A Perthshire-based company has embarked on in-house mental health support for its “male-dominated” workforce, resulting in a fall in absenteeism.
Binn Group has been working with mental health support charity Speak over the last seven months to address a series of issues as part of a model that has attracted interest from other companies.
The recycling and resource management company, whose headquarters are in Glenfarg, states it has seen a 4.5% decrease in absenteeism relating to stress and anxiety along with an increase in productivity and general well-being among its workforce over five months .
Danny McAtear, Binn Group human resources manager, said 10% of its 140 employees had already come forward for an initial chat about mental health.
“The waste management industry is regarded traditionally as a tough, male-dominated environment with workers hiding their stress and emotions rather than seeking help,” he commented.
“Knowing there is someone they can speak to in private on-site – who will be understanding, supportive and non-judgemental – can make a huge difference for employees.
“Things are changing and changing for the better. I’m seeing improvements in the workforce every day.”
One-to-one peer support has been provided by Speak founder Rosie McKearnon, who has experienced her own mental health problems.
“I know how lonely and overwhelmed you can become when things get on top of you,” she said.
“Mental health problems are not something you can shake off.
“You know that when the chat in the locker room changes from ‘get a grip’ to ‘do you think I could get to speak to her too’ that we have breached the barrier.
“I think Binn Group is fairly typical in having a percentage of employees struggling with mental health issues – the problem is so widespread.
“What is different is that Binn Group decided to do something about it. They value their workers – they recognise the problems of mental health and they’ve tackled it head on with positive outcomes for everyone involved.”
Binn Group will be conducting a survey in several months’ time to identify the impact of the initiative and feel this pro-active approach has pointed the way for others.
“Human resource experts across the country are now looking at the model pioneered by Binn Group and are contacting Speak with a view to rolling it out for their own employees,” Mr McAtear said.