On October 10th, we commemorate the World Day of Mental Health with the objective of raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilising efforts to improve them. This year, it arrives in a moment in which our daily lives have been significantly altered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regardless of where we are, this global ‘new normal’ has completely changed the dynamics of our day to day, especially those related to our working life. On one side, some people adapted seamlessly to connecting from home. They managed their schedules in their own way, enjoyed the freed-up time by not commuting and used their self-autonomy to be more efficient, more productive. But there is also the other side of the coin, those who lack contact with colleagues, not changing context throughout the day or not having marked working schedules took their toll.
At present, some of our locations have authorised the return to the office under certain security protocols and always respecting the guidelines and recommendations of the local authorities. However, feelings such as fear, sadness or anxiety continue to cast a shadow over the mental and emotional state of many workers from and outside our organisation. This can be overwhelming and generate strong emotions. We all react differently.
Our commitment to mental wellbeing
We are dedicated to continually protecting and promoting our people’s, contractors’ and clients’ physical and mental wellness throughout all our activities. Our people are our main asset. In the same way that businesses that sell plant or equipment have preventive maintenance programmes to preserve their assets, we support our personnel by monitoring and treating their mental wellbeing throughout the organisation. The key to being successful is communication.
We all need someone to talk to. Communication is a two-way street: there is talking and listening involved. It is very important that all of our employees recognise that they can talk and be heard when they need to.
“Linxon was one of the first EPC companies to recognise mental health as a key contributor towards success. Through past collaboration with our peers, we saw a dedicated mental health HSE Week this year”, said Christoffel Swanepoel, Head of Quality and Sustainability. “Our next step is to correct the misconception that people shouldn’t talk about their problems. In Linxon we talk about it and we listen.”
COVID-19 Portal on the intranet
COVID-19 Portal started as an initiative of Linxon’s senior management with the objective of keeping our people informed. This Portal integrates news, resources and data provided by governments and international health-oriented institutions, articles of interest, announcements from our management and other relevant information related to the pandemic.
From webinars and training modules to virtual discussions and personnel surveys, we have created spaces for the information exchange between specialists, leaders and members of our organisation at all levels.
We seek to keep our people informed, yes, but also to learn about their concerns, doubts and expectations. The constant feedback from our work teams has allowed us to integrate and develop this type of practice more effectively. Our ultimate goal is to maintain constant multidirectional communication at the same level, which includes all of us who conform Linxon.
HSE Week 2020
On September 21-24 we celebrated our Linxon HSE Week 2020, a series of webinar sessions that sought to promote mental wellbeing through our association with the SNC-Lavalin’s Employee Assistance Programme. These webinars, our most recent mental health internal event example, were designed to drive engagement and to shed some light on various mental wellbeing topics that will resonate with our everyday personal or work life.
In addition to the abovementioned, we cannot fail to mention those local initiatives from our personnel given their excellent results.
Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs)
Last May we had the opportunity to dedicate a short article to our Mental Health Awareness Week, with main emphasis to our network of MHFAs in UK, initiative conducted in collaboration with Atkins. As a MHFA, each volunteer is trained to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, intervene and respond appropriately until the person in need receives professional attention.
We currently have 10 trained MHFAs based throughout Linxon UK, providing first-line support for any colleague experiencing mental health or emotional distress issues. It is a very successful initiative and we are currently exploring similar initiatives in our other geographies.
(If you missed the article, you can read it here).
Since the beginning of this year, our different leaders have been organising their work teams to participate in virtual discussion sessions. These sessions can address a topic related to one of our pillars, such as health and safety, integrity or, of course, mental wellbeing. The ultimate goal is to gain a deeper understanding of their teams’ perceptions, clarify their doubts, questions or simply provide them with relevant information.
Our trained personnel constantly circulate and share relevant material among their work teams. These presentations seek to enhance the employee’s self-evaluation in relation to their own mental wellbeing, explain certain emotions that could be confusing and provide contact information from local institutions, in case the person requires more specialised attention.
Mental health deserves our attention and for good reasons. When we feel comfortable with ourselves, not only do we manage better the difficulties that may arise, but we also cultivate more easily habits, gestures and even positive ideas. Remember that there is no one right way to cope, and each person deals with stress and strong emotions differently. This is relevant in any context, but very especially in these times of pandemic.