At the Symposium Event’s conference, the Workplace Wellbeing and Stress Forum 2019, HRreview spoke to Amy Priest, wellbeing manager for UK&I at Experian.

HRreview: How has your company created a more open dialogue between your employees around mental health?

Ms Priest: We approach mental health very openly and honestly, so we like to talk to people about what matters most to them, we encourage an open dialogue as often as possible. We provide opportunities for people to talk to us or we go and talk to them. Essentially, anyway we can do, we are asking people what matters most to them. That’s how we make progress and move forward, we have lots of initiatives at the minute that people have told us that these are the areas that we need to work on and that’s how we prioritise them.

HRreview:  What are the challenges for HR professionals to prove the value of wellbeing initiatives to businesses?

Ms Priest: I think the return on investment (ROI) is a block of people progressing with wellbeing strategies. At Experian, it is something we have approached as getting the value out of talking to people and understanding what matters most to them. So if you can go to your board of directors, if you can go to your chief human resources officer (CHRO) and say to them, I have had so many conversations about what matters most to people. Then you list the actual challenges that people face day to day and say we have got actual things to improve these areas. Then that’s value-added and that’s where we see that ROI. Businesses put budget behind the work we are doing and in return, we tell them what matters most to people.

HRreview: Stress and Mental health are two of the key components to ensuring wellbeing amongst employees, should these two be the first two areas that employers focus on when considering their wellbeing strategy?

Ms Priest: They were for us, they underpin everything, so stress and mental health are the same, and when you look at wellbeing holistically mental health feeds in to every aspect. It feeds in to every aspect of wellbeing, it feeds in to every aspect of diversity and inclusion. It’s a huge topic and I would say anybody starting out in this area, make mental health your biggest priority to start.

HRreview: Are certain sectors promoting wellbeing more effectively than others?

Ms Priest: I personally am relatively new to the HR world, so answering that question I would say that the reason I got in to HR in the first place was through my work in LGBT inclusion and so I am very familiar with the sectors trying to improve the inclusion for trying to improve LGBT people in the workplace. I think if you’re starting there and making that a priority you’re probably going to make wellbeing a priority as well. So I would say the industries that are doing that really well are the banking industry, the financial industry, the public sector and universities, these are all top 100 employers for Stonewall. I would imagine that those companies and sectors are doing amazing work and just from what I am seeing on LinkedIn alone, I know that these companies are making it a huge priority and we should look to them for how we go forward with it.

Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.