Transurban is a major infrastructure company that develops and manages urban toll roads in Australia and the US.
As a top 20 ASX company with over 1,500 employees across Australia, on-site and off, Transurban created a mental health program called the Mind Program to help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
The Mind Program was triggered by Transurban’s Employee Opinion Surveys (EOS) which found employees were increasingly looking for greater support around stress, work/life balance, and advice around family and friends.
According to SANE Australia, one in five people suffer from symptoms of mental illness in any given year. Illnesses like depression and anxiety are the most common and contribute to presenteeism – turning up to work but having reduced productivity. Running across September and October each year, the Mind Program, draws on the momentum of awareness days like RUOK? Day in September and World Mental Health Day in October to create a focused period of time for mental health.
Over this period, employees are invited to participate in resilience training programs which address stress, unhelpful thinking styles and the importance of exercise and eating well; mindfulness workshops; and are encouraged to grab a coffee with a colleague to talk about mental health.
Kate Wursthorn, Wellbeing Adviser at Transurban said on top of this, 60 employees across Transurban have been trained as mental health first aid officers, giving regular employees the skills to recognise the signs of those struggling.
Similar to posters that indicate fire wardens, Transurban have used posters to indicate who mental health first aid officers are in the workplace for employees to contact.
“It demonstrates that people have a range of people to contact,” Ms Wursthorn said.
Although at first employees were nominated to undertake the mental health first aid training, employees are increasingly nominating themselves to undertake the two-day training program.
Ms Wursthorn said there was growing expectation in the workplace for employers to support employee mental health.
“People want us to be doing things in this area,” she said.
Transurban dedicate two months at a time to concentrate on four areas of wellbeing: mind, body, connected (involves volunteering) and reward and recognition.
This is consistent with the latest research from Reventure. The Workplace Wellbeing report shows 42 per cent define wellbeing as having found balance across physical, mental, social and spiritual life and 33 per cent define wellbeing as when they feel physically and mentally fit and well.
According to Transurban’s 2017 Sustainability Report, 80 per cent of employees say they are proud to work at Transurban.
Ms Wursthorn said part of the success has been the top-down approach led by Chief Financial Officer, Adam Watson who is also Transurban’s Wellbeing Ambassador.
This year, the Mind Program was a finalist in the AHRI awards for the Allan Fels AO Mental Health in the Workplace Award.
DID YOU KNOW?
Unrealistic workload expectations have the most negative impact on wellbeing in the workplace? This is according to Reventure’s survey of more than 1,000 Australian workers (Workplace Wellbeing).