Many businesses are recognising the business case for investing in well-being and nearly half of the employers we surveyed (46%) reported that their organisation has increased its focus on well-being in the past year. But, despite pledges to end mental health discrimination, mental ill health is one of the top five causes of long-term absence according to our latest Absence Management survey.
Clearly more work needs to be done to break down stigma and provide an open and supportive culture where staff can be honest with managers about their mental health. This is particularly pertinent in the banking sector, which is renowned for its high levels of stress and high-performance culture. In response to the worrying prevalence of workplace-related mental health problems in financial services, the Bank Workers Charity and Mind developed a comprehensive 12-month training programme for line managers and piloted it over a period of 14 months in four UK banks.
The programme was designed to promote culture change within the banking sector, improving employee mental health and well-being, and so increasing overall organisational productivity and performance. To allow for people to learn in different ways, the programme adopted a blended learning approach combining face-to-face delivery with e-learning modules, so that the participants could thoroughly get to grips with the material and they had the chance to dip into the course materials when convenient to them.
The CIPD was invited to evaluate these mental health training pilots to determine where intervention has had a clear impact on managers' attitudes and behaviours, as well as looking at wider employee and organisational outcomes. Overall, we found that the programme is generating positive change in a number of ways.
Targeting line managers with this training programme was a crucial place to start as they play an essential role in organisations - acting as a link between the senior team and the wider workforce. While the working culture of an organisation influences line manager behaviour, individual ability and motivation is also important. This programme showed that developing line managers’ awareness and understanding of mental health issues produced positive results, with 99% of managers agreeing or strongly agreeing that their knowledge of mental health had increased as a result of the training. This rise in mental health literacy of line managers means they’re better able to spot the signs of poor mental health amongst their staff.
However, we're recommending that to improve the programme further, it could be adapted to extend its reach. For instance, we're suggesting going beyond the areas targeted in the pilot to widen participation across the banks and broaden engagement with other functions and business units. We'd also like to see the next iteration of the training programme raise awareness of mental health problems, not just among line managers, but within their teams as well.
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At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.