Office manager, Marie Errington discusses employee wellbeing

Wellbeing is something we can take for granted.

One in four people in the UK are affected by mental health at some point in their lives. Yet, even in today’s current climate, we are reluctant to talk about it for fear of stigma or repercussions.

We all experience times when we, as individuals, or people around us, need help and support. This can take many forms. A personal, family or financial issue, coping with bereavement, a medical condition or experiencing feelings of loneliness.

Mindfulness is very often neglected and only becomes a priority when it starts affecting us physically or impacting on our everyday lives.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, we are not alone in these shared human experiences and we can overcome these issues by supporting each other and not being afraid to talk openly and honestly about our feelings or fears.

On a personal level, mindfulness was something which I took for granted over the years. However, through my own experiences over the past twelve months and the impact of the pandemic on those around me, not only has it been the catalyst for me to stop and review my own personal relationship with mindfulness but also to try to help, support and encourage the people around me to open up and talk about it.

We each need to take the time to nourish our minds and to stop, let go, reframe our thoughts and recharge our batteries. That could be through meditation or relaxation techniques, stepping outside or away from our desks, having a cup of coffee, getting sufficient rest, talking to each other or simply acknowledging when we need to ask for help and additional support.

During the last year, our SHEQ manager James Rolt, managing director, John Sayers and myself, have supported colleagues by maintaining regular communications with them, whether via team meetings or one-to-one sessions, encouraging colleagues to spread their workloads and ask for help if they feel they need extra support.

Prior to the first lockdown, wellbeing was encouraged and monitored through regular sessions with our occupational health provider, on a monthly basis.  OH3 is our appointed SEQOHS accredited occupational health provider and has supported us and the wellbeing of our colleagues by managing new starter health assessments, undertaking safety critical worker assessments, health surveillance, drug and alcohol testing and sickness absence.

During the pandemic support from OH3 continued by referring individuals through a Coronavirus support package. This referral service is available to employees who feel they need to speak to an external contact, with two telephone appointments available with a BACP Accredited Counsellor, providing a confidential listening service, where staff can talk through the impact Coronavirus is having on them and express their worries in a supportive environment.

The first appointment focuses on strategies to cope with the worries colleagues may have.

The second, is a follow up to check the individual is managing to put the coping strategies into practice effectively and to build on the strategies.

In addition to OH3, we also promote external resources including the Construction Industry Helpline Card, issued to all our operatives. Should they be in need of support, they can ring the helpline, which is managed and funded by the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, which has been delivering charitable welfare and support to the construction community since 1956.

To highlighting wellbeing across our sites, we have utilised poster awareness campaigns through organisations including ‘Mates in Mind’, to highlight the importance of mental health.  ‘Mates in Mind’ is a registered UK charity raising awareness and addressing the stigma of poor mental health with the aim of promoting positive wellbeing across the workplace.

Hopefully, by taking the time now to shine a light on wellbeing and the support available through the business and other resources, not only will we support our employees but our wider stakeholders, so we can help to create a healthier, happier and more informed workplace, where people can learn to cope with an imponderable world.