Why we’re signing the Time to Change employer pledge

On the 2nd December, in an all-hands meeting in our Manchester office, we’ll officially sign the Time to Change Employer Pledge.

Anyone who follows us on LinkedIn will know we’ve already begun implementing the Action Plan, and that actually we’ve been focused on mental health and wellbeing for a while. For us, the signing of the pledge will be a big moment; it cements and publicly pledges our commitment to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our people.

So why is it so important to us?

Signing the Time to Change Pledge seems a natural next step for us, in a year that’s already seen us introduce fully flexible working, provide 121 coaching and emotional intelligence development for all, bring in a new coaching led performance management system, and change the structure of our teams to allow greater empowerment and ownership for everyone.

We’ve had people at the heart of our business strategy for longer than we’ve had a business strategy

Our business strategy is all about ‘people first’ – in fact we’ve had people at the heart of our business strategy for longer than we’ve had a business strategy – and any company that genuinely believes in the power of putting people first understands the importance of listening to, seeking, and most importantly acting on, feedback from their people.

It was feedback from a member of staff following the introduction of flexible working that prompted us to start taking a look around at what more we could be doing to support our team’s mental health and wellbeing.

Trust was the motivator?

Our main motivation behind this at the time was to show trust in our teams; our culture is built on empowerment, and autonomy, and by bringing in this policy we showed our team that we trust them to choose their own working hours, and locations, and to do so with the best interests of their clients and colleagues at the core of their decision making.

The idea was for the flexibility to positively impact both their output and their wellbeing; every team member has the freedom to work remotely if they need to focus, or to change their hours to work around other commitments without having to ask permission.

Wellbeing in mind

While we had wellbeing in mind, we’d only really considered this from a ‘work-life’ balance point of view – we hadn’t put too much thought into the benefits that might be felt specifically by those with mental health problems, until we sent out a follow up survey for feedback on the impact of the policy, and one member of staff replied:

The updated Flexi-working policy has allowed me to work within my means. As someone who suffers from mental health issues, there can be days when I would be very unproductive if I was confined to the office. User Conversion’ Flexi policy lets me both take care of myself, and complete ALL the work that is asked of me – There is no trade-off, just a better way of organising my life!

The lightbulb moment

This feedback was a real lightbulb moment for us; as a business we have the power to have such an impact on the mental health of our team – both positive and negative – and with great power comes great responsibility! We just knew we needed to explore what else we could do, which led us to the Time to Change Pledge, and recruitment of 9 team members to act as our volunteer Mental Health Champions internally, leading on initiatives, activities and more, all with the aim of supporting good mental health among our workforce.