Mental Health Awareness 2019: Forster Communications

Forster could be among the first agencies to have acted specifically on mental health, launching its mental-health toolkit about six years ago.

Mental Health Awareness 2019: Forster Communications

It's an action plan detailing what steps to take to improve the mental wellbeing of staff members. One key area is training for line managers to handle sensitive conversations.

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"That is the thing that comes out again and again," says marketing manager Kate Parker. "It helps break down the stigma and people feel OK to speak up and flag if there’s any issue."

One element, she says, is training people who aren't in an employee's chain of command. "For example, if it was your line manager who was causing you stress, there were other people in the organisation who individuals could go and speak to and ask for advice or signpost to support."

The point is that people are available across the business to discuss mental-health issues.

Flexible working is another crucial area. Forster offers flexible start and finish times, as well as remote working and hot-desking options.

Forster – a "social change PR agency" that works with firms and not-for-profit groups to accelerate social change – implemented an 'employee health check' a few years ago. This involved an independent auditor interviewing staff and talking to the agency leaders about what action should be taken and was built into an annual employee survey, further identifying areas to address.

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Parker says: "We have had people speaking up, flagging that they have issues and seeking support, so we know the systems are in place and it is working."

In terms of the business impact, annual sick days fell from 2.7 to 2.1 per employee on average in the most recent financial year; and staff productivity on client accounts increased by four per cent in the year. In addition, recent staff surveys found that 93 per cent of employees felt they have access to information and education to help them cope at work.

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