What a year 2013 has been for the Swindon Mindful Employer Network ! Now recognised as one of the largest and most well attended business networks in the Swindon area, concentrating on mental health and well-being issues in the workplace – the initiative focused on workplace cultures in March with a visit to Swindon from two authors of an influential government report.
You know when something is a hit at the Jurys Inn Swindon – when they started delivering more comfy chairs into the packed conference room. Employers and businesses were waiting eagerly for a presentation by the authors of a government report on employee engagement – and they were not disappointed by the two-hour session. David Macleod and Nita Clarke, armed with impressive CVs and superb communication skills, provided one of the best network meetings since its launch in 2008. The report entitled ‘Engaging for Success’ was originally commissioned by Lord Mandelson during the last Labour government and adopted by the Coalition government. David Macleod has worked at the highest levels of industry and is a former senior adviser on change and performance at the Cabinet Office. Nita was formerly the adviser on trade unions to Prime Minister Tony Blair, working as assistant political secretary in the Political Office at 10 Downing Street. Their report to government in 2009 demonstrated the link between employee engagement and improved productivity – enhanced staff well-being and reduced absenteeism.
Mental health@work: best practice in June saw BT employee relations manager Steve Exall headline the list of speakers, with Lisa Monis, Jan Willis and Adrian Embling of Richmond Fellowship Work Life and Geoff Windle of Lift Psychology. A full house at Menzies Swindon Hotel was provided best practice advice on handling stress, anxiety and depression at work. The session also looked at company support processes and how managers should handle situations complicated by stress and mental health issues. The importance of appropriate communications and dialogue between staff and managers was underlined by guest speakers and why the stigma of mental ill-health must be tackled by all concerned. This one-off event was introduced by Robert Buckland MP and Frances Mayes of Public Health Swindon concluded the occasion with a talk congratulating the network on 5 years of success.
David Latham, who manages the network at Richmond Fellowship Wiltshire says:
“ What we saw in 2013 was an increase in understanding by employers that workplace cultures and practices have a profound impact on employee well-being and sickness absence – and ultimately how these can benefit business performance and productivity. The revelation for many managers and business people is that regardless of the economic conditions, taking care of your employees and engaging with them is essential. Looking ahead in 2014 I believe the issues around mental resilience in the workforce is critical. A flexible workforce under pressure to perform needs the emotional and mental strength to meet the challenges of continuous change and business transformation. The demands on all employers are increasing and the Swindon Mindful Employer Network will provide the expertise and advice over the coming 12 months to help businesses adapt and grow.”