By Caroline Melloy, Director, Talent Integration UK and Channel Islands and Head of Diversity & Inclusion for Europe at Royal Bank of Canada
For a long time, mental health and wellness at work were not commonly talked about. Employees didn’t feel safe voicing their suffering for fear of being stigmatised. However, the importance of well-being was propelled to the forefront of employers’ minds as the pandemic took its toll. There began to be a general social acceptance that ‘it’s OK to not be OK’ and firms actively set up initiatives to help tackle any unwellness among their employees. The latter now have the option, and are often even encouraged to, express their mental or physical illness, with robust support systems in place to help them through the trying times.
At RBC, we launched the ‘Together, we are perfectly human’ campaign which focuses on mental health and recognises that anyone can suffer from stress, anxiety, mental injury or illness, and that everyone should be able to speak openly about their mental well-being. As part of the campaign, managers were encouraged to reach out to their colleagues to initiate conversations about wellness and were equipped with tools, training and resources to help them facilitate these discussions. We’ve seen great success with the campaign which remains in place today. Since then, we’ve continued our efforts, launching several other initiatives and organising events to celebrate mental wellness and work-life balance, such as a Wellness Week in the British Isles with a series of events and webinars looking at physical, mental and nutritional health.
Lifestyles have drastically changed since the pandemic and employees, especially the younger generation, look for firms which foster a culture of compassion and understand the value of well-being. The financial services industry has had to adapt and embrace this long overdue focus on wellness and empower their employees to overcome any mental or physical adversity at the risk of losing their best talent.