At CU we know that our people all have a life outside of work which may include responsibility for looking after children and/or other caring responsibilities. In fact our most recent engagement survey revealed that at least 35% of our partners and employees identify as caregivers. Experience has shown us that supporting families and carers is vitally important for people to thrive both at work and home. Furthermore, we know that supporting families underpins our gender equality and broader diversity and inclusion vision.
The mental health of our people is a priority for us and something that we take very seriously. We have a long standing commitment to providing a range of wellbeing offerings aimed at supporting our families, including providing mental health support. Three key initiatives are outlined below.
Firstly, since 2019 Clayton Utz has had a dedicated National Mental Health Manager whose role is to be the advocate and champion of mental health in the Firm. The role also has responsibility for providing the Firm with strategic mental health advice and expertise and managing the Firm’s mental health education framework and early intervention framework.
Our National Mental Health Manager is accredited in Mental Health First Aid training. In addition, over 200 of our people are either Mental Health First Aiders or Mental Health Champions. The role of our fully trained Mental Health Champions is to:
• listen, and to provide support on seeking further assistance if necessary;
• proactively help identify mental health concerns among the local workforce where appropriate; and
• champion local mental health initiatives.
These champions help break down any perceived stigma around mental health, and empower our workforce to feel comfortable with seeking assistance where necessary.
A second initiative is the Firm’s targeted wellbeing program for parental leavers – a series of workshops available prior to commencing parental leave and upon return. With its focus on understanding our psychological response to change, the program offers wellbeing strategies for staying mentally fit and practical tools for where to invest time and energy during life change.
A third initiative is our Employee Assistance Program – CU Assist. It offers Partners and employees 24/7 access to senior psychologists as their default consultant.
We know that this service is regularly utilised by family members of our people.
Towards the end of 2021 one of our employee’s son’s was having some anxiety with returning to school after COVID and lock down. This was causing considerable stress for the employee and their family. After seeing their GP, the employee’s son was given a Mental Health Care plan with a few recommendations for local psychologists. Unfortunately all the specialists she called were fully booked and had closed their books (due to high demand). When raised with her manager, she suggested the employee should speak to our National Mental Health Manager who was able to get in contact with our EAP provider and utilise their network to find a suitable child psychologist.
The employee was able to get her son an appointment within a week and via zoom. This suited them as they weren’t keen to travel to the city for the appointment and her manager was supportive and flexible in terms of appointment times. The psychologist provided the employee and her son some strategies to work through the anxiety and some helpful approaches for managing the family environment in the mornings before school in order to reduce the anxiety. It was also important to involve the school so that they could provide support. After a couple of appointments the employee’s son was able to finish the remainder of the school year with consistent attendance and less anxiety. It was invaluable for the employee to be able to get some support quickly for the strain she and her family were all under.
By being family inclusive we see a multitude of business benefits. Essentially it comes down to better engaging our people, energising them and inspiring them to do their best. Our initiatives contribute to an inclusive culture which in turn drives better business performance.