Anxiety, fear, isolation, uncertainty and emotional distress: 2020 has seen a world experiencing an unprecedented impact on mental health. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organisation recognised that one person in every four is affected by a mental disorder at some stage of their lives (WHO, 2012) – impacting health, social and economic wellbeing. Whilst it's not known exactly what the potential long-term effects on mental health will be from the crisis, we can all as employers, co-workers and human beings make positive steps as we adapt to change.
Launched in 1992 to raise awareness and advance change in the global community around mental health, World Mental Health Day 2020 follows the theme of Mental Health for All (#MentalHealthForAll), bringing together professionals and mental health advocates for a global mental health movement preparing us for life post-COVID-19.
Shieldpay's Director of People & Talent, Simon Masters explains how we are driving positive change and developing new initiatives for our teams.
Like many firms, when we went into lockdown earlier in the year, we became quickly aware that we needed to mature the way in which we supported our employees' health, and to ask ourselves specifically, what more could we do to help our people improve their Mental Wellbeing.
At Shieldpay we have developed our approach over the past year to actively encourage everyone to embrace and to discuss their mental wellbeing, whether with peers, colleagues or their Managers. We know that creating an environment that can listen, understand, and then provide support or assistance in some form will benefit everyone within the organisation – and in turn the organisation itself. Like any journey we haven’t got it right every time, but we are constantly listening to our people, taking feedback, and hearing their stories so that we can evolve and improve the way we tackle an often invisible challenge.
One of the bigger impacts we could drive for everyone, was to look at the wider benefits that we offer to our people. Ensuring that our people are taking enough time out from work to rest and recover we removed the annual cap on our holiday allowance and rolled out unlimited annual leave for all. But a number of case studies had shown, annual leave taken by employees can then be reduced, so we built in minimum thresholds into our policy so that we know our people are taking some time out on a regular basis.
Placing mental health at the centre of our wellbeing strategy
While annual leave helps people plan for a break in advance – we know that people can’t schedule in when they might be struggling with their Mental Health. So we have also rolled out the ability for people to take up to one Mental Wellbeing Day per month should they wish – a day that does not need to be booked in advance, or come with a reason for booking – just the ability to step away from work if a break is what is needed at that time.
We are very proud of our overall benefits package, providing a set of benefits that we believe is market leading for a fin-tech organisation that is beginning its scaling-up journey. However we are constantly looking at what we offer, so when our employee medical cover came up for renewal during lockdown – (despite being happy with our current supplier) we took the decision to switch to a new insurer that provides what we believe is the industry leading mental health cover, to provide a broad range of professional, uncapped support to our people.
Improving mental health for Shieldpay's future
However, we won’t be resting on our laurels with the changes we’ve made so far, as we are in the process of planning to train up a number of our people as Mental Health First Aiders. This will help bring more informed and better educated support internally. We continue to listen to our employees feedback on how we can help to provide health-related benefits, and over the next few months we are aiming to roll out our cycle to work scheme – something that we know will have a fantastic take-up.
We know that everyone has mental health, so self-care is important for everyone, all the time, not just in moments of crisis or struggle. It is important that we all take what steps we can, for our own well-being, and to allow ourselves to refresh and recharge, so that we can feel, and be at our best.
As a company we pride ourselves in having a working environment where everyone feels comfortable talking about mental health, and that we are constantly working on building our reputation as a firm that actively cares for our employees' mental wellbeing.
World Mental Health Day is organised and promoted by the World Federation for Mental Health, founded in 1948 to advance the prevention of mental and emotional disorders, the proper treatment and care of those with such disorders, and the promotion of mental health for all. You can learn all about their initiatives, and how you can support them, at wfmh.global. For more on World Mental Health Day 2020 click the image below.
Shieldpay is an Escrow and Third-Party Managed Account (TPMA) service provider and works with lenders, developers, investors and lawyers to deliver a comprehensive range of payment settlement solutions throughout the commercial real estate journey. As Lenders – benefit from peace of mind through full transparency over the use of your funding. For Developers – increase efficiency and achieve streamlined project funding and onward subcontractor payments. To find out more, contact us today.