From surviving to thriving – Silver award for workplace wellbeing

Bridgend College are once again delighted to receive recognition for another prestigious award.

Following on from last year’s Bronze award at Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index Awards, the College are proud to announce that we have received a Silver award this year. The Silver award is given to employers who have made demonstrable achievements in promoting staff mental health, demonstrating progress and impact over time.

At Bridgend College our mission is to support our learners and staff to “be all that they can be”. Because of this we were recently voted TES 2019 FE College of the Year. This amazing achievement is thanks to our fantastic staff and we recognise that, as an employer, we have a responsibility to look after them and help them to thrive.

Sam Morgan, Director of People at Bridgend College, reinforced the need for organisations to “get behind the initiative”, which seeks to raise awareness of the importance of workplace wellbeing and tackle the stigma of mental health.

Sam continued by explaining how important it is to create what she calls ‘psychological safety’ in the work environment.  When asked what this looks like in practice, Sam painted a picture of an environment where;

“People are not judged, but are encouraged to be open about their health condition(s) without fear of negative consequences.  It is about seeing the person, rather than the illness and working to understand what is needed; from this we can offer individuals tailored support to meet their individual needs. It is also about taking time to think about the environment we create as leaders and whether that environment supports wellbeing or impedes it.”

The index allows us to measure how people feel about their own mental health and wellbeing and how they view the support they receive from us as their employer.

Most importantly the index allows us to see if our actions are making a difference.

In 2017 we were awarded a Bronze Award. This recognised that we had started our journey to better mental health by creating initiatives which promote positive mental health for staff.

At that time we had a 24/7 employee assistance programme and a lot of activities we invited people to take part in, from Zumba classes to Mindfulness. We had also signed up to the Time to Change Wales Pledge.

This was a good start but feedback from the index showed us that we needed to take it to the next level to really help people to feel supported and be the best they could be.

To help us improve, these are some of the things we did:

  • We delivered a full day wellbeing conference for all staff and local partners to give them the skills and knowledge to make a more positive impact on their own health and wellbeing, both mental and physical.
  • As part of our restructure we made sure staff have more time with managers who are looking to decrease stress for their employees.
  • We have designed and implemented a ‘Person Centred Leadership Programme’, which gives leaders the skills to create a better environment, based on understanding what really matters to staff.
  • Several managers have had Mental Health First Aid training and more training is planned over the next couple of months for a wider group of staff.
  • We have recruited a Wellbeing Advisor who works with individuals and managers to support people to stay well in work and supports people back to work, with plans to meet individual needs. This has helped us to reduce absence.
  • Our intention and commitment to improving the wellbeing of staff and students is continually supported by our Principal & CEO, Simon Pirotte, who recently hosted a breakfast morning for Mind Cymru, sharing stories about challenges in the sector and our responses.

We were delighted this year to see an improvement in our Index score, achieving Silver award as a result and, showing that we have really stepped up our focus on wellbeing in the workplace.

The things we do to achieve change are shaped by listening to staff and their needs, and will be beneficial to our staff, students and the communities we service. To make sure we are always going in the right direction, we will continue to measure our impact using the Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index.