We’re committed to caring for our people and growing with them. As one of the UK’s largest employers, we’re consistently evolving our approach to wellbeing to create a welcoming and psychologically safe culture around mental health.
Our mission is to add healthy years to the lives of our people, unlocking untapped human potential for our business and our world. We continue to remain focused on building anytime, anywhere tools and resources to meet the varied needs of our people and to promote healthier habits to better enable and empower our Unilever family to thrive.Dr Diana Han - Chief Health & Wellbeing Officer
According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in six adults in the UK meet the criteria for a common mental health problem every week, with mental health problems reported as the biggest contributor to ill-health.
Unilever UK & Ireland is committed to supporting our people so they can bring their whole selves to work and thrive both inside and outside of the workplace. In 2022, we signed the Mental Health at Work Commitment, recognising the importance of promoting and showing our commitment to supporting mental health.
Our wellbeing strategy focuses on four aspects of employee health: mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, and a sense of purpose.
The key areas of wellbeing are interlinked – you cannot look after one effectively without looking after the others too. Rather than targeting any one issue with our strategy, we chose to incorporate a person’s entire wellbeing.Nikki Kirbell, UKI Health and Wellbeing Manager, explaining our holistic approach
Key to our wellbeing framework is our commitment to ensure our people only ever being one call, one click or one chat from support - all of our employees have access to free, confidential and always-on mental health care.
Here are the steps we’re taking to show our commitment to mental health:
Prioritising mental health in the workplace
- We create a culture of psychological safety through mental health line manager training across all our UK and Ireland sites, which aims to reduce the stigma around mental health by supporting colleagues to speak openly about their health.
- We aim to improve the health, wellbeing and quality of life of our colleagues through individualised care, wide-ranging resources and specific, tailored site and community solutions.
- We maintain a drumbeat of communications relating to mental health awareness and support throughout the year, promoting the wide range of resources and support available.
- Our Health and Wellbeing Hub is an always-on channel for sharing information and signposting to services employees can make use of.
Ensuring work design and culture drives positive mental health outcomes
To make a real difference on mental health, the focus needs to shift from reactive to preventative.
As a purposeful business with purposeful brands, we encourage our people to bring their purpose into their work and goals. Our in-house ‘Discover your Purpose’ workshop gives people the opportunity to identify their personal purpose and put it at the heart of their development and career.
We’ve seen that people who are able to bring their personal purpose into their working environment feel more engaged and positive about their wellbeing and development. So far, over 55,000 of our employees have discovered their purpose worldwide.
Accepting that some of the challenges our people face, which can impact mental health, are felt outside of the workplace, Unilever in the UK offers a range of industry-leading, family-friendly and flexible working policies, which enable our employees to balance their working responsibilities with their personal priorities. That's why we offer guidance and support for every part of this; whether that’s leading edge parental leave offerings for those expecting an addition to their family, support for parents and carers, and fertility-related support.
Promoting an open culture around mental health and providing mental health tools and support
We encourage our leaders to begin all team meetings with a check-in and give colleagues an opportunity to flag any wellbeing concerns. Psychological safety training is offered to all of our line managers and colleagues.
Some of our tools and support include:
- The Employee Assistance Programme, which provides 24/7 access to employees and their immediate family, including support on bereavement, relationship issues, anxiety and depression, coping with stress, line manager support, financial advice and more.
- Free access to Babylon Digital GP for 24/7 support.
- Members of our Bupa healthcare scheme can access direct support for any issues relating to mental health without the need of a GP referral.
- Free access to Headspace app for sleep, anxiety, stress and mindfulness tools.
- Free access to Sleepstation for access to sleep coaches, medical doctors and sleep experts to improve sleep quality.
We provide tailored support in areas which may require additional wellbeing care including menopause, fertility, separation/divorce, safeguarding and support for carers. Looking outwards and contributing to wider society, we can also harness the power of our brands to do good, such as the Dove Self-Esteem project, which seeks to build self-esteem in young people.
Our network of mental health champions: the Time to Talk Team
4,000 employees volunteer globally to be Mental Health Champions so they can support our employees with peer-to-peer listening and signpost to resources.
In the UK and Ireland, our Mental Health Champions, who all undergo mental health first aid training and regular re-training, are known as the Time to Talk team; every UK and Ireland site has Time to Talk representation. Their support ranges from having an initial conversation through to signposting the person to get appropriate help. On average, our Time to Talk team facilitate over 2,000 hours of mental health conversations with colleagues each year.
We are proud of how we support our people and continue to evolve based on employee feedback, data and changing needs where mental health awareness and the confidence to have wellbeing conversations is embedded within our culture, ensuring we all grow together.