HEALTH: Dorset brewer offers mental heath and wellbeing support to team members


Hall & Woodhouse, the leading independent family-owned Dorset brewer, has launched a stress and wellbeing survey, that is open to all team members across the business.

The confidential online wellbeing survey is designed to measure levels of pressure across peoples’ lives, including at home and in the workplace.

Team members receive a personalised report after completing the survey which highlights the areas of their home or work life that may be under pressure, then recommends relevant resources and support to help reduce these pressures.

Managing Director of Hall & Woodhouse, Matt Kearsey, explained: “Mental health is a very real problem with one in four people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year.

“At Hall & Woodhouse we are committed to providing mental health support to all team members and creating an environment where people feel they can talk about their mental health.

“Especially as we head towards the Christmas season, when so often the pressures we face are magnified and it is the busiest time of year for people working in hospitality.”

image of Matt Kearsey, Managing Director of Hall & Woodhouse

Matt Kearsey, Managing Director of Hall & Woodhouse

Across the UK, around 15.8 million sick days are taken by employees for mental health reasons, in Dorset this is around 171,000 days (recorded in 2017/18), costing Dorset businesses around £18.5m from those who take days off due to work related stress and anxiety.

Cause for concern

Workplace stress can be caused by many things, and it may seem obvious but often people do not realise their stressors until they burn out (become too overwhelmed by the stress).

High demands at work such as long hours, a heavy work load and unrealistic deadlines can put too much stress on an employee, if they continue doing their job without enough training or support, or they feel they have no control over how they work this can also cause stress.

Relationships at work are another stressor, if relationships turn sour or they feel they are being bullied this can cause someone anxiety about going in and being around those people, and also the fear or being laid off or not earning enough money.

Employers and colleagues should look out for arguments, increased absence and decreased performance, as well as changed in an individual such as acting more nervous, mood swings, being withdrawn or a loss of motivation as all these can be signs of stress in a team or an employee.

image of a man holding up a red sign with an unhappy face on it

Too much stress can lead to poor mental health

Once all of the survey’s findings have been collated, Hall & Woodhouse will produce a calendar of wellbeing events for the next year that will be tailored to help reduce the pressures being faced by team members.

Other ways that employers can help with stress and mental health is to communicate effectively and openly with employees and colleagues, deal with any conflicts that may arise in a quick and fair way, avoid unrealistic deadlines and demands, clarify their expectations and implement rewards and incentive schemes to keep workers motivated and increase morale.

Employees can also do some things to help alleviate their own stress such as reaching out to co-workers, friends and families, and communicate with employers about any reasonable adjustments that could be made.

Exercise and nutrition is also important; aerobic exercise that raises your heart rate is good for increasing energy levels and getting serotonin flowing, and calming exercises like yoga can help focus the mind, avoiding too much sugar and caffeine and increasing Omega-3 fatty acids can also help.

Better sleep, prioritising tasks and breaking bad habits such as perfectionism and negative thinking are also good ways to reduce the pressure on yourself and lower stress levels.

The Health and Safety Executive has a guide on reducing stress in the workplace, to read it visit their site here.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has a health and wellbeing strategy that businesses can use to help their employees, as well as holding events for business leaders to attend to discuss and teach ways in which mental health can be tackled in the workplace.

The Institute of Directors (IOD) launched their Inclusive Business campaign in May, part of which covers mental health and stress in the workplace to help managers and directors to implement diverse and inclusive policies and practices within their business.

Mental Health First Aid

Hall & Woodhouse has also invested in mental health first aid training, with 15 qualified first aiders throughout the company having completed the accredited training, provided by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), who the IOD and CBI also work with.

Matt Kearsey added: “Our mental health first aiders are the first point of contact for any team member who maybe is experiencing a mental health problem, or if they are concerned for a colleague’s wellbeing.

“They are there to listen and to help refer team members to relevant support when they need it.”

The brewery, who also takes part in a lot of community work, provides all team members with access to a 24/7 telephone support line service where they can seek counselling and help with legal, health and wellbeing issues.

In addition, The Woodhouse Trust, a charity that was set up 20 years ago, helps current and former team members who are suffering real financial hardship.

They also work closely with the Licensed Trade Charity, that specifically provides free services and financial assistance for people working in the brewery and pub industry.

Other employers who have great mental health policies and practices, showing an in-depth commitment to staff wellbeing include E.ON UK, The Environment Agency, and Historic England, as recognised by Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Awards in 2018/19.

For a full list of awards, visit their website here.

For more help on mental health and stress in the workplace, and in general, there are many resources that you can use; Mental Health At Work, Time To Change (led by Mind, and Rethink Mental Illness), and Mindful Employer.


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