times can come mental hardship.

The cost of living crisis can, and inevitably will, cause stress and anxiety for many. And for those already dealing with their mental health, it can become all too overwhelming.

In recognition of this, we’ve introduced a range of initiatives specifically designed to support financial wellbeing, including a 30-minute free consultation with an independent financial advisor. Giving all employees access to the MyEva app (which helps with financial planning), this is currently used by a third of our employees – well above the average for a company the size of Ricoh. This is as well as producing internal guidance and signposting to useful resources, tips and ideas on helping with the cost of living.

We also offer access to ‘Elements Everyday’ which provides discounts and benefits across a range of products and services on everyday purchases, including fuel cards for discounted fuel for those travelling into the office. Not only does this help encourage our people to travel to the office, should they wish to do so, but ensures this doesn’t impact the cost savings they are making on not using the energy at home.

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