Surviving vs. thriving: Optimising the mental health of your workforce10.03.20
A Q&A with Harry Bliss, Co-Founder of Champion Health
Harry Bliss, Champion Health
Co-Founder, Champion Health
One of our most talked-about sessions at this year’s Benefex Forum was when we welcomed Harry Bliss to the stage to tell us about mental health at work. Harry shared some personal, painful stories and hard-hitting statistics to highlight the real struggles of those suffering with poor mental health.
His company, Champion Health, survey employees, and design employee risk assessments and reports to help employers know when to intervene – and how – if an employee’s mental health is at risk, or if they’re already in a difficult place.
Naturally, this is an emotive – and often difficult – subject to talk about with our employees, so our audience had plenty of questions for Harry. We’re pleased to be able to share his thoughts with you on this incredibly important area of discussion:
Hi Harry! To start, we had a few questions around how employers can offer support without overstepping and being intrusive; how have Champion Health been able to keep this balance to ensure employees feel comfortable?
Great question. Health and wellbeing, especially mental health is a very personal topic. As a team, we spent countless hours designing the platform to be engaging and user-friendly. We also brought in a Professor of Behaviour Change & Engagement to design a process that would help organisations to optimise employee engagement. Finally, we emphasise to every user that all of the data is stored securely, and companies cannot access their individual results. So far, this approach has been extremely successful.
How do you encourage colleagues to be open and honest when completing the survey?
This ties back into the first question; employees need to be confident that everything is anonymised and confidential. We have invested heavily to gain the employees’ trust by compiling pre-engagement materials bespoke to that organisation.
How can we help employers and employees see mental illness as a real, immediate battle for individuals that needs tackling rather than a general, intangible concept?
Show them the data: 112 people in the UK take their life each week. Those who are of a working age are at the highest risk of suicide (40-50 years). In the UK, you are 1,848% more likely to take your own life than die in a fire. When you add up the deaths in the UK from cervical cancer, testicular cancer, homicide, epilepsy, flu, motor neuron disease and road traffic accidents, it doesn’t even equate to suicide.
Then look at the data around the business case. Workplace health interventions yield an average 500% return on investment. When the workplace health intervention starts with a health assessment, this increases to 900%.
It is much more likely that an employee is providing another reason for their absence than ‘faking a mental health condition’. The data is overwhelming.
How do you look out for employees suffering from workplace burnout?
It can be hard as individuals at high-risk of burnout are often high functioning and extrovert. At Champion Health, we have devised a UK first algorithm which can pre-detect burnout within your employee’s lives. This factors in all areas from stress to sleep.
The key warning signs you need to look for are:
- Working very long hours
- Decrease in work performance
- How would you encourage men specifically to open up about their mental health?
This is a topic extremely close to my heart. The male suicide rate is 3x greater than females. One of the explanations for this is because males are less likely to speak when they are struggling.
The most important method to encourage men to open up is to break the stigma. The stigma towards mental health can often make mental health problems worse and create apprehension for individuals who are struggling to ‘open up’.
If I can do just this in my career, I will retire happy.
Many managers ask for more ‘practical’ tools or skills to help them with their team in general. What would you suggest as a practical measure we could take as a first step?
Start with a health assessment which provides in-depth analytics to the individual and organisation. Everything you do should be backed by research and data, in addition to be regularly evaluated.
Whether you conduct this with Champion Health or another organisation, if any workplace wants to comply with legislation, reduce the risk of suicides and generate a healthy return on investment, they should start with a health assessment.
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Harry Bliss, Champion Health
Harry Bliss is Co-Founder of Champion Health.