Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.
Factsheet for measure GB-2020-12/1551 – measures in United Kingdom
|Country||United Kingdom , applies nationwide|
|Time period||Open ended, started on 19 March 2020|
Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Well-being of workers
|Author||Claire Evans (Warwick University) and Eurofound|
|Measure added||02 December 2020 (updated 02 February 2021)|
The Mental Health Matters (MHM) charity is a nationwide charity providing support to those with mental health needs. Its services include helplines and ‘talking therapies’ provided to supported housing and safe havens. These are run by more than 400 staff across the UK. Unsurprisingly, it has seen increased demand during the crisis, so ensuring staff still take breaks at home and offering internal wellbeing webinars has been key.
For MHM, the safety and wellbeing of its employees was paramount as the pandemic hit. With a spotlight shone on the country's mental wellbeing during lockdown, MHM remained open to support those in need. However, the charity had to “be creative” about how it would deliver these vital services safely.
Luckily a good IT infrastructure, combined with most staff already having work-suitable laptops and phones, saw the MHM team working remotely to full capacity within 48 hours of lockdown being announced. Aside from those working in supported housing, all MHM staff are working remotely, with no staff furloughed or plans to furlough staff.
MHM is also in the process – with the help of the NHS – of setting up secure software to avoid hackers gaining access to confidential online therapy sessions.
MHM expected an increased demand for its services, and when lockdown was announced, the HR team turned their attention to employee health and wellbeing – especially for those taking crisis calls and offering emotional support to people in need. For example, all support line workers taking crisis calls are encouraged to take breaks while in the office. However, given the shift to homeworking, there was concern that employees would miss out on that time to decompress between calls.
Thus, HR compiled wellbeing packs, which were delivered to all employees. These contained a reminder about the charity's Employee Assistance Programme and how to access it, as well as tips for working from home, alongside stress-busting and wellbeing tips to reflect social distancing. The charity also paired up with an external provider to give employees access to online therapies including CBT and stress management. HR also started a weekly newsletter called Wellbeing Wednesday. The charity's L&D function has also run a series of webinars to help spread the wellbeing message for employees., focusing on emotional resilience, stress, anxiety, wellbeing and transformative learning.
Managers have also been involved in internal webinars on the remote management of staff wellbeing - how to have challenging conversations and then in general just how to manage people remotely. These were so well-received that the charity has started providing external webinars for other organisations wanting to improve their wellbeing training offering.
At the start of lockdown, MHM was already in the process of opening two new facilities in Staffordshire and Kent, which meant the team had to induct and train more than 25 members of staff virtually. IT and phone equipment were couriered to the new employees. The charity also changed all of its 'onboarding' processes to be via Teams and telephone. New starters were given one-to-one calls to ensure they were OK, as well as being talked through the charity's systems and the HR/payroll portal.
The organisation’s external emotional support hotline – which received more than 65,000 calls and 3,000 web chats last year – has experienced increased demand during the pandemic. As a result, MHM is currently still recruiting for hotline support workers. For both new inductees and those yet to join the charity, there is a series of compliance-based training modules to complete. This consists of 12 units, such as professional boundaries, mental health awareness and lone worker safety. Usually, these would be done face to face but they have now all moved onto the e-learning portal. Employees are however asked to stagger their learning so that they don't overload. The system has a built-in alert if a zealous employee completes too many at once.
The charity's 400 workers are covered by the new measures. The latter are focused on ensuring wellbeing in the face of the increased demand associated with the pandemic. There is no evaluation of effectiveness available, given that these are in-house measures and will not be in the public domain.
Employees in standard employment
||Does not apply to businesses||Does not apply to citizens|
Company / Companies
Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:
|Trade unions||Employers' organisations|
|Role||No involvement||No involvement|
|Form||Not applicable||Not applicable|
Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:
This is a set of company measures, which have been designed and implemented by that company, without involvement from the social partners. It is not clear whether the organisation is unionised.
No public information on this but given the focus of the measures (ie ensuring staff well being), it can be assumed that both sides of industry would be supportive.
|Economic area||Sector (NACE level 2)|
|Q - Human Health And Social Work Activities||Q86 Human health activities|
|Occupation (ISCO level 2)|
|Health associate professionals|
Eurofound (2020), The Mental Health Matters charity: Well-being packages for employees, measure GB-2020-12/1551 (measures in United Kingdom), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/GB-2020-12_1551.html
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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.