Thriving at Work mental health survey results released
Highways sector comes together at House of Lords to hear results of the Thriving at Work Mental Health survey.
In June 2019, Safer Highways launched the first industry benchmarking exercise against the Thriving at Work standards. At the launch event, Safer Highways pledged that monitoring employees who are suffering from poor mental health is now an essential requirement for business. Earlier this month many of the organisations who took part in the survey, were guests of Lord Dennis Stevenson for a breakfast meeting at the House of Lords on the banks of the River Thames.
Martin Worthington, SHEQ Director at Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure Ltd and the Board Chairman of Safer Highways, opened proceedings by recollecting three cases of suicide interventions within his firm. He spoke about how his employees had the ‘confidence to intervene’ and prevent three members of the public from taking their life.
Only one of the three incidents involved qualified mental health first aid trainers, promoting Martin to asked, “would that have happened five years ago?” He said it “highlighted the importance of the work we are doing.”
Mind Chief Executive and Co-author of Thriving at Work Paul Farmer spoke, two years on from the release of the report he published with Lord Stevenson, about how the how the highways sector has ‘grasped’ the issue of mental health. “What you are doing in this sector is rally changing the lives of your people.”
The aim of the benchmarking survey was to assess mental health provision across the industry. The question set was based upon the ten standards set out by the Thriving at Work report. The exercise was not only designed to benchmark but also to direct organisations to the relevant guidance to improve mental health provision in the workplace.
Since the launch of the survey in June 2019, 100 organisations have completed the Safer Highways benchmarking survey including the likes of Kier, Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall Infrastructure, Skanska, Thames Water, Port of London Authority, Eurovia Ringway and Vinci.
The survey results were kept strictly confidential and therefore respondents were asked for total honesty. It was about producing a realistic understanding of the national position collectively, surrounding mental health.
Karl Simons, Chief Health, Safety and Security Officer at Thames Water, chaired the event and co-authored the report produced on the back of the survey. He said: “I am delighted to see such a great response to the survey request from across the Highways industry collectively.
“The benchmarking report we have produced shows an extremely encouraging picture through results that reflect the enormous effort that is going into mental health management by so many organisations.
“The report also highlights key trends that will enable the Safer Highways Board and Leadership team to produce clear strategic actions that will benefit all organisations towards moving further along on their journey.”
He opened his presentation by saying how encouraged he was that 95% of organisations are meeting at least one of the ten standards for employers. Analysis showed that 52% of the organisations responding, have achieved compliance against the core standards and 28% have gone further and achieved compliance against both the core and enhanced standards.
The Survey was built around the 10 ‘Core’ and ‘Enhanced’ Standards asking each of the questions to establish what steps each company has taken since its launch 18 months ago and ultimately gain a collective national industry position.
The results showed that 90% offer mental health awareness, despite only 69% having a mental health at work plan. The data also showed that 84% of firms questioned believe that they encourage conversations around mental health and commit to ensure employees are not discriminated against.
Core standard six expects organisations to routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing. Of the ten standards this one was the least compliant at only 63% of respondents demonstrating how they meet this.
Overall, Safer Highways says that it is clearly apparent that organisations within the highways sector are acknowledging their role in supporting mental health in the workplace. Through deeper analysis of the responses, it appears that organisations are doing several initiatives but are not building these into a wider strategy or plan on mental health. Thriving at Work is designed to steer organisations to the areas where they are not compliant and offering resources to building strength in this area. It is hoped that this benchmarking exercise has been able to support all the organisations who are not fully compliant with the standards.
Ahead of the release of the report, Safer Highways Chief Operating Officer, Kevin Robinson, said: “I am extremely proud to be a part in becoming the first sector to take the amazing work of the Thriving at Work report and effectively use its recommendations as a way of helping our industry to develop ways of improving the mental state of those we put to work.
“Collectively we estimate that the highways sector, through principal and tertiary contractors, employs almost a quarter of a million people, most of whom are men. We know that statistically, one in four men, will suffer some form of mental illness in their lives, most probably during their working lives too. By enabling employers to understand what they are not only doing but most importantly doing right, we will, in time build a culture of top-down change.”
“From this,” Kevin announced, “we aim to develop a full tool kit, including a portal that will enable you to fill out a series of questions and carry out a gap analysis in your business.
“We want this to be the first set of data and plan to see how far we can improve over the next 12 months”.
The tool kit is expected to be unveiled at Safety & Health Expo in May and it’s then hoped that the benchmarking survey can be rolled out into other sectors.
Lord Stevenson, the host for the day, concluded by saying: “It’s not just about stopping suicide, it’s about improving the day-to-day lived of everyone and giving people the skills and confidence that they can take home with them, because many mental ill health issues stem from the home.”
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