CIPD and the Mental Health at Work Commitment

Brad Taylor, Director of People, OD and Workplace at the CIPD, outlines how the CIPD has continued to meet the Mental Health at Work Commitment during an unprecedented year. 

Caring for people’s mental health is a big responsibility and one that we take very seriously at the CIPD. Last year, we highlighted this by signing up to the Mental Health at Work Commitment. Little did I know back then just how hard the next 12 months would be for everyone's mental health, and how vital the work we’d deliver would be to supporting our people.  
So how are we meeting the standards at the CIPD? I’ve outlined the six standards that make up the Mental Health at Work Commitment below and what we’re doing within each to meet them. 
1. Prioritise mental health in the workplace by developing and delivering a systematic programme of activity 

At the start of 2020 we launched our new performance approach – Be Your Best, which put wellbeing as one of the four key components of all performance conversations with our people. Through the course of the year, we have developed and adapted the approach to meet the needs of our people during a pandemic, such as encouraging everyone to set 90-day goals, so focusing work into more manageable, shorter term chunks. We have also increased the capability of our managers to have wellbeing conversations with their team members as part of this programme of work.  

As the global pandemic hit, a Covid-19 response team was brought together to focus on both the physical and mental needs of our people, ensuring a people-first approach to every action we took. With regular meetings held throughout the pandemic period, our team has been focused on ensuring that people’s mental health has been at the heart of every decision we have made, from closing our offices ahead of the national lockdown to providing a safe office environment for those that needed it, post lockdown.  

Our Wellbeing Champions, Mental Health Champions and employee resource groups continue to be a key part of ensuring that we are always in touch with our people and responding to their needs.  
2. Proactively ensure work design and organisational culture drive positive mental health outcomes
The frequency of our communications with our people has been increased since we moved to a remote way of working. We have actively created many more touch points to ensure people have felt cared for. From sharing regular wellbeing blogs, organisation-wide news articles and virtual briefings to leadership briefings and team huddles. This has been vital to provide information, support and connection as we have all been working remotely.  

We have really focused on ensuring people have the skills and tools to work remotely Technical training has been provided, as well as training on tools and techniques people can use to reduce digital overload, making sure that new ways of working don’t have a negative impact on people’s mental health. 

While we already provided a flexible approach to work hours, we have actively worked with people to create individual solutions to allow people to meet their work and home needs during what has proved to be a very challenging year.

3. Promote an open culture around mental health

For two years, our team of Mental Health Champions have provided a listening ear for our people as well as sign-posting them to sources of support. The team have run regular events throughout the year to encourage people to meet and engage with them for a chat. 

We actively encourage our people managers to talk about mental health with their teams, which has resulted in management support being highlighted in our employee engagement survey results as one of CIPD’s organisational strengths. 

4. Increase organisational confidence and capability. 

We continue to develop our people managers to have the skills they need to confidently talk about mental health with their people, to facilitate supportive wellbeing conversations. This has included toolkits, conversation guides and learning resources. 

We ran development sessions for managers on using our engagement tool. Designed to increase managers confidence, these sessions empowered them to know how to listen and act on the real time data and identify key themes that may be impacting on team wellbeing. 

There has been a strong focus on building individual resilience and people managing their own wellbeing and mental health this year. We have worked hard to create a sense of community as well as provide support for people’s mental and physical health by offering free access to virtual classes such as yoga, HIIT, mindfulness and the CIPD choir. 

5. Provide mental health tools and support

This year, we focused on re-designing our wellbeing page on our intranet, making it easier for our people to access all the support that is available. Now our people can easily find resources categorised by the issue they may be facing such as domestic abuse, money trouble or anxiety.  

We continually promote the services we provide such as our Employee Assistance Programme, Financial Wellbeing hub and Mental Health and Wellbeing Champions and encourage their use. 

6. Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting

November 2019 saw us launch a new employee engagement tool, which runs fortnightly providing us with a continuous source of real time data on key people issues, including wellbeing. We regularly report our scores to our people each quarter and include the data within our monthly people metrics and organisation metric dashboard. All our people have access to our live employee engagement organisational dashboard so anyone can see how we are performing against any of our key measures at any time. Our EAP statistics are also monitored quarterly so we can identify if we need to do more. 

November 2018 saw us achieve our Investors in People Wellbeing Award. We continue to review ourselves against the standard as we work towards successfully applying for it again in 2021. 

Mental health continues to be a priority at the CIPD and into the new year, this focus will only grow.  


Click here to find out more about how you can prioritise the mental health of your people by signing up to the Mental Health at Work Commitment, and how CIPD guidance and resources can help you do it. 

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