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A Message From Mental Health to the HR Community – It’s Time!

In 2010 when I had just finished my 3rd year at university and was on my summer holidays waiting to start my masters in September, I founded and launched London Hair and Beauty Ltd.

During the work involved within in my bachelors, I accidentally stumbled up on a niche in the beauty industry I was confident I could flourish in. I based it on my driving lessons, let me explain!

When I did my driving lessons, I did the lessons every day until my instructor told me I was ready for the test. I passed first time.

What I learned through that experience is that if you do something constantly you become good at it, practice makes perfect as the saying goes. 

So I applied this lived experience to most things I did in my life. I looked at the beauty training industry and to put it in a nutshell, I condensed every single course on the market to the shortest time possible.

When I launched the brands London Makeup School and London Hair Academy, you could qualify to be a hairdresser in 13 weeks (usually 2yrs) and a makeup artist in 6 weeks (usually a year)

How did I do that? Well it was simple, I created courses and ensured that the was no gaps in the training days, just like I did with my driving lessons!

The industry was not ready for this new type of thinking and there was a backlash, it was not possible the industry said.

Even my staff who had trained the old fashion way was not convinced. I made my staff believe in the brand, in themselves and their skillset and put my vision to work. The result was that we became the highest rated and reviewed academy on Google in the world within 5yrs, with an annual turnover of just under 2 million which left our competitors and the naysayers mimicking what we did.

So what did I learn through that experience?

I learned that if you make employees believe in themselves and nurture them, then you will end up with an organisation that sets the benchmark for that industry.

I continuously worked on the wellbeing and nurturing of my staff. The impact on the bottom line was year on year growth on average of 35%, and on one year growth of 200% resulting in a feature in Business Matters Magazine https://www.bmmagazine.co.uk/made-in-britain/made-britain-london-hair-beauty/

I soon found myself the owner of a booming beauty training company but I had a secret, I had no interest whatsoever in the beauty industry. It was purely an opportunity I saw and I took advantage of.

However I saw what it meant to the people that worked with me and how they were blossoming at my company. I saw students finish courses and beat students from the best training academies in the country to top jobs spots. I saw happiness!

It was then that I realised what I truly enjoyed, that was HR. My passion was developing and nurturing people to be both mentally well at work, and to love and get something back from what they do.

By 2018 my team had grown to 50 with 10 managers looking after two academies. I continued my work in HR and gained Gold standard from Investors in People for my HR strategy and support framework.

I developed new HR strategies from scratch, personalised around my team and their needs. It was centred around wellbeing, happiness, CPD and nurturing.

The result was that it won me my highest accolade in my professional life and one of the most sought after awards in business and HR. In 2018, I won Investors in People Manager of the Year award. The cherry on top was that the award was presented to me by one of my favourite comedians, Russel Kane.

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You can see that here:

https://www.pressreader.com/sri-lanka/daily-mirror-sri-lanka/20181210/282888026770877

So what can company directors and HR professionals learn from my experience?

Well it’s very simple and I can put it into one sentence

Your People Are Your Bottom Line!

Delliote’s eye watering report published in January this year finds that poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion each year. This is a rise of 16% since 2016 – an extra £6 billion a year.

The research also looks at how employers can tackle this problem, finding that it pays to support employees’ mental health. On average, for every £1 spent on supporting their people’s mental health, employers get £5 back on their investment in reduced presenteeism, absenteeism and staff turnover.

You can read Delliote’s report here:

https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/press-releases/articles/poor-mental-health-costs-uk-employers-up-to-pound-45-billion-a-year.html

What if you was that forward thinking HR consultant, department, manager or person that can plug that gaping financial hole within a business and create a happy workforce.

Is that not why you are in HR? Or are you a victim of presenteeism?

Have a good think about that!

So with all this information freely available on the internet , I look around at HR websites and what do I see?

Well, let me tell you what I don’t see, I don’t see any priority given to mental health and well-being. It’s all very much centred around the core values of HR, basically in and around;

·     Talent Acquisition/Recruitment. …

·     Compensation Management. …

·     Benefits Administration. …

·     Training and development. …

·     Performance Appraisal and Management. …

·     Employee and Labour Relations. …

·     Compliance Management.

I looked through multiple random HR/HR consultant websites UK wide as research for this article, not one had Mental health on the home page. Only the usual HR systems and processes and no mention of mental health in the training and development sections

Surely, is this not a new and unique USP to gain new clients?

So the next natural question is whether is HR stuck in a rut? A bit like our archaic Victorian education curriculum which is in desperate need for the likes of yoga, meditation, financial and business planning along with mental health awareness to be a core part of it. Thus better preparing todays children for todays world, Quite possibly!

The main point of any business is to make money, period! Now, there is more than enough information that one of the main ways to do this is through a mentally well and happy employee base. Let’s also not forget what impact that this will have on HR teams, happy staff equals happy HR departments!

So what’s it going to take for this message to really to hit home?

With the damage that has been done to both companies and employees from Brexit and COVID19, the time has come for the HR community to step up and grab mental health by the horns.

This starts with the standard recommendation from HR that all employees after the lockdown are mental health first aid trained. With 3 levels of Mental health first aid courses available, this is now possible, it also does not cost an arm and a leg either. Courses start from £80 upwards, which will not break the bank of the smallest SME. 

Now the country is returning to work, does not HR have a due diligence?

I truly hope it is taken seriously, HR owes it to their clients, employees, employer and the economy. Since we all spend most of our lives at work they owe it the country!

The proof will be in the pudding, which will show in the state of the economy and workplace wellbeing in the UK in the next few years

Come on HR, You can do it!!

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