Mental Health Awareness 2019: Manifest

Few agencies have more policies focused on staff wellbeing than Manifest, a Gold winner in the 2018 PRWeek Best Places to Work Awards.

The Manifest Balance benefits scheme offers personal training, yoga sessions, free healthy breakfasts on Mondays, unlimited holidays, and a 'buddy box' of small, 'mood-lifting' gifts.

Specific 'stress-reduction' initiatives include flexitime working options, sabbaticals for long-serving staff, free cab rides, and help with moving home, including van rental and a subscription to SpareRoom.com.

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"They are all things that are supposed to make your life a little bit easier, rather than just being a perk," says Lucy Peacock, Manifest's 'happiness officer'.

"They seem like really small things, but they actually make quite a big difference. Like when you want to move house – that's a super-stressful situation, but your work is helping take that anxiety away."

Other offers include a 'life-change grant', covering one month's pay if an employee needs to be absent for an extended period due to a significant life change.

Meanwhile, GlycanAge tests are offered to help staff understand their true 'health' connected to diet, lifestyle and mental health. Subsidies for therapy are also available.

This month (January) the agency launches a specific mental-health plan that will crystallise the training and action plans for each member of staff.

In terms of impact, internal surveys show that average staff satisfaction levels across the business have risen from about six to eight out of 10 in the past two years. Absenteeism has fallen, although Peacock says this could also be linked to the unlimited holiday.

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Meanwhile, of the three people who have left in the past year, just one went to another agency. "From exit interviews, they're not leaving because they feel stressed in the workplace. People are generally happy when they're here."

Peacock adds: "We do have people who suffer with mental [ill-]health within the agency. It's quite easy to manage because the senior team are all on board with this.

"It's just[about] knowing someone is on your side and knowing someone is there to support you."

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