What are accounting firms doing to support mental wellbeing at work?

What are accounting firms doing to support mental wellbeing at work?

World Mental Health Day was only last week, but these firms have placed mental health on their agendas for all year round

What are accounting firms doing to support mental wellbeing at work?

Last week marked World Mental Health Day 2018. While this is a key day in the annual calendar designed to raise awareness of mental health, it’s important to remember that mental wellbeing is something workplaces should be thinking about all year round.

With this in mind, we interviewed different accounting firms about what they are doing to support mental wellbeing and provide for those with a mental illness, whether this is to help them manage it or guide them in getting help.

While this only covers a few firms, the breadth of different initiatives shows the accounting industry in general is sitting up and placing mental health firmly on their future agendas.

So even though there is a long way to go with one in three UK employees having a diagnosis for a mental health condition, businesses are finally realising mental wellbeing programmes are not only key for the health of their staff but the success of their organisation.

KPMG

“The health and wellbeing of our people is hugely important to us as an employer and this applies to everyone at every level in the organisation.”

KPMG offer a range of support to their staff, including online guides and training focusing on managing stress, a confidential telephone advice line, and face-to-face counselling if people need it.

Offering a variety of ways to receive help is so important. Busy lives or simple preferences could prevent people from booking face-to-face meetings but that same person could benefit hugely from finding support online.

KPMG said: “Not everyone favours a formal approach and it is essential that people are able to speak to their managers and colleagues if they need support.

“This is why we include supporting staff with wellbeing and mental health concerns in our training for managers and encourage everyone to be familiar with the support on offer. For some people a chat with a trusted colleague can make a huge difference.”

The Big Four firm also draws a strong link between physical and mental health. It offers health food in office canteens as well as flu jabs and subsidised gym memberships.

“After all a ‘one size fits all’ approach simply won’t work with wellbeing. What one person needs won’t work for the person they sit next to.”

KPMG therefore offer an initiative called ‘Intelligent working’ to their staff, including options like working from home and non-standard working hours patterns for everyone in the business.

“Our health and wellbeing offer is broad and we strive to make sure our people have as many options as possible so they can pick what works best for them.”

Grant Thornton

Top ten firm Grant Thornton signed the Employer’s Time to Change Pledge nearly a year ago and have since made incredible progress in supporting the mental health anti-stigma promise.

The agenda has key buy-in from the firm’s senior leaders, and its lead partner is Perry Burton, who has been very open with his own mental health struggles and therefore is a figurehead in tackling the stigma around the topic.

Grant Thornton said: “As a firm we are committed to creating an environment where our people feel comfortable and are able to get the support that they need to thrive.”

The firm have taken a variety of actions since signing the pledge.

They launched a wellness community, involving a group of over 80 people in 19 different offices. The community aims to raise awareness and show people where they can get help, should they need some. Activities run by the community include wellness walks, yoga, and drop-in sessions, all of which are vital in helping to normalise talking about mental health in the firm. Some offices even have wellness rooms, where any employee can go at any point should they be struggling.

Grant Thornton’s Wellness Action Plans (WAP) are used by business partners, people managers, and during initial orientation so that everyone knows what support they can get as well as learning to understand triggers.

Training for managers is also seen as key, so the firm have tools like e-learning on mental health at work, the mindful leader, and how to develop resilience. The firm is also striving to normalise and encourage discussion around mental health through internal blogs from people across the business, including business leaders.

This month, Grant Thornton has kicked off training for its first cohort of mental health first aiders, with an aim of training 64 people between October and February.

Deloitte

“Back in 2016, the firm decided to do more to help leaders spot if an employee was experiencing a mental health issue.”

Deloitte have been on a journey for the last couple of years to support their staff’s mental wellbeing in a greater way. After doing a successful trial in November 2017, they launched their plan to train at least one in four senior leaders (partners and directors) in basic mental health first aid skills through Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England.

Deloitte explained it is “a number reflecting that one in four individuals will suffer mental health problems during their lifetime. The 536 senior leaders trained so far represents a commitment from the top-down, but the intention will be to extend the skills into the whole organisation.”

Like other firms, Deloitte is also encouraging everyone in the organisation to talk about mental health, therefore reducing the stigma and supporting more people in opening up so they can manage their illness and ask for help.

This includes their ‘Are You OKAY?’ campaign, which helps people spot warning signs and encourages people to start mental health conversations. The ‘This is Me’ video campaign shows 11 colleagues telling their mental health stories, which also encourages others to speak up.

Emma Codd, managing partner for talent, at Deloitte, said: “We have taken clear and deliberate actions to make mental health and wellbeing a priority. We have worked hard to provide an open and honest culture where our people feel comfortable to bring their entire self to work. As a result, barriers are coming down in terms of the stigma around discussing mental health.”

 

 

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