EY signs Government commitment to employee well-being

6 February 2014

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EY will today become the UK’s first professional services firm to sign up to eight pledges in the Department of Health’s ‘Public Health Responsibility Deal’, as part of its ongoing commitment to supporting the emotional, mental and physical health of its employees.

The Responsibility Deal pledge will officially be signed at an event this evening, to coincide with the launch of ‘Health EY’ - the firm’s new approach to employee health, mental health and well-being. EY is also celebrating Time to Talk day, the official annual day of Time to Change, England’s biggest mental health anti-stigma programme.

Over 635 companies have joined the voluntary Government scheme since it was introduced in 2011, pledging to improve the health of their employees, customers and communities in which they operate. The pledges cover a range of areas, such as access to healthy eating options, staff health checks, use of accredited occupational health providers, and procedures to support staff with chronic illnesses.

Steve Varley, Chairman and Managing Partner of EY in the UK & Ireland commented: “Our people are our business. With over 12,000 staff across the UK, it’s vital that we are providing the resources to enable each one of them to thrive. We aren’t about to remove the chocolate machines or enforce lunchtime gym sessions. But we are committed to providing the support and knowledge to enable them to take control of their own physical and mental health.”

EY’s approach to employee well-being includes the roll out of Mental Health First Aiders across the firm. Employees will be trained to act as a first point of call for staff facing mental health challenges or seeking advice. The firm has also formed a mental health buddy scheme to provide an informal support network to anyone affected by a mental health condition.

In addition, EY has also introduced initiatives such as preventative monthly health education campaigns and established clinical care pathways for muscular, mental and physical health conditions for those in times of need.

Steve Wilkinson, EY’s UK & Ireland Managing Partner for client service, and Partner Sponsor of Health EY explained: “Within our new programme we have placed an increased emphasis on tackling the stigma of mental health, which is often viewed as the last workplace taboo. The introduction of mental health first aiders and a buddy system will supplement our existing employee networks, providing a great way to get people talking about an issue that affects over one in six people in the UK.”

Health Minister Earl Howe, who is also speaking at this evening’s event, said: “It’s good to see a leading high profile organisation like EY putting employee health, including mental health, firmly on their HR agenda and signing up to the Responsibility Deal pledges. At any time, one in six adults will be experiencing a mental health condition.  Most of these people are of working age and are in employment.  Mental health conditions cost UK businesses £8.4 billion in sickness absence and a further £15.1 billion in lost productivity. For business, economic and moral reasons, it is therefore important that employers play their part in supporting people with such conditions to retain their jobs, and when they are absent in enabling them to return to work as soon as they can.

“Thoughtful, well informed management in respect of employees’ mental and physical health can produce real benefits.  Besides reduced sickness absence, those benefits include better staff engagement, improved productivity, and reduced staff turnover.”

Dame Carol Black, Chair or the Responsibility Deal health at work network, added: "I am delighted to see EY make this major commitment in signing up to eight Responsibility Deal pledges today.  It sets an admirable example when a prestigious organisation puts employee health and well-being high on their corporate agenda, recognising the importance the workplace plays in maintaining good mental and physical health and well-being.

“Clearly EY recognise the very real benefits to business and productivity that these actions offer, as well as the moral imperatives, and have taken this exemplary step, enhancing their reputation and giving an edge to their business performance.”

Norman Lamb, Care and Support Minister said: “The importance of both physical and mental health in any successful workplace cannot be underestimated and it’s really encouraging to see a high profile employer like EY making this commitment. As well as a lack of support, stigma and a lack of understanding of mental health problems can be a real barrier to people remaining at work. By launching this programme, EY is sending a clear message that mental health needs to addressed, not ignored. I applaud them for this.”