OSB Group

'Everyone deals with obstacles differently and displays different signs when under pressure'

During Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, OSB Group is highlighting key support available and offering a range of different activities for staff to take part in.

The group has a strong focus on looking after its employees, and this is evidenced in the culture we harness and the support available to all.

Signs of someone struggling can be complex as everyone deals with obstacles differently and displays different signs when under pressure. Some people may be falling behind in their work or dropping tasks, others might bury themselves under work to keep busy. Like many other organisations within the sector and in other industries, OSB Group provides a broad benefits package for all of its staff, such as an employee assistance programme, counselling and support, and private medical care, just to name a few. We’ve recently trained our first cohort of internal mental health first aider volunteers, who are on hand to help listen without judgement and signpost available support via both professional and charitable organisations. And we aren’t finished there; this is a continual journey that will develop and evolve to support employees through both their working day and also with any personal situations, too. 

We are also lucky enough to have a number of colleagues who are comfortable to share their own mental health journeys and stories. During National Inclusion Week, we had a cross-section of people across the business talking about a range of mental health experiences, from family breakdowns and bereavement to depression. It’s all about promoting that it’s okay to talk by offering personal stories from colleagues in the company, which helps resonate with people —including senior members of staff discussing their own experiences. This is part of creating a culture where people feel comfortable to reach out to members of the organisation, regardless of level or job title, to relate to their stories.

It’s been a huge step forward in removing stigma around the topic, and something we continue to run. 

Denise Claxton is our group HR manager and has said: “Where possible, members of staff at OSB Group have moved to hybrid working practices following the pandemic.

Creating a better work/life balance is a key aim, and there has been increased policy enhancements, such as flexible working, condensed working weeks, days off for IVF treatment, and miscarriage leave, to name a few.”

Carly Spittle, senior people development manager, added: “There has also been a drive in awareness around menopause. We’ve worked with Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace to provide training sessions for staff and managers around the topical subject. Like mental health, menopause is a subject that has historically not been talked about, but it’s something that many of our employees deal with, whether themselves or someone they know. We want to remove barriers and provide support to our teams.”

In the coming weeks, employees will also be offered yoga classes and breathing workshops, all to promote and equip colleagues with tools and techniques to help look after their mental wellbeing.

We’re all building a great company here, and to do that you need to have great people on the team. Looking after their health and wellbeing is not only ethically correct for a company to undertake, but it also makes good business sense. 

When we truly value, look after and support our staff and create an environment where they feel valued, I believe we are opening the door to a fully engaged workforce. This is really important stuff when you’re building a company that positions itself as a leading specialist lender. I believe most of us can bring 70-80% of ourselves to our roles and to get the job done ‘good enough’. What we really want is to create an environment where people voluntarily bring that extra 20-30% of effort that, in turn, makes the company ‘great’.

You can’t tell people to do this — it’s purely at their discretion. We’re not perfect, and there is still a journey to be had. But I think this sort of work is a really important step in creating that environment. A supportive, nurturing culture that truly cares about not only your work life, but understands how personal lives also demands their attention too, is a nicer place to work and creates a great company at the same time!

At OSB Group, we are actively backing Mental Health Awareness Week and the aid provided by Mental Health Foundation. There are many ways companies can support their employee’s mental health and wellbeing, no matter what size business they are, and even on a shoestring budget. Visit the Mental Health Foundation website for information and resources.

When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at [email protected], or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

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