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Head Office? Who are ya??!

Jun, 2020

Why Head Office?

By co-founders Laura & Carly

 

“Oh, that’s cool…”

“Really interesting…”

“Fair play…”

 

Since launching Head Office last summer, we’ve been lucky enough to have a load of people showing us support - from friends and family, to old work pals and even those random people you meet at a mate’s birthday who always politely ask; “what is it that you do, then?”.

So we tell them *deep breath*: we’ve set-up a company that delivers mental health and wellbeing support to businesses through strategic consultancy, workshops, talks and coaching for their people.  

We explain we’ve done it from scratch, using our experience in the PR and Comms industry - years of agency life running teams, managing clients, busy environments, stressful events and last minute deadlines etc etc. Over these years we learnt a shit load about the power of communication to raise awareness and challenge perception around a brand.  These are all things we think mental health is desperately in need of as sadly the fear, shame and silence surrounding it is still real.  And we hate that.

But we don’t do it on our own. Our collective of mental health and wellbeing experts are integral to what we do.  Our talented gang includes clinical psychologists, wellbeing strategists, coaches, nutritionists and sleep experts.  And we’re proud to say that since launch, it has grown every month.  Yes, we’re still early days in terms of our business, but we’re already seeing that this approach works.  Business owners appreciate working with people that ‘get’ what it’s like to work in a fast paced office environment, coupled with clinical expertise and experience around mental health. They start to see they shouldn’t be afraid of what discussing mental health will lead to because there is so much to be gained.

Then naturally we always get asked ‘why?’

Why this kind of business?  

Why now?  

Why together?  

Good question.  And there’s plenty of reasons, so if you’re interested, grab yourself a brew and get comfy...

 

THE NEED.

Mental health matters.  I know, a ground-breaking revelation from us right here to kick things off.  And a real shock that we’re the ones saying it to you.  But it’s true.  

And whilst it’s fair to say that the last few years have seen an increased awareness of mental health in the UK, as this awareness grows there needs to be proper support in place - which is where businesses come in.

Let’s cut to the chase; many businesses are not doing enough to encourage open, honest communication and practical support around mental health at work to help their employees thrive.  

This isn’t great for health, productivity or revenue, with research from the 2017 government-commissioned ‘Thriving at Work’ report indicating that the annual cost of poor mental health to employers in the UK is between £33 billion and £42 billion.  

Regardless of the flexibility afforded, most of us spend thousands of hours a year at work and it’s a no-brainer that a happy, healthy team is going to produce the best work and play their part in creating the best culture.  

But sometimes things can be tough, and people can experience poor mental health.  Maybe because of something at work, something outside of it or sometimes because of both.  

And maybe it’s for a short period.  Or maybe for a long one - mental health isn’t a static thing for anyone, so there’s a chance we can all have bad days as well as good. Just like poor physical health, poor mental health can take many shapes and forms.

And we’re not just talking about when things get to crisis point either.  Championing good health and encouraging teams to invest in their own mental wellbeing should no longer be seen as a ‘nice-to-have’ or something that gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list, but a business imperative.  

When people feel invested in at work, it shows.  As Public Health England cited last year, it’s a cycle; good worker health leads to productivity which improves business opportunities, which not only leads to improved economic development and prosperity but good social wellbeing and wealth...and so on and so forth. Lovely, eh?

Yet, the ‘Thriving at Work’ report shows that around 300,000 people with mental health problems in the UK lose their jobs each year.  This is at a much higher rate than those with physical health conditions. Not so lovely at all.

Right now, a lot of businesses just aren’t doing enough.  And we get it, for many they just don’t know where to begin. They have - what we like to call - THE FEAR.

 

THE FEAR.

A biggie for a lot of employers though it often comes from a good place.  A lack of confidence on the subject of mental health and wellbeing can lead to a fear of ‘getting it wrong’ which can delay - or worse case even prevent - helpful training, support or strategies being implemented which could benefit the whole company and cultivate a happier and healthier environment.  

Some of the biggest fears we’ve come across:

Information overload:

Uncertainty can be borne of the sheer volume of information surrounding mental health and wellbeing that’s out there.  Don’t get us wrong, knowledge is power and having reputable, accessible resources out in the public domain is a good thing. But - there’s a lot of stuff out that that can feel unrelatable to a business, and their culture.  Maybe it’s too corporate, or too ‘fluffy’.  Maybe the information available is hard to understand and seems even harder to implement.

From day one our mission has been to find the common ground.  That sweet spot of science-based, insightful support that’s relatable, engaging, normalising and empowering.  We want to leave people with knowledge and tools that make a difference and side-step box-ticking. We call it wellbeing without the waffle. 

Costing the Earth:

Honestly, supporting the mental health of your teams doesn’t have to break the bank.  Yes, there may need to be some investment but time and again, research has shown that this pays dividends to a business in terms of staff satisfaction, churn and revenue.  Whatsmore, a lot of companies already allocate dosh to stuff they think will help wellbeing, but is in fact doing very little in the great scheme of things.  With a little bit of expert guidance, this money could probably be redirected into stuff that could actually prove to be a lot more valuable. 

Going back to the drawing board:

We regularly notice a concern with business owners that imbedding proper mental health support into the company is going to mean ripping up the company culture and going back to the drawing board.

Nope. 

If you have a positive company culture, you can and should incorporate your approach to supporting mental health into it.  After all, your people who are likely to be working with you because they like what you’re about, so make your approach to mental health work for them too.  

And you know what, when you take a step back and look at what’s already in place you’re probably already doing a lot, but not shouting about in the right way.  It’s totally achievable with a bit of support to work out the rest and put in place what’s really needed.

 

THE OPPORTUNITY.

Businesses have a real opportunity to help and support their people in a way that can genuinely make a difference for the individual and the team.  People are encouraged by their bosses to bring their whole selves to work to help the company fly.  But if they do that, then the company needs to support the lows as well as embracing the highs.

When businesses think about money and mental health, they mainly think about what’s coming out of their pockets.  But we like to remind them of what’s going back in their purse.  £9 for every £1 spent to be precise (as revealed in Deloitte research, 2017).  And thinking with a wider social conscience, Public Health England has estimated there’s a saving of £2.37 to society for every quid spent.  And let’s not even get started on all the research that has shown the positive impact that supporting mental health and wellbeing can have on presenteeism, absenteeism and resourcing.

Also, while we’re here talking ‘opportunity’, let’s get a bit personal. Head Office is an opportunity for us, as two best mates, to work together on something we really believe in.  How often do chances like that come along?   It’s graft, and running a start-up is filled with highs and lows (sometimes at the same moment!), but we’re passionate and grateful to be doing this together.

 

THE HOPE.

Ah, last but by no means least, there’s hope.   We were motivated to set-up Head Office because we were, and still are, very hopeful (and passionate, and motivated).

It’s not all doom and gloom – the conversation is moving.  The needle is shifting.  And attitudes to supporting mental health at work are gradually changing.  Attention continues to focus on business owners to support and create environments that help people to thrive.  Businesses just need to have a mindful approach and not knee-jerk their investment into misguided support that - as nice as it may sound - has no meaningful or longer-term impact.

And the appetite is there.  Already we’ve met and worked with businesses that ‘get it’.  They know they need to do something and they want to work with us to make sure what that ‘something’ is makes sense for their people.  

Sure, there’s still plenty more to do.  We hope for the day where us Brits are as comfortable talking about mental health as we are about the weather. And with our hope comes excitement.  

And that excitement fuels our fire to play a part in the change. 

We’re well up for it.  And if you’re a mental health expert or work for a company that may be up for it too, we’d love to chat.


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