A culture that encourages staff to share experiences, coupled with practical steps to address mental health concerns, made CCgroup a worthy winner in this category.
Chief executive Richard Fogg's personal experience of mental ill-health was a catalyst for focusing more on the issue over the past year or so. The 30-strong agency, which has two Mental Health First Aiders, has held sessions where people are encouraged to talk about their own experiences, to normalise these discussions.
External speakers have been brought in to discuss specific topics related to mental health. In monthly mentor-mentee meetings staff are asked how they are really feeling – "we don't accept 'fine', or 'I'm great, thanks' – and support is given when needed.
'Tea and toast' sessions, and breakfasts once a month, are additional forums for staff to talk about their feelings – work discussions are not allowed. The frequency of these has increased since the move to home working amid the COVID-19 crisis, as have the mentor-mentee catch-ups, which now take place at least every two days.
The crisis has brought extra focus on mental health in other ways: for example, greater communication with staff so they understand why some have been furloughed; and creating specialist groups for parents and people living on their own to help in their particular challenges. The frequency of team lunches and (online) games nights have also increased.
The agency's mental health schemes set for the next quarter include: a 'sleep school', to encourage better sleeping; online resilience training, run by a stand-up comedian; and a session on 'imposter syndrome'.
To help counter excessive overtime, the senior team will identify via timesheets who has been working too much and give them time off when necessary. Employees are strongly encouraged to take holidays during the year, rather than carry them over, to given them a proper break.
Staff also have access to wellbeing app called LifeWorks, which includes a 24/7 mental-health hotline.
Highly Commended: Octopus Group
Judges admired Octopus Group's embrace of the mental-health agenda, and its impressive policies and approaches to the crucial issue.
Like CCgroup, Octopus has an ambition to make everyone feel comfortable to talk openly about their feelings; this is encapsulated in its "mental health vision" for 2020.
Last year six employees underwent mental-health training. They were at various levels of seniority, from account executive to board member, to ensure all staff members feel they can talk to someone who would understand their situation.
Line managers and mentors have been trained to spot signs of poor mental health in the workplace, and respond appropriately.
Help of this type has been stepped up amid the move to home-working, where senior team members have been more proactive in contacting staff to check on their wellbeing rather than waiting for them to get in touch.