Amplitude’s Pledge For Mental Health Week
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the team at Amplitude have tasked me, Emma their Senior Creative, to write a piece for the occasion. I am very passionate about mental health and will take any opportunity to open up a conversation about such an important topic, and yet I found myself apprehensive. Writing about mental health on behalf of a company is very different to writing on behalf of yourself.
The Amplitude team have not asked me to write this blog as a way of tooting their own horn; they gave me free reign over how I wanted to tackle the subject, but through this piece I can talk about the wider subject of mental health in and out of the workplace, whilst simultaneously exhibiting the culture that Amplitude have, and the legacy they want to continue to build.
So I won’t just bang on about how ground-breaking Amplitude’s stance on mental health is… I will prove it!
What are companies’ legal requirements for looking after their employees’ mental health?
In short, there isn’t much that legally binds a company to look after the mental health of their staff. A person’s mental health would have to substantially impact their day-to-day life over a long-term period of at least 12 months before they are protected against discimination by law. Similarly the only policy that a company is legally required to have is a stress policy that involves an independent risk assessment conducted by the company.
Doesn’t fill you with much confidence does it?
Mental health issues will affect 25% of a company’s entire workforce in any given year, so this is not a topic that can be swept under the rug. Everyone knows someone dealing with a mental illness, even if they don’t realise it, and therefore it impacts everybody from the MD to the sub-contractors. And yet employees have very little protection against discrimination. Mental health is not a separate issue to a business but is an integral part of it.
Mental health issues amongst employees can affect morale, attendance, potentially pose health and safety issues, relationships between colleagues, as well as work performance.
And correct me if I’m wrong, but surely it is in a company’s best interest to support the mental health of its workforce? Surely businesses can see that by supporting their staff, employees will support their business, their business appears more attractive to potential hires, and the quality of the work produced will increase? Personally, I’m struggling to see the negatives here…
What makes Amplitude different from other companies?
Amplitude recognises that acknowledging the importance of mental health can only have a positive effect. Mental health is woven into the company culture, as opposed to being a top-down initiative that was introduced to tick a box.
Here are just a few examples of how mental health is approached at Amplitude:
- Open conversations surrounding the subject are a regular occurrence in the studio, whether that be showing support for someone who is having a rough time, discussions surrounding the social, political and emotional aspects of mental health as a whole, or encouragement to keep learning about ourselves as personal growth.
- We are able to (and actively encouraged to) pursue further learning about mental health and its impact on businesses, our industry and our practices. For example, me and Lucy (Project Manager) attended talks this week about mental health in the workplace during our usual working hours.
- Implementing a 4 Day Work Week from 1st June with the vision of increasing morale, productivity and mental wellbeing.
- We are able to talk comfortably about any issues regarding either our work or personal lives to other members of staff and know that we will be supported. This support is seen through all levels, and not just through words of encouragement, but also action where needed to protect our mental wellbeing.
- Mental health sick days. No questions asked. No guilt trips.
- There are no stupid questions. We would rather anyone here ask a million questions and learn, than keep questions to themselves through fear of ridicule. Also, we react to mistakes as opportunities to teach as opposed to a chance to put someone down.
- The company does not take on a “top-down” approach; we all speak to each other as equals. Jo, our Managing Director, sees our varying skill sets as a major advantage and actively seeks out people with skills we do not yet possess. As a result we openly share our knowledge bases with each other to better grow as individuals. Everyone is valued.
The impact this has on us
Although the scenarios above may seem simple, or even common sense to some, not one of us here have experienced this level of care from any other company we have worked at (and that says a lot). We feel incredibly lucky to be working for a company that genuinely cares about us, and we want to give back to it in return. Every one of us wants to see this company exceed and will go above and beyond to help make that happen.
The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on loneliness, the importance of connection to others and the value in community, something I feel that Amplitude excels at, and there is no better example of this than the way Amplitude handled the pandemic.
During lockdown, like many other companies the Amplitude team all worked remotely with a very real possibility that loneliness and isolation would sink in due to the distance and lack of physical connection in the real world. Recognising the risk to the mental health of its staff, Amplitude made sure to regularly check in with all employees, organised virtual events, and sent out gifts. Most importantly, they supported anyone that was struggling by allowing time off when the additional stress of literally dealing with world changing events set in.
In the past I have pushed for companies I have worked at to talk more openly about workplace mental health both internally and as part of their external communications, and on both occasions this suggestion was met with resistance, and sometimes even dismissiveness and rudeness. Being asked by Amplitude to write this piece without me having to fight for it meant that I felt extremely privileged to work at such an open company.
No matter what twists and turns life throws at them, all employees deserve to know that they can go to their company when they are in need of support.
Where do we go from here?
We still feel that there is more to be done.
As our team grows and expands we will be exploring new ways to support them, right down to a contractual level. A stress policy is not enough to ensure the wellbeing of all staff members going forward.
We will also be looking into other initiatives that will strengthen the relationships between staff and further trust in the company… what those initiatives are, we don’t know yet! We are a work-in-progress and are not afraid to admit that whilst we have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be as a company, we also strive to continue to learn as we go to create a better world.