Started MHFA training
Piloted November 2017, rolled out February 2018
Staff trained so far
With 17,500 staff, Deloitte UK is one of the ‘Big Four’ professional services networks, providing audit, consulting, risk advisory and financial advisory services to organisations across the country. With such a large workforce, people leadership is an important focus for Deloitte and very much a priority for the firm’s managing partner for talent, Emma Codd.
Before the introduction of Mental Health First Aid, Deloitte already had in place a significant programme around mental health, which included a network of trained Mental Health Champions and a long-standing relationship with the mental health charity Mind. Deloitte wanted to focus on building mental health conversation skills amongst its leaders and increase their confidence to help team members if they were struggling.
"MHFA England training is an enabler to give our leaders the skills and confidence to provide, when needed, the right support and help our people to thrive."
After taking part in the Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index in 2016, Deloitte found that just 28% of its people who responded to the survey believed their leader would be able to spot if someone was experiencing a mental health issue.
“Our firm’s success relies on the way we lead our people and helping others to reach their potential,” says Tim Ackroyd, Employee Experience & Wellbeing Lead. “At Deloitte we are building a culture of constant opportunity and growth. If people’s mental health is impacted, they can’t make the most of those opportunities. MHFA England training is an enabler to give our leaders the skills and confidence to provide, when needed, the right support and help our people to thrive”
The professional services sector poses various challenges from a wellbeing perspective, including – like many organisations – the need for staff to manage busy jobs (including working away from their home office) alongside interests and commitments outside work. The MHFA England Half Day course was identified for their most senior leaders as a way of tackling these challenges whilst fitting into their busy, constantly-shifting schedules.
"Our people like evidence-based approaches, so Mental Health First Aid has put some great strength behind how our leaders can help support wider teams."
After a successful trial in November 2017, an Executive Committee-sponsored programme was rolled out to partners and directors across the organisation with the commitment to train at least one in four senior leaders in basic MHFA skills. The training was promoted as an enabler of the firm’s people leadership strategy. Sessions were established as a way of strengthening their leaders’ support skills with informed practices. Tim recognises that “our people like evidence-based approaches, so Mental Health First Aid has put some great strength behind how our leaders can help support wider teams. We positioned it as a key skill in becoming a better leader and the feedback is telling us that it is landing well.”
The programme was initiated with the intention of embedding it within Deloitte’s existing mental health and wellbeing structures. Tim explains, “the structure has three levels. Our own Mental Health Champions are at the top of our support structure, with MHFA trained leaders sitting just beneath that. At the foundation of our support structure is our ‘Are You OK?’ campaign which looks to build confidence in all our people to support each other by empowering them to ask that basic but important question. The campaign publicises MHFA tools designed to help all our people feel confident to spot any warning signs, ask if their colleagues are ok, start a basic mental health conversation and signpost them to our support. Our support pathways, which are publicised on our company intranet, use MHFA guidance on signposting and further employee support.”
Interest in MHFA has spread across the organisation. “We’ve had great feedback from our partners and directors, and now people at all levels are asking when they can do the training – there’s almost been too much interest!” says Tim.
Culturally, MHFA England training has helped to continue and enhance the changes that were already happening within the organisation. Confidence to spot signs of mental ill health and give appropriate advice is increasing, while stigma around the subject is gradually falling away.
Tim discussed Deloitte’s support for the recent ‘This Is Me’ campaign, which encouraged staff around the network to share personal experiences and positivity; “We were blown away by the response. Many of our people have now shared their stories on video and we lost count of the number of others sharing off-camera. Talking about your experiences has become much more normal, and while there are still pockets where it’s harder, the organisation collectively feels like a much more open place.”
This is reinforced by the increased proportion of people disclosing stress as a reason for absence (with the overall absence numbers remaining stable). Tim explains, “people feel more comfortable giving the real reason they are off work, which is an encouraging sign.”
The aspiration for Deloitte is to have at least one in four leaders at all levels trained in basic MHFA skills. The 536 senior leaders trained so far represents a commitment from the top-down, but the intention will be to extend the skills to into a whole organisational approach and embed into their leadership curriculum. Deloitte have also trained their business facing HR teams (an additional 67 people) in MHFA skills through the MHFA England One Day course. “We have some really good support in place, and there is much more to do, but we feel like we’re certainly making really good progress,” says Tim.
Deloitte is committed to taking part in the Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index every year to monitor their progress - 2019 was its third year doing so. This year’s results, both from anecdotal feedback and objective measurements, has informed the next steps of its MHFA and wider wellbeing programme.