The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) takes the health and well-being of its employees very seriously and has a number of measures in place to promote good mental health and well-being. These include policies and guidance specifically targeted at promoting mental health and well-being within the Department, as well as a variety of wider measures that contribute to this agenda. These include the following:
Creating a culture of openness and support
BIS wants all of its employees to feel safe to discuss mental health problems without fear of stigma, harassment or isolation. We provide guidance for individuals and line managers on our intranet pages in order to raise their awareness of mental health and other well-being issues and to provide support and information when needed. This guidance covers a range of health and well-being issues, including health fact sheets on a variety of mental health conditions. This is supported by an annual 'wellbeing week' (usually in November), during which we run a series of workshops, events and seminars on various aspects of well-being.
BIS employees all have access to our Employee Assistance Programme, a dedicated information and counselling support service. In addition the Department has a Disability Advisory Group, which includes a sub-group specifically dedicated to mental health issues. BIS also has a medical adviser, who helps the Department to consider reasonable adjustments for employees when required and makes suggestions as to things which might make it easier for them to carry out their duties.
Promoting a good work/life balance
BIS offers a range of flexible working options to help its employees to have a healthy and fulfilled life both inside and outside of work. These include home working, part-time working, compressed hours, term time/annualised hours, flexi time and job sharing arrangements. In addition BIS provides paid and unpaid time off to support work-life balance such as career breaks of up to three years, generous maternity, paternity and adoption leave and paid special leave (five days) to cover emergencies such as a breakdown in caring arrangements.
Job-related support for employees
All BIS staff have access to appropriate training, on-the-job support and are given the opportunity to participate in the department's mentoring scheme. The learning and development offer for all staff includes an e-learning module on equality and diversity, which all employees are strongly encouraged to undertake.
Encouraging good relationships
BIS's work on health and well-being is supported by our values and behaviours, which help to ensure that all staff are clear about what is expected of them and the types of behaviours that the Department considers unacceptable. Many of our policies, for example on discipline, harassment and bullying, also contribute to the mental health and well-being agenda and provide clear signposts and advice for employees who feel they are being harassed or bulled in the workplace.
Measuring mental health and well-being
We have recently conducted a telephone campaign across the Department to increase the proportion of staff who declare their diversity information on our HR system. This will enable us to better assess the impact of our policies on different groups of staff, including those with mental health issues. In addition BIS will be participating in the civil service wide People Survey in October, which will include some new questions aimed at measuring overall well-being across Departments.