An interview with Scott Baxter, Head of HR for Global Voices
Our understanding of mental health is ever developing, and its impact on our society cannot be understated. With the stress of modern life becoming even more difficult with many trapped at home, it’s important that we take a moment to look after ourselves and help support those who need it most.
At Global Voices, mental health and supporting our employees through these, and any other, turbulent times is a top priority. Our Editorial Lead, Simon Treanor, sat down with Head of HR, Scott Baxter, and discussed some of the ways that Global Voices is addressing mental health issues.
Hi Scott, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions on mental health. First things first, with the world in turmoil from COVID-19 many companies are highlighting the importance of mental health. What is Global Voices’ stance on mental health in the workplace?
Scott: Hi, thanks for inviting me!
The Coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp focus the importance of mental health awareness in the workplace, and so we are now making a concerted effort to support staff in the context of mental health and mindfulness – importantly, we are making the nature of this support structural. This means our roles, departments, initiatives will be designed from the ground up with mental health and wellbeing at forefront of mind.
That sounds fantastic, what are some of these ‘support structures’ you mentioned?
Scott: Global Voices offers mental health support, counselling, and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) services through our private healthcare package, via Vitality Life private medical insurance. Using Vitality Life, staff have access to cutting edge resources which help them maintain a healthy mind.
We encourage staff to try to integrate their work life with their ‘life life’ – to eliminate the idea of work/life balance and to see the ‘balance’ more as a ‘blend’. As a leadership team, it’s our responsibility to teach employees about the transformation from balance-to-blend, and the benefits of such an idea.
Why did Global Voices decide to go with Vitality as their health provider?
Scott: Vitality is our chosen private health provider because it encourages staff to lead healthy lives, to become more active and become healthier all-round! Whilst most private health insurance will help resolve ailments through treatments, Vitality is designed to keep people healthy, such that there’s less chance of such ailments coming about in the first place. Using a variety of apps available through phones and wearable tech, staff can keep track of their Vitality status, and their overall health and fitness. A better Vitality status leads to better benefits, such as a 40% discount on British Airways flights for the top level, all whilst leading a much more healthy, active lifestyle.
What are some of the features and resources available through Vitality?
Scott: Vitality enables staff access to fast video GP appointments, within only 48 hours of booking, and allows access to the latest medical treatments, often not available on the NHS. Such treatments are available at Vitality registered private hospitals, such as the BMI King’s Park private hospital in Stirling, only 10 minutes from our headquarters.
An important aspect of mental health at the workplace focuses on promoting a strong positive work environment, how does Global Voices help create a positive environment?
Scott: We promote an environment which, whilst we all work hard, places great emphasis on teamwork and camaraderie (or “patter” to natives!). Only 15% of our workforce are UK nationals, meaning we have an incredible colourful and vibrant people function.
This in turn leads to very strong bonds of friendship between staff members, who often refer to one another as being members of their extended “GV family”. This is especially true of the younger generations in our business; for many, this is a first experience of living and working abroad, and so finding like-minded people who quite literally ‘speak your language’ in a completely new country is refreshing, and offers a real rock of stability and continuity for these employees.
I love the idea of the ‘GV Family’, especially during lockdown! What are some of the ways Global Voices help create this sense solidarity?
Scott: Global Voices understands the importance of communication in building relationships. We will be running sessions over the next few weeks whereby departments which may not usually interact can connect with each other, to meet new faces, and encourage innovation, even while working from home which can makes such things quite difficult!
COVID-19 has hugely affected our lives, causing many stress and worry. What has Global Voices done to ensure the safety of their employees and to help them follow government guidelines?
Scott: The safest option is working from home, which is why we provide computers and equipment to ensure all our employees can work effectively from anywhere. However, we understand that sometimes another safe and viable option is needed, so we have prepared our office for use, just in case it is needed.
Our office meets or exceeds all criteria of the HSE Covid Secure Guidelines. We have installed permanent desk dividers which separate staff, and conveniently provide a quieter workspace for people to focus. These dividers will remain in place once the pandemic passes.
We’ve also implemented 1-way-systems throughout the office, ‘keep left’ systems in stairwells, and maximum occupancy limits for more enclosed meeting rooms and water closets. Each internal door now has hand sanitizer stations installed. Handwipes will be supplied to all staff when employees return to the office.
And finally, how are you looking after your mental health? Has the lockdown spurned you to take up any new hobbies?
Scott: I’ve taken up running, and believe it or not I’ve been writing and producing pop music in a pop duo a musician friend and I started back in April – however, I’ll spare your ears (for now!).
Thanks so much for your time.
For more information on mental health issues for you or someone close to you, please visit the NHS website.