Earlier this year we took some time to consider our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) approach. Our aim was to involve everyone across our global business, uniting them around a cause that would make a difference to us as individuals, as a business and in our local communities.
The first thing we needed to decide on was a theme. Mental health and wellbeing should always be a top priority for organizations who have a responsibility for people, but this year it’s become more important than ever.
Top line mental health stats
- 25% of the UK population will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year
- 20% of the population say they are always or often lonely, which increases the likelihood of mortality by 26%
- 33% of young people are suffering from mental troubles
We quickly realized that on top of these mental health statistics, loneliness had become a much more prominent issue as a result of the onset of the pandemic and mass lockdown. According to Mind.org.uk loneliness isn’t in itself a mental health problem, but the two are very closely linked. The team here quickly united around the idea of mental health and loneliness as the focus for our CSR efforts.
“Feeling lonely can have a negative impact on your mental health, especially if these feelings have lasted a long time. Some research suggests that loneliness is associated with an increased risk of certain mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep problems and increased stress”.Mind.org.uk
Ledger Bennett’s #Workstyle
For a number of years we have operated a global, flexible remote working culture that we’ve called #Workstyle. Employees are invited to work in a way that suits them, as long as it’s signed off by the client or line manager they’re working with.
Because of this, Ledger Bennett have always been acutely aware of the importance of employee wellbeing. We were used to working with and managing remote teams and our employees were used to home and flexible working. However, full lockdown is a totally different ballgame as far as wellbeing is concerned. We recognized in order to take care of employees, and continue to build a positive and inclusive culture it was more important than ever for us to double down on supporting employees and local communities with mental health and loneliness.
Specific aims of the project
We started at a community level, selecting three small, local mental health charities from relevant areas across the globe where Ledger Bennett had an employee community. These charities are Mind BLMK; Sane and NAMI: The National Alliance on Mental Illness.
We split our activity into four support pillars:
- Fundraising and community – this is all about our people making a difference at personal and local level through individual and team activities; virtual fundraising; salary sacrifice and direct involvement with our chosen charities.
- People and support – this involves training delivered to Ledger Bennett by external charities; specific learning and development frameworks for mental health and loneliness and a dedicated programme for advice and support from our HR team.
- Marketing expertise – running marketing skills workshops for our people to help fill knowledge gaps; give them an alternative type of support during lockdown and beyond and provide them with the tools and autonomy to shape their skills and career in whatever way they choose.
- Marketing support – using our primary skill-set to help support charities with their own marketing and run joint marketing initiatives with them to help raise money. The campaign we developed was ‘A day to make a difference’ which involved volunteers from Ledger Bennett taking on a challenge of their choice and donating all funds raised to the local charities we’d selected.
The results so far
The topic of mental health and loneliness will always be a focus for our business. But we’re still at the beginning of delivering the CSR framework outlined. We have had strong engagement with both our colleagues and with our partner charities and we’ve already seen some brilliant results which can be categorized into three main areas:
- Commercial fundraising
- Mental health awareness
- Wellbeing openness and conversations
Within the first month we have:
- Raised almost £1500
- Run 3 external charity led workshops for our employees on mental wellness and staying positive when working remotely
- We’ve seen a number of volunteers for the salary sacrifice scheme
- We’ve had huge support on social media from clients and ex clients, colleagues and ex colleagues and our wider audience of friends, families, suppliers and local communities.
But the work has just begun.
We’re committed to continuing to build momentum, supported by this CSR framework, primarily to ensure our employees know they’re working in an environment where open conversations about mental health and wellbeing are actively encouraged; they all feel part of something and know they’re cared for and that we as an organization do everything we can to support our local charities and communities.