“Leeds City Council has the potential to be a powerful force for change in the city”
As the city’s biggest employer, Leeds City Council has put the positive promotion of mental health in the workplace at the heart of its agenda.
The council signed the MINDFUL EMPLOYER charter in 2011. As part of an ongoing process of embedding the aspirations of the charter, Leeds City Council’s HR team has also been working closely with Leeds Mind/WorkPlace Leeds to tackle stigma and address any issues as they arise.
As a result of this project, the following goals have been agreed:
To seek out and identify good practice across the organisation, and ensure this is shared as widely as possible through internal communications systems.
To encourage managers to engage with job retention specialists at WorkPlace Leeds if one of their team is off on long-term sick leave due to mental ill-health
To explore the feasibility of ‘skills for managers’ training being offered throughout the organisation, complementing the existing training offer.
To explore options for consulting with staff about how to embed the commitment to MINDFUL EMPLOYER
To review written and verbal communication regarding absence management to ensure that individuals feel supported by the organisation.
Leeds City Council hosts a Disabled Staff Network (DSN) which is open to any member of staff with a disability, including mental health difficulties. The DSN provides a forum for staff to identify issues and work towards resolving these together with the management team. The DSN also promotes positive practice within the council. In 2014 a ‘Be Reasonable’ event was organised by the DSN together with HR to promote the understanding and uptake of reasonable adjustments.
Other events organised by the council include an annual Carers’ Fair, offering staff who are in a caring role the opportunity to access additional support, and a Health Fair, which focuses on wellbeing and promoting positive lifestyle choices.
Staff can also access support through an Employee Assistance Programme, (EAP) provided by Help, which offers 1:1 counselling and a helpline, amongst other services.
The council’s absence management lead, Susan Barber, is part of the Leeds MINDFUL EMPLOYER steering group and has been influential in developing the MINDFUL EMPLOYER strategy for the city. The steering group is chaired by Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, who is also committed to promoting good practice within the organisation.
As an employer, the council has the potential to be a powerful force for change in Leeds. As an organisation, Leeds City Council is hugely influential in setting the agenda for other employers in the city to take a more positive attitude to mental health.