Bringing workplace mental health to the fore

To mark World Mental Health Day, employees from a Nottinghamshire business are highlighting the importance of robust and proactive mental health policies in the workplace.

Staff from Hardstaff Barriers, in Kingston-on-Soar, have spoken out to coincide with the global mental health awareness campaign, which took place yesterday (October 10, 2021).

Hardstaff Barriers believes it is essential for businesses – whatever their size – to create a positive mental health culture in the workplace, to ensure that staff feel truly supported in their role, encourage productivity and increase staff loyalty.

The company, which is a leading manufacturer and supplier of roadside safety barriers and perimeter security systems, not only helps employees in times of need, but it works hard to look out for signs of mental ill-health and to prevent issues from occurring in the first place.

Here are just some of the initiatives that Hardstaff Barriers has in place to address mental health proactively:

  • ‘Mental Health First Aiders’ – 10% of the Hardstaff Barriers and sister firm Asset VRS workforce have been trained as ‘Mental Health First Aiders.’ These team members are responsible for looking out for their colleagues and have been trained to recognise the signs of mental illness and stress. Sensitively, the member of staff in need is then signposted to a suitable avenue of support.
  • Designing out health and wellbeing risks – The company focuses heavily on the prevention of mental ill-health, rather than reacting to the issues when they are identified. The company ensures that staff are given annual medicals, work safety medicals, wellbeing training and drug and alcohol awareness education.
  • Employee Assistance Programme – This is also available to all employees, allowing them to access advice and help in difficult times. 
  • ‘Speak up’ culture – This culture, which has been developed since 2016, encourages staff to have their say at every opportunity. This gives every employee a voice and allows staff, no matter what their job role, to have their say and be heard. In turn, this improves confidence, morale and mental wellbeing.
  • Healthy working environment – At the office and yard, 100 pieces of free fruit are provided each week, along with breakout rooms and updated welfare areas, both inside and out.
  • Quarterly staff forums – Staff are invited to voluntarily attend a quarterly staff forum, where their ideas and questions can be discussed with senior managers and directors. This allows every team member to be heard.
  • Flexible working arrangements – Flexible working and home working are strongly supported by the company. Lengthy and unnecessary travel is also eradicated with the latest teleconferencing facilities. This all assists in a better work, life balance, which can impact on mental health.

What Hardstaff Barriers’ employees had to say:

Sarah Compton, Highways Account Manager at Hardstaff Barriers, said: “The whole team, especially my line manager and the director, were a huge support when I experienced an unexpected bereavement.

“With their reassurance, understanding and emotional support, it made a truly tragic time about me and my family, instead of worrying about work.This meant I returned to work and everyday life smoothly, which had a significant positive effect on my mental wellbeing and general health.”

Rhiannon McGhee, Apprentice Health, Safety and Environment Technician at Hardstaff Barriers, said: “There is so much thought put into mental health and wellbeing – which is what makes this job completely different from previous jobs I have had. 

“It is never the wrong time to admit you need help or are having a bad day. Our team is very supportive of each other if we are struggling. Our management is very understanding of our good and bad days, especially with the events of the past year or so, and we have grown closer.”

Jim Cotter, Project Manager at Hardstaff Barriers, said; “Although I haven’t needed to use it yet, there is an excellent Mental Health support system in place within Hardstaff Barriers. It’s clear that the management team takes this very seriously and they provide clear information and support when you need it most.”

Dave Todd, Director at Hardstaff Barriers, said: “As an employer, nothing can be more important than the health, safety and mental wellbeing of your team members. 

“We do everything we can to support our staff and are constantly looking for ways to improve this and to try and prevent mental health problems from developing in the first place.”

“As an employer, nothing can be more important than the health, safety and mental wellbeing of your team members.”
Dave Todd, Director at Hardstaff Barriers