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Playing our Part: Championing our people and their wellbeing this World Mental Health Day

So, we’re excited to announce our involvement in a news-style programme #PlayYourPart, in partnership with ITN Business and Mental Health UK. This film promotes the important role businesses play in protecting and improving the mental wellbeing of their people. And it highlights how we are playing our part to create a society that better supports mental wellness.  

We’re focused on creating an environment where people feel supported all the time - no matter what they’re going through and no matter where they are in the world.  We encourage people to bring their whole selves to work, and we have implemented an innovative data-led approach to wellbeing, which enables us to provide more tailored assistance to support resilience.

Don’t take it from us, hear from our colleagues Lucy, Richard, Sonia and Andrew on how we support our people. 

In this Q&A we delve into our innovative approach to wellbeing with Sonia Jenkins, Head of Reward, Wellbeing and Inclusion, while Andrew Chorlton, our Global Head of Fixed Income and senior sponsor of Schroders Minds (our mental health employee-led network) shares his personal learnings from some of our research. Lucy Moore, Business Manager, opens up about her complicated mental health journey and the support she receives from Schroders, encouraged by Richard Dyson, Head of Content, who emphasises the importance of honest and open conversations in building a supportive culture.

Can you tell us about your mental health experience and the support you’ve had?

LucyI’ve had a complicated chronic mental health journey from the age of 14, but a couple of years ago I finally got a diagnosis of bipolar II disorder. But support at work has made it much easier for me to manage.

I’ve had access to doctors, health insurance, those sorts of things, which have been fantastic. But also it's been the conversations I've been able to have with managers and colleagues as well.

Why are honest conversations important to you?

Lucy: I’ve had the confidence to open up with colleagues and get the support I need. I was off the last couple of weeks on a holiday, and I became unwell and had a bipolar episode. When I came back, I felt very comfortable just to speak to people about it. When they asked me, how was your holiday? I was like, well, I was really ill actually.

Why is it important to create an open and supportive environment?

Richard: Lucy’s account shows the importance of creating an environment where everyone gets the support needed to thrive.

We want people like Lucy to stay with the business because they can contribute so much. So of course, we're going to be flexible and as adaptable as we can to get people like her back. 

And it's not only for that reason. It creates a culture that engenders loyalty. It enables people to feel like they can bring themselves to work if they can talk frankly about their problems. It shows mental health is not a barrier to contributing successfully to this kind of business.

What’s Schroders’ approach to wellbeing?

Sonia: Back in 2015 was the first time we launched a wellbeing strategy. We offer a lot of well-being benefits including gym access, health insurance, cognitive behavioural therapy, a 24-hour global support hotline for employees and their families. We have a growing calendar of wellbeing events, employee-led resource groups, and run awareness and training programmes for managers and mental health first aiders, who are on hand to provide non-judgmental support.

But we wanted to elevate what we were offering, not just to help people when they're unwell but to elevate it to help people to proactively remain fit healthy and happy with us. We want our people to think about mental wellbeing like physical wellbeing. You go to the gym for your physical health, so what are you doing for your mental wellbeing and making sure you stay healthy?

What is next for wellbeing at Schroders?

Sonia: Wellbeing is so personal, mental health is so personal, it's not one size fits all. We understand we need to have all the wellbeing benefits to foster a well culture. But we also understand we need the tools and the data to be way more sophisticated in quickly identifying where there's an issue and what might be the cause of that issue. That way we can provide more tailored support to individuals and teams.

To support this approach, we’ve been conducting resilience research using the Human Sustainability Index – a technology-led assessment to improve wellbeing and resilience.

How does the Human Sustainability Index study work?

Andrew: Volunteers have their heart rate variability measured to understand how their body reacts through the stresses and strains of life’s challenges, and importantly, how quickly they recover from stress. The resilience research also assesses eight different areas of volunteers’ lives, for example from mental wellbeing to physical health, to how engaged we are with our local communities.

The study looked at the wider person and recognised that what they're doing at home affects what they do at work, and vice versa. If we can understand how to support people more broadly, then they'll hopefully be stronger as a result, more resilient as a result.

What did you learn?

Andrew: When I did the study, I'd just moved to a new area, so I just had work and family in my life and that was it.  And the one thing I scored really poorly on was community. I’ve always been interested in volunteering in my community, so I found a new opportunity close to home and suddenly I had this third element to my life. It was nothing to do with work, but I do think it's made me more resilient and balanced in how I approach work.

What impact has it had on your team?

Andrew: We got some really interesting feedback from people in the business, including one individual that reached out for help and it literally said in the comments section of the assessment “I need help…” For me that was worth it, that one individual, as we could work with them to understand what tailored support we could put in place to help them thrive.


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