“Employee health is essential no matter what industry you're in. It is therefore extremely important to clearly define priorities in the area of health and safety. We have a responsibility to our employees - and I fulfil that responsibility every day in my job,” reports Laura Hardie, Occupational Health and Wellbeing Advisor at Bilfinger.
Laura is responsible for implementing the company's health strategy and developing it on an ongoing basis. She also monitors employee compliance with medical certifications. “Our offshore employees who work on platforms in the North Sea for several months, for example, have to undergo regular safety training. I plan these training courses together with my colleagues. And in order to maintain the strictest safety standards and requirements for our customers in the future, I’m in regular contact with our operations and recruitment teams to discuss and plan measures,” says Laura, describing her day-to-day work.
Laura started working at Bilfinger´s HR department 7 years ago. “At the beginning of the Corona pandemic, I came back from parental leave and took on the role of coordinating and managing all aspects of offshore medicals. Through continuous changing Covid restrictions, my role as an Occupational Health and Wellbeing Advisor has evolved”, says the native of Scotland.
“This is not just about the physical health of our employees, but also their mental health. That's because the pandemic has significantly increased the need to support the mental health of our colleagues. Exceptional situations like the Corona pandemic put a great strain on people's mental health. As an employer, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to strengthen the physical and mental health of our employees,” Laura explains.
Bilfinger already had a number of initiatives in place before the pandemic to offer employees a range of mental health services. The need for such programs has continued to grow in importance since last year. “We want to offer assistance to our employees and be there for them when we are needed,” says our colleague.
“The response to the various offerings designed to strengthen employees’ mental health has been fantastic. We have amazing colleagues who have embraced our strategy, breaking down the stigma and encouraging open conversations about mental health. It has only been through the support of our colleagues that our initiatives have become so popular. Just thinking about our mental health strategy for which we were recognized at the Cherries Awards [Human Resources, Training and Recruitment Excellence Award] for outstanding well-being in the workplace, makes me feel incredibly proud. It means so much to me to see that we are on the right track. It was not only an affirmation of the work that we're doing, but also an incentive to do much more for our employees.”
As for how we should deal with mental health in the workplace in the future and how we could promote awareness of it, Laura has a recipe for success: “Communication is everything. If you think your colleague is struggling with mental health issues, just asking them if they are okay can go a long way. Showing that you're there for them can make an incredible difference. I also want to emphasize that we can't just address this important issue once in a campaign, because if we do, it will be forgotten. We must regularly promote the mental health awareness to our colleagues by making it clear that help is available whenever it is needed. It is also not just a matter of reacting when colleagues have problems, but of providing programs that can be used at any time to build support networks and resilience. Because one thing is clear: We are there for each other and support each other when someone needs help”