Mental Health Awareness Week - Combatting Stress in the Workplace

14th May 2018

kate

Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and in England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week (Mind.co.uk, 2018. Mental health problems can range anywhere from anxiety and depression, to PTSD and bipolar disorder, and worries about things like money, jobs and benefits can make it harder for people to cope.

Mental Health Awareness Week (14 to 20 May 2018) was established to educate and increase awareness about mental illness, and this year the focus is on stress and how employees and employers can create a mentally healthy workplace where everyone feels valued and supported.

We are very proud of our internal environment, which has been cultivated over the years to create an open and safe place for the entire team.

We interviewed Managing Director Kate Gibson about the culture of our business and the secret behind our healthy environment.

Hi Kate, thanks for speaking with us today. Mental Health Awareness Week is a great way of starting a conversation about mental health and encourages frank and open discussions.

A company’s culture can make or break a business. How do you ensure that stress levels are kept to a minimum?

The culture at Gibsons is central to who we are and it’s all about bringing people together and focusing on our strengths. Our team meetings always begin with a look at what we have done well and are proud of since the last time we met. We have introduced a buddy scheme where everyone pairs up with someone else in the office for a couple of months at a time. During that time, they may go for a coffee together or play a game, allowing them to get to know one other better, share any concerns and have some fun. We hold regular coffee mornings with no agenda, but to chat and take time away from our desks. During our busiest time we offer massage and we are about to offer a lunchtime Pilates session. Our Pork Pie room (Kitchen area!) has a table football and there is always a puzzle on the go, encouraging people to switch off and do something else when they need to.

Of course, it’s impossible to avoid stress altogether but by holding regular 1/1s with the team and allowing them to share any concerns, we try and ensure that any problems are dealt with as they arise. We have an extremely supportive team who actively look out for one another and I feel very proud of the culture that we have.

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• Has Gibsons always had a positive environment?

As a family business, our culture has always been important, but it is a bit of a passion of mine so I have worked hard to build upon this. Dealing with stress in the workplace is essential to a happy, thriving business. If people feel valued, they will work hard and everybody benefits.

We understand the importance of recruiting the right people for Gibsons, who will understand and embrace our collaborative culture.

• How do you personally relieve stress?

I am a great believer in the endorphins released by exercising, so I regularly run and do Pilates. As I run, I can feel my mind processing certain issues that may have been bothering me and I can often find a renewed perspective. We should never under estimate the power of talking. Sharing a problem with someone you trust and allowing yourself to be vulnerable can be a powerful part of relieving stress and has helped me hugely. As has a good old laugh with an old friend - we all need laughter in our lives!

• What makes Gibsons different from other companies?

Some of our employees have been with us for 20 years and this loyalty makes us a family business in more than one sense. We recognise the importance of a home life balance and how vital this is to someone’s wellbeing. This may be offering a part time role to someone who returns to work after having a baby or offering flexible hours to assist with childcare. In the summer, we finish early on a Friday.

• Is there anything that you could improve?

We can always improve and are continually looking for ways to enhance our employees’ wellbeing and to make them feel valued. Small gestures can really go a long way. Saying thank you, showing how much you appreciate the efforts of someone can have a significant impact on their day.

Mental Health Awareness Week is a great opportunity to open up and start a discussion about mental health. There are lots of ways you to get involved, head over to Mind’s website to find out more.

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