Mental Health Awareness Week 2020: The Living Wage Employers paving the way for a kinder workplace amidst the coronavirus pandemic
This week (18 May – 24 May) marks Mental Health Awareness Week, and Living Wage Employer, Mental Health Foundation are asking us to reflect on our actions and their impact on others.
This year’s theme is kindness and was chosen ‘because of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity’ and serves as an opportunity to transform society for the better following the coronavirus pandemic.
The past few months have presented an array of challenges for all of us. However, we at the Living Wage Foundation remain optimistic, solely due to the positive and inspirational actions from individuals, communities and many of our Living Wage Employers who are reinforcing how kindness supersedes in these unprecedented times.
We have been overwhelmed by the responses from Living Wage Employers demonstrating true leadership through genuine acts of kindness, generosity and altruism.
We’ve spent the last few weeks collecting positive stories from Living Wage Employers highlighting their fantastic responses to the pandemic ranging from donating masks, food and drinks to the NHS, to forming local community networks offering vital services to vulnerable residents.
We understand the uncertainty and confusion the pandemic has brought and have been proud how quickly Living Wage Employers have adapted to the ‘new normal’. Compassion. fairness and empathy remain at the heart of the Living Wage movement, and in our own organisation we’ve been required to use our imagination to ensure mental health and staff wellbeing are prioritised whilst working from home.
Shaheen Hashmat, a Senior Project Manager at the Living Wage Foundation has been really proactive and taking a lead on our team’s wellbeing during this testing time, looking at a variety of ways to ensure wellbeing is at the forefront of the agenda.
Some of the tips she shared included utilising Slack (an online messaging app) to conduct daily check-ins via their video function, organising a buddy system and providing resources to ensure staff wellbeing is prioritised whilst working from home:
“The Covid-19 crisis has inevitably brought a greater focus on mental health in the workplace, and it’s good to see more employers thinking about their role in supporting staff wellbeing.”
“At the Living Wage Foundation, we know there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, because people are affected in different ways. It’s important to put specific measures in place that more vulnerable staff can rely on, while building a culture of empathy where everyone feels comfortable talking about mental health.”
Likewise, Living Wage Employers have been prioritising wellbeing and kindness in both their responses to the coronavirus pandemic and maintaining the wellbeing of their employees. In response to Mental Health Awareness week, many Living Wage Employers have been encouraging conversations to remove the stigma surrounding mental health and have been proactive in promoting acts of kindness using the hashtag, #KindnessMatters. Here’s a few leading the way:
Boo Coaching & Consulting
Living Wage Employer Boo Coaching & Consulting offer coaching and training sessions to improve workplaces and make them a better place to work.
The organisation prides itself in safeguarding staff wellbeing within their coaching and mentoring services. Kindness is embedded within their values and they ensure to recruit staff to reflect this. We’re proud of the organisations’ commitment to good employee practice, for example following the initial news of the lockdown, the Director gave staff a week off. This was to allow the employees to focus on ‘settling into a new way of being at home with work, caring responsibilities and home schooling.’
Boo Coaching and Consulting have been quite active on social media and have been posting great content promoting positivity and mental wellness on their timeline. They’ve been hosting a number of webinars too, such as ‘Exploring Kindness in the Workplace and ‘Caring For yourself’ in response to Mental Health Awareness week.
Aviva is another Living Wage Employer that is promoting conversations around mental health, they have also been proactive in their response to the coronavirus pandemic. We highlighted their generosity in an article last month after they donated an extra £10 million to the British Red Cross.
The organisation published advice on how to manage stress and anxiety during the lockdown. They have also been offering useful tips to employers to start conversations surrounding mental health in the workplace.
Some examples include, adopting employee assistance programmes, holding virtual sessions with employees and building a wellbeing strategy. This will ensure Employers are safeguarding their employees particularly as social distancing measures and remote working is providing new challenges for employers to maintain connectivity and promote a safeplace.
Aviva have been active on their social media as well, on Twitter they shared a video featuring Chief People Officer, Danny Harmer. She shared some acts of kindness she witnessed including her colleague baking for the ICU unit at Kingston Hospital and one of the Senior Clinical Consultants at Aviva returning to the NHS. The video is part of the 87 Acts of kindness, a video compilation with people sharing heartwarming stories that highlight the impact of kind gestures, emphasising why "Kindness Matters".
Find out more...
To find out more information about Mental Health Awareness week visit the Mental Health Foundation website.
If you’re interested in how Living Wage Employers are responding to the coronavirus pandemic visit the Stronger Together page which is updated regularly with the latest news from our Employers.
How can you get involved?
We’re supporting a real Living Wage for key workers! If you do one kind thing today, why not download our Living Wage for Key Worker printable posters here. Take a photo and share your support for those risking their health in this crisis on social media using #LivingWage4KeyWorkers!