A blended learning programme is being developed for line managers by the Bank Workers Charity in partnership with MIND to progress the understanding of the importance of mental health in the workplace.
The Bank Workers Charity (BWC) is the only charity in the UK supporting current and former bank workers and their families. Much of BWC’s work is directly with banks to complement their existing wellbeing strategies. A particular focus is the area of Mental Health, which is often under resourced both nationally and by employers.
Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
Mind and BWC have jointly developed a blended learning programme for line managers to create mentally healthy workplaces. This is being piloted in four UK banks with evaluation carried out by CIPD, a credible independent body with
expertise in the area of human resources and people development.
The need for the programme was clear: seven in 10 managers have had to manage mental health problems in the workplace, yet six out of 10 had not received any relevant training, advice or information in the previous 12 months. Managers are pivotal in ensuring the successful functioning of their teams, and are often the first point of contact for an employee who is seeking support with their mental health.
The focus of the training programme is for line managers to adopt good management principles to support their team members. In this capacity, the programme goes beyond mental health awareness generation by aiming to result in lasting behavioural change to support good mental health in the workplace.
A key consideration was to ensure that the training works alongside existing strategies to address mental health within each Bank. Given the busy schedule of bank workers, the training needed to be as time-efficient as possible without compromising the quality of course content. It was also anticipated that training line managers would be more cost-effective than training all employees.
Run over the course of a year, the pilot training programmes offers a framework to aid understanding on how to support staff, including guidance on having open conversations about mental health problems and fostering a positive culture around mental wellbeing. Training includes initial face-to-face training sessions followed by ‘bite size’ webinars and access to a digital toolkit and resources, with follow-up guidance taking place over 12 months via email.
Evaluation of the training assessed the impact it had on managers’ observed behaviour and attitudes, job satisfaction, organisational culture and self-reported mental health, as well as KPI data around performance and absence rates.
Even at the interim stage, results have been really positive. 99% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that their knowledge of mental health had increased as a result of the face–to-face training, and nearly 85% had been able to apply the lessons from the online training in their day-to-day jobs.
Results also showed improvement in managers’ awareness and behaviour, with more managers feeling comfortable speaking to employees about managing their mental health in the workplace.
There was a 10% increase in employees who said that they would feel comfortable speaking to their line manager about mental health and there was also an increase in the number of employees across all four banks who felt it was okay to talk openly about mental health.
While the impact of the programme on reducing sickness absence - and specifically mental health related sickness absence - will become more apparent over the longer term, the programme has already seen substantial benefits in terms of improving employee wellbeing.
The final report is expected to be published in Spring 2016
Learn more about the Bank Workers Charity >>