Five Years of Healthy Workplace Status – We Won Gold… again!

Forms Plus Team Walk

The health and wellbeing of our staff has always been a priority for Forms Plus.  For the past 5 years, we have taken part in the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Healthy Workplace Award. We are delighted to announce that we have just been re-awarded our Gold status for the next two years.

At the Awards Ceremony on the 9th March, our team were acknowledged for the extent to which mental and physical wellbeing has been ingrained into our business culture and ethos.  The Award recognises that the Forms Plus Directors are committed to looking after their team and consider staff wellbeing a vital part of running a successful business. 

Like many of our clients, our day to day work is mostly sedentary.  Based behind a computer, taking care of the print and packaging requirements of our customers, it can be easy for the hours to pass by without much in the way of physical activity.  Particularly in the dark and stormy winter months, it is all too easy to go without natural light or fresh air.  At this time of year, we can also easily fall into the trap of indulging in sweet treats, eating at our desks and making our way through pots of coffee! The activities we have introduced to help us win, and keep, our Healthy Workplace Gold Award have given us the motivation and opportunity to break many of those bad habits.

Forms Plus Team Walk
Forms Plus Team Walk

Some of the highlights of our first year as a Healthy Workplace Gold Award Winner have included fun activities and exercises, training sessions to learn more about workplace health, and awareness campaigns. 

“I enjoy the team walks, where you can chat to a colleague from a different area of the business you might not necessarily chat to often. I also enjoy that every month is different – whether it be a team challenge, volunteering or a discussion around a certain topic.” – Sharon

One of the toughest challenges for some of the Forms Plus team was the British Heart Foundation De-Chox challenge.  This meant going a whole month without eating any chocolate, quite an achievement for some of the sweet-tooths in the office.  One member of our team, Ian, who joined us last July and was the only smoker at Forms Plus, took up an even greater challenge.  With support from the whole team, he successfully gave up smoking for Stoptober and now says quitting smoking is the best thing he has done in years – apart from changing jobs!

“The support I received for “Dechox” was great and similarly the support provided to those completing Stoptober was fantastic.’ – Kayley

Sharon and Jo receiving our Gold Award

Other campaigns we have taken part in included the Ask Twice mental health campaign, Sugar Smart and Keep Active.  As part of Keep Active, we ran on “On Your Feet!” day.  On the hour, every hour, the office was filled with the sound of James Brown singing “Get up offa that thing” and the team took part in two minutes of exercise.  Using (safely!) some of our fabulous new warehouse space, we took part in games such as balloon keepy-uppy, Malteser blowing races, target ball throwing and football games. 

Making the most of our surroundings in beautiful Cornwall, we also get outside whenever we can.  Team Walks, to support both our physical and mental health, are a common lunchtime activity. We also took part in a beach clean at Poldhu Beach.

Perhaps less fun, but just as vital, we have had the opportunity for Health Checks at work, over 40s checks, menopause information sessions and ongoing challenges to keep active and hydrated throughout the day.  Small, sustainable behaviour changes, such as making sure we drink enough water by using marked-up water bottles and encouraging each other to get out for a walk at lunchtime can lead to healthier habits that are life-changing. These adjustments are easy to do but have an important, positive impact on our long-term health.

“Outside of work, I try to keep fit as much as I can and also like healthy eating, so I really enjoy continuing these activities at work. Some of my favourites are the sharing healthy lunch days, team activities such as the Cornwall Beach Games and our regular weight checks.”- Evi

Forms Plus Karting Trip
Forms Plus Karting Challenge

Participation in our Healthy Workplace activities is never mandatory, and we do not pressure anyone to take part but most of the time we do find everyone is keen to get involved and finds it valuable. The activities help us bond as a team and get to know each other, beyond the day to day conversations we would normally have as colleagues.  This then means we can support each other better, through the natural physical and mental health issues that pop up in all our lives from time to time. 

Plans for the next few months, to make sure we live up to our Gold Award, include revisiting sun safety (when it gets warm enough!) and having a look into our sleep patterns.  We are also running a company WhatsApp group sharing healthy recipes and giving each other new ideas for weekday dinners.  This has led to challenges for “Meat Free Mondays” and colourful fruit and veg meals. 

Whilst we are proud of our Award, none of this is about winning prizes or recognition.  What matters most is that the ideas generated by taking part in the programme are helping make all of us healthier, inside and outside of work, and hopefully making us happier as a result. 

