Laing O’Rourke is a company that wants everyone to bring the best version of themselves to work so that their business can be a leader in the construction industry. They recognise that, in order for this to happen, the mental health needs of their employees have to be addressed.
It’s been four years since the company started thinking about how they could improve the mental health of their employees and they have made some excellent progress.
The company has 177 mental health champions and 76 mental health first aiders. 400 managers have been trained in how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental illness and how to support people through mental health issues.
Furthermore, they provide mental health awareness training as well as counselling for employees who need it. This is the kind of practical support which can really make a difference for employees who are struggling. Not to mention that the experience of being a mental health champion can be beneficial for the individual – it helps them build their own confidence and resilience.
Laing O’Rourke want to build up the overall resilience and happiness of their employees. One of the ways that they have done this is by launching a six month programme encouraging lifestyle changes which make people more mentally and physically healthy. This saw 320 people take part and lose 118 stone in total. People also reported improved concentration and better sleeping patterns.
Laing O’Rourke have also been running resilience and mindfulness training for all employees. They hope this programme will provide employees with the tools and techniques to manage their own health and wellbeing.
One of the biggest challenges the company faced was getting people to believe that they were serious about tackling mental health stigma.
Laing O’Rourke didn’t want employees to be concerned that they would be risking their jobs by revealing their mental health problems and they didn’t want people to feel embarrassed when talking about mental health.
Tackling this challenge was always going to be difficult and take time, but the company found that sharing case studies and encouraging colleagues to share with each other has gone a long way in building trust.
Employers may underestimate the appetite for mental health action in the workplace. Laing O’Rourke found that it was surprisingly easy to implement change because of how enthusiastically employees responded, with lots of willing volunteers coming forward.
They also found that making a positive impact doesn't necessarily require a big budget. Rather, small changes can build up to bigger ones. Laing O’Rourke have seen a tangible difference in their workforce in just over a year.