The Bupa Health and Wellbeing Award: Heathrow Airport

Finalist for Business in the Community’s Bupa Health and Wellbeing Award 2019.

Heathrow: Making mental health considerations of staff part of working life

  • 80 per cent reduction in work-related stress absence in 2018
  • 16 staff trained as trauma incident management practitioners

Going from considering the mental wellbeing of colleagues consciously, to a position where it is part and parcel of how you think and do things at work, is no mean feat. But this is what the airport wants for its employees. 

The Heathrow Health and Wellbeing strategy has three main components designed to address issues that cause absence and impact on staff wellbeing at home and at work, including stress, high cardiovascular and diabetic risk, and injuries to the body. It is based on feedback and internal reviews. 

“Our approach has enabled us to change people’s lives for the better, thereby improving colleague engagement and increasing Heathrow’s business performance.”

Paula Stannett, Chief People Officer, Heathrow 

Recognising that while its managers had the desire to support staff, they lacked the confidence and knowledge to really help. So, they can now attend a one-day mental health educational programme. In 2018, work-related stress absence reduced by 80 per cent, largely due to employees being able to better identify why they are stressed and how their manager can help. 

As well as mental-health first aiders, the airport business has also created a buddy scheme, in which volunteers from across the business can spot signs of someone struggling and offering confidential support. 

2018 saw the airport carry out Europe’s largest terror response role-play in which the mental health of everyone was considered for the first time from inception. Afterwards, 16 employees were trained as trauma incident management practitioners to offer support following traumatic events they might experience at work, such as responding to a suicide, car crash or cardiac arrest. In the first eight weeks after launch, six staff made requests to be helped. 

Information in this impact story was supplied by Heathrow.

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