We spoke to David Bailey, Executive Sponsor of the Wellbeing Champions and Executive Director of the Financial Market Infrastructure Directorate, and Sonya Branch, Executive Sponsor of the Mental Health Network and the Bank’s General Counsel.
The Bank of England has built on its wellbeing strategy by:
- Creating a network of wellbeing champions to raise awareness of the support available;
- Rolling out personal resilience training for all people;
- Developing a mental health peer support network.
The challenge: The Bank of England offers a wide range of support to help people with their physical, mental and financial wellbeing. However, it is one thing to offer extensive support. It’s another thing to make sure people are aware of it and how to access it.
The response: The Bank put in place a network of wellbeing champions across the business to promote to colleagues what wellbeing support is available and how people can access it.
The result: Whilst individual use is confidential, the Bank has seen an increase in people using the services offered and general awareness about them.
The challenge: Peoples’ workload at the Bank of England has picked up in recent years in part due to a challenging external environment, including work related to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The Bank recognised people were likely to face an increasing challenge in balancing their working life and the demands of home life. The Bank, therefore, wanted to ensure people were able to recognise their own stressors and energisers so that people felt able to draw upon resources to help them effectively navigate the pressures that come with organisation change.
The response: Personal resilience training was rolled out across the Bank. For the Bank, personal resilience is not about putting the onus on people to manage challenges alone. Rather, the training helps people identify simple steps they can take to manage their own wellbeing, particularly during busy times. Training also supported managers in how to recognise any resilience concerns in colleagues and what to do to help.
The result: The training has been rolled out area by area across the Bank with subsequent training offered to anyone that was unable to make the original training days, for example, new joiners. The feedback on the training has been overwhelmingly positive.
Mental health peer support
The challenge: A lot of work has been done to break down the stigma around mental health, but it is recognised that more could be done.
The response: The Mental Health Network set up a group of volunteers who were willing to meet and talk with people being affected directly or indirectly by mental health in a safe and secure place. These volunteers were provided with training ahead of the sessions and the meetings are generally held on an ad-hoc basis. The feedback so far has been positive, and just having the network assists in breaking down stigma. This peer support network is in addition to a successful programme of coffee hours on specific topics (such as eating disorders, stress, anxiety, grief) where colleagues can participate in a free discussion.
The result: This has created a more sophisticated wellbeing offering which has tapped into the power of having conversations about mental health experiences. It has proved effective not just for people with their own mental health issues but also for those who are supporting a friend, colleague, or family member with a mental health issue.
- Resilience training: This was a big investment and needed senior management buy-in. The Bank started with training its senior leadership team to enable them to talk about the benefits and their own experiences with their teams.
- Peer support network: This initiative is low cost in terms of money but not in terms of time and effort. The key was, therefore, having a community of volunteers who were really committed to breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health.
The Bank of England is conscious of the increasing appetite for the support it can give. The question is on how it can continue to meet these demands and achieve more. The focus is on looking at ways to measure and understand the value and impact the initiatives are having so that the team can invest its efforts in the areas with the greatest impact.