Committing to a Healthy Workplace involves more than just the occasional fun event. It needs to be firmly embedded in team culture and is something we discuss even at the employee interview stage.  If you would like to find out more about how we have achieved that, and keep it going, do get in touch. We’d be happy to share our experiences and have a chat about how they might help your organisation.

Read more about the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Healthy Workplace Scheme, and view our Case Study, on their website www.behealthyatwork.org .

Improving Mental Health at Work

Mental Health First Aiders

How Our Mental Health First Aiders Have Helped Support Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace

As you have read in previous blogs, at Forms Plus we take our health and wellbeing seriously.  Earlier this year we were delighted to receive a Healthy Workplace Gold Award in recognition of the actions we have taken as a team to promote good health at work.

Alongside our efforts to improve our physical health, we have also started to pay more attention to supporting mental health at work. With the WHO marking World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September,  and World Mental Health Day coming up on the 10th October, this seemed like a good time to share our learnings.

The Office for National Statistics recently released figures (reported in The Guardian) announcing that the rate of suicides in the UK in 2018 was up 11.8% on the previous year with 6,507 suicides recorded.  Suicide is the leading cause of death in England in adults younger than 50 and the rate is around three times higher amongst men.  For every person that takes their life, another 10–20 will make a suicide attempt.

Very often suicide is linked to an existing mental health condition, but often it occurs following some kind of traumatic experience, which can be related to the workplace. The TUC and the Samaritans have found that contributing factors to workplace stress, which might lead to such an event, include job insecurity, restructuring and downsizing and zero hours contracts.

Healthy Workplace Gold Award

Sometimes the contributing factors can be less dramatic. Issues can also arise from feeling pressure to meet sales targets, hit deadlines or compete with others who seem to be having more success.  Stress, anxiety and depression are the biggest causes of sickness absence in the workplace, so there is also an operational benefit to addressing these issues.

Regardless of whether work is a major cause of someone’s mental health problems, we spend much of our lives at work, so employers and colleagues can clearly take steps to support mental wellbeing, and perhaps, contribute to suicide prevention. At Forms Plus we decided to do that by appointing and training two Mental Health First Aiders.

Sharon and Jo both completed the 3-day course a few months ago.  Focussing on listening and offering direction, the training gave them both the confidence to take on the role and our team have really started to feel the benefit.

Sometimes being a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA), just means keeping an active eye out for someone who may need a bit of extra support.  If a team member looks as if they are having a bad day, the MHFA may email them privately to see if they fancy a short walk and talk.  Sharon tells us that this offer is often picked up right away.  Sometimes the person approached might initially decline, then come back later and take the opportunity for a chat.   The most important part of the MHFA role is then to be a good, calm listener.

Mental Health First Aiders

As well as keeping an eye out for people who may need support, at Forms Plus we also try to pre-empt any problems through our “Well Walks”. The MHFA simply picks a name out of a hat and goes for a short walk with the colleague chosen, which could be anyone.  The walk could just be an opportunity for some fresh air and exercise, or a chat about what they are doing at the weekend, but it also provides a chance to discuss family or relationship issues, workplace challenges, or anything else that might be impacting on mental health.

Whilst the emphasis for the MHFA is on listening rather than solving problems, their role also extends to offering direction as to where to go for support.  When Jo and Sharon come across a problem, they will often do some research and provide links or phone numbers that may help.  Sharon explains that whilst of course the team member could often find that information themselves, having someone pass on a website or phone number might give them the push they need to actually get in touch.

Forms Plus lunchtime walk

Normally the relationship between the MHFA and the person they are helping is based on full confidentiality.  The only exception to this might be if the person is seriously at risk, or if the mental health issue could be helped by changes in the workplace. If Jo or Sharon believe that sharing the information with someone else at work might help, they will always suggest the team member speaks to the right person, or ask permission to do that for them if they prefer.

We are really happy to have Mental Health First Aiders at Forms Plus.  Posters in our staff areas remind us that there is always someone to speak to.  They are both very approachable, calm and caring.  Whether we choose to seek out MHFA support or not, having two trained Mental Health First Aiders on our team has opened up discussions and given us all the feeling that it is OK to talk about mental health in the workplace. Sharon and Jo both enjoy the work and especially love seeing the transformation when they have been able to help someone.

If you would like to find out more about Mental Health First Aid training do visit the MHFA website or to download a really useful Activity Pack for Workplaces marking World Mental Health Day ,visit the Time to Change website.

Alternatively get in touch and Sharon or Jo would be happy to talk to you about their experience.