There is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ with mental health. Bloomberg has a unique culture, benefiting from an incredibly diverse and multicultural community. A large proportion of the 3,500 employees in our London headquarters are not British nationals. They often have limited family networks locally, and may require additional support as a result.
Bloomberg’s work environment is high-energy and the workforce is dynamic and driven. Face-time, and being physically present, is important and the work we do can be demanding.
Engagement is high among the workforce. In our 2016 Employee Engagement Survey, 85% of our London-based employees said they felt they contribute to the success of Bloomberg in a meaningful way. There is also pressure, however, to deliver the very best of themselves, every day.
When employees attend our onsite health clinics, we need to know if the presenting symptoms such as persistent headaches and skin conditions could be indications of a different underlying problem. Does the fact that many people don’t talk about mental health issues mean they don’t have them, or that they are hiding them, or don’t even realise they have them?
How do you encourage a culture of good mental health? Mental health, wellbeing and workplace productivity are irrefutably linked. Mental wellbeing is on the radar for Bloomberg leaders and managers, and encouraging a culture of good, sustainable mental health is important to our employees and our business.
Bloomberg launched a new partnership with mental health charity MIND on World Mental Health Day in 2016 (10th October). As part of this, we introduced a year-long series of training talks at Bloomberg to build awareness of the importance of mental health and how it plays out in the workplace. The talks also direct employees to tools and coping and resilience strategies to help them create a wellbeing plan. This programme is run in partnership with both MIND and Feel Good, a group of qualified professionals in psychology, nutrition, physiotherapy and mindfulness.
We have also added two new workshops to our learning and development programme, including a session to help our leaders understand common mental health problems and how to manage these issues in the workplace.
We place a lot of emphasis on prevention. We run monthly talks on all aspects of wellbeing, for example getting enough sleep, exercise and eating healthily. Our year-long mental health programme extends this offering and will help employees recognise and act on poor mental wellbeing early on, as well as offer practical ways to support colleagues with mental health issues.
We also offer a robust Employee Assistance Programme, a 24/7 dedicated and confidential telephone helpline for Bloomberg staff. This enables employees to deal with difficulties affecting their personal wellbeing or ability to work. Additionally, Bloomberg has primary healthcare on site, and provides occupational health and private healthcare to employees. Our on-site nurses provide a confidential service and are knowledgeable in the support systems that our employees can tap into.
We give talks on wellbeing to new starters, including graduates and interns, emphasising how to protect their mental health in a new, high-speed environment, in what may also be a new country. We are transparent about the demanding nature of the work at Bloomberg and we are eager to build positive mental health awareness from the outset.
Giving is one of the ‘five ways to wellbeing’ identified by the New Economics Foundation, and that is a big part of what we do. Philanthropy and volunteering has always been an integral part of Bloomberg’s culture. Throughout our 35-year history, our employees have volunteered nearly half a million hours to provide services to more than 5,000 non-profit organisations globally – from mentoring young people, to working in soup kitchens, planting trees and much more. Bloomberg is also committed to supporting the mental health of those in our community – placing trained counsellors in schools through Place2Be and contributing to the wellbeing of the elderly through Age UK. In our 2016 engagement survey, 78% of employees said they feel proud of where they work because of our philanthropic impact.
Companies need to think more holistically about ‘mental health’. Between 5% and 10% of Bloomberg staff use our Employee Assistance Programme, but they rarely phone in with stress. They’re more likely to seek financial, legal or marriage advice – all of which can have knock-on effects on their physical and mental wellbeing. In response to our employees’ requirements, we are now considering introducing a financial wellbeing module into the monthly talks we host for employees. Mental health does not exist in a vacuum, and listening to our employees and better understanding the kinds of issues they raise will help employers target wellbeing activities even better.