With their head office based in the heart of Somerset, Bridges Electrical Engineers Ltd are a family-owned engineering contractor employing over 200 people. Through their regional teams they design, manufacture, install and project manage complex mechanical and electrical projects to the water, power and aggregates sector across southern England and Wales.
The construction and engineering sector has a well publicised, unique set of challenges when it comes to mental wellbeing. In response to this, Bridges developed a wellbeing strategy in 2018; this strategy harnessed the company’s family values and sense of community with the clear messages that “mental health can affect anyone” and that “it’s good to talk, and okay not to feel okay”.
Initially through face-to-face roadshows, Bridges launched its Safe People, Happy People, Sustainable Business programme. Consisting of a range policies and initiatives to promote awareness and understanding including the introduction of Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA’s) across the business and a tailored Employee Assistance Programme.
Recognising the tangible people and business benefits from the programme, Bridges went a step further in 2020, looking at prevention they employed a mind management coach to support the team. The coach equips employees with tools and strategies designed to re-frame situations or concerns, helping to remove worry reducing the potential for anxiety. This support is delivered through programmes of individual, group sessions and also webinars.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic the business has remained operational, with its key workers undertaking essential works on strategic infrastructure for water company clients. New working methods adopting social distancing and home working has further elevated the mental health conversation across the business.
In preparation, the MHFA’s received coaching to provide remote support techniques. New technologies were embraced to support communication and information sharing. Daily briefings were introduced with video business updates provided by the board, they managed to host an online live employee briefing with 142 employees attending across Southern England and Wales.
During Mental Health week, Bridges ran a successful programme of daily participative activities embracing the Kindness theme. This included a company commitment to the Time to Change Employer Pledge. A voluntary pledge to raise awareness and reduce the stigma to improve the way we all think and act about mental health in the workplace.
The engagement during mental health week was amazing, lots of positivity across the teams, whether home, office or site based, with people sharing their kind acts through powerful messages and films clips, it also led to a change temporary re-think on the Bridges branding.