eg.1 Global

£1 billion oil project to a £2 billion oil project via a mental health institution - Employee Mental Health

March 04, 2021 Qing Mak & Shantonu Chundur Season 1 Episode 2
eg.1 Global
£1 billion oil project to a £2 billion oil project via a mental health institution - Employee Mental Health
Chapters
1:30
£1bn oil project to £2bn oil project via mental health institution
3:52
Employers duty of care to support mental health
9:11
Creating an environment and culture where employees can support each other
13:58
Post-Covid trade-off for mental health impact
17:32
Top 3 tips to support mental wellbeing for each other and for employees
eg.1 Global
£1 billion oil project to a £2 billion oil project via a mental health institution - Employee Mental Health
Mar 04, 2021 Season 1 Episode 2
Qing Mak & Shantonu Chundur

In this podcast Qing Mak, Head of Market Intelligence and Lead on Diversity & Inclusion at eg.1, talks to Shantonu Chundur, Founder and CEO at Confluent Energy about mental health and how leaders, employers and organisations should approach the topic of mental health to ensure they are supporting their people, protecting their workforce and ensuring longevity.

Shantonu talks about his own personal experiences with mental health and how having an employer who did the right things at the right time secured huge successes for both the employee and the organisation.

Qing and Shantonu explore the following points:

  • Do employers have a duty of care to their people to support mental health. 
  • What does care and compassion look like from an employer perspective. 
  • Do organisations need to be more Pro-active rather than reactive

So whether you are an individual struggling with your mental health, you work with or are friends with someone who is struggling, or you're an employer invested in supporting your work force better then this podcast gives some great insight in to the relationship between the two.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this podcast Qing Mak, Head of Market Intelligence and Lead on Diversity & Inclusion at eg.1, talks to Shantonu Chundur, Founder and CEO at Confluent Energy about mental health and how leaders, employers and organisations should approach the topic of mental health to ensure they are supporting their people, protecting their workforce and ensuring longevity.

Shantonu talks about his own personal experiences with mental health and how having an employer who did the right things at the right time secured huge successes for both the employee and the organisation.

Qing and Shantonu explore the following points:

  • Do employers have a duty of care to their people to support mental health. 
  • What does care and compassion look like from an employer perspective. 
  • Do organisations need to be more Pro-active rather than reactive

So whether you are an individual struggling with your mental health, you work with or are friends with someone who is struggling, or you're an employer invested in supporting your work force better then this podcast gives some great insight in to the relationship between the two.

Unknown:

Welcome to the eg one podcast. I'm Ching, Mac, I had market intelligence and diversity inclusion here at eg one. And with me today is Shantanu chunder, founder and CEO at confluent. Energy. Hi, Shantanu. Great to have you here with me today to share your personal experiences. So really appreciate this. And just to talk about the broader potential mental health crisis that's looming on the horizon, I Ching, really excited to be here. Thank you so much for having me. Mental health is just a topic that I think is so so relevant right now. But actually, as you, as you mentioned, is really closely tied in with my personal story as well, which I'll get on to, yes, I'm the CEO of constant energy. We're a management consultancy. We support businesses and employees in the areas of well being and performance. And a part of that is obviously tied into my personal story, but actually is also relevant to what I do today. So thank you, again, for having me. And I'm super excited about the next next half an hour. And when when we met, you mentioned obviously your story, which is something I'd like to talk about today. And we'd love for you to share with our audience today, what you described as the journey from a billion pound project to 2 billion pounds by a mental health institution. Yeah, it's so honestly, when I, when I say like that, it makes me pause. But when I hear it said back to me, I kind of go, Whoa, okay, is that really what happened? And it did. So back in 2012, I was working for a company called tala oil out in West Africa, and I was leading an offshore project, a very expensive offshore project that was in a bit of trouble. And so I'd gone out there to try and see if I could help turn it around. And with the fantastic help of my team, we've managed to do so. But unfortunately, that whole period came with some personal consequences. So in January of 2013, when I was back in London, I suffered a breakdown at work. It was initially diagnosed as stress, followed by you know, symptoms of burnout, I was actually then admitted into into a clinic, where it was then ultimately sort of diagnosed as bipolar disorder. Now, that period of recovery for me was about 18 months long. And it was a huge journey in terms of learning. And, and yes, I did recover. And I did go on to kind of run the the 2 billion pound project. But I did have the little pit stop in the middle. And, and I do call it a pit stop. Because is It was as though everything changed. But at the same time, nothing changed. So I was the same person, I still am the same person. From that perspective, nothing's changed. But actually, in terms of my own awareness of what mental health is, and my own awareness around what good self care looks like, was a total change. I had to radically change my my mindset, my views around what I needed to do to get back to where I wanted to be. And, and it was, yeah, it was an interesting 18 months, but I had fantastic support from a very proactive employee employer. And so I count myself hugely lucky. And I think as much as I learned lessons over that period, I think they did as well. And so I'm sure we'll talk about some of that over the course of this as well. Yeah, I mean, employers do have a duty of care towards your employees to support mental health, of course. But you know, as we know, it, the level of care, it does vary from sector to sector, you know, by turnover sometimes at the company, how much discretionary spend, they have. Yeah, and and I think, you know, in your opinion began to understand from you and your personal experience as well. What do you think caring compassion looks like from an employer's perspective? Yeah, absolutely. And I think we all know that there's obviously a legal aspect to duty of care. But I don't think that's what we want to cover today. I think what's really important to focus on is almost that sort of moral obligation of care and compassion. And I think I love this quote that I read on social media from one of the doctors, and in it, he said, you know, care and compassion is a universal, right. And it's something that every employee should be entitled to. You shouldn't have To have a diagnosis or a label or a problem, to expect that level of support from your employer. And, and for me, I think that just highlights the importance of what a caring and compassionate employer can do for an employee. Yes, while they're going through a low period, but actually for any employee, because Karen compassion is as much about preventing poor mental health in the future, as it is about supporting people who are going through a low period right now. Yeah. And do you think that Tableau learned from your experience, then? Because it just seems like you know, they were very proactive, then and, you know, they were, yeah, it they took steps to ensure successful, you know, reintegration and for you, to your business, be good to understand or just hear a bit more from you on that. And if you found that they were actually kind of ahead of the curve when it comes to supporting mental well being? Yeah, I think they learned so much. And of course, I've spoken to them many times on this subject, and they openly admitted it was it was a huge learning journey for them. This happened back in 2012 2013, before mental health at work, or workplace well, being was sort of a mainstream topic. And for a lot of organisations, there was very little in terms of process and procedure on how to handle these things. And so, in hindsight, and they've talked about this as well, is that back in those days, they were just trying to do the right thing. And, and the right thing meant actually, putting in place little changes and adjustments that could really help me on my recovery journey. You know, the easiest thing for them would have been to say, you know, what, you're, you're not well, we'll just sign you off. Yeah, go away for 18 months. And if you come back, fine, if you don't find. Now a lot of the research suggests that actually, people who do get signed off for that period of time never come back to work. And so it was really interesting that I think they took a brilliant approach, where they started to think about what are the reasonable adjustments we can make, to his workload to his role, to allow him to make the time to go away and get the treatment, go away, and and, and see the therapist and see the doctors, and do whatever he needs to do. And we just want to support him on that journey. And part of that, I think, was also just having brilliant line managers, you know, line managers that would listen in a in a totally non judgmental way. Not in terms of, again, trying to fix my problems, but just giving me that space to say, Okay, what do you need to do? How can we support you, and whatever's going on in your life, we're gonna make time to sit down and listen. And for me, some of those basics are actually so much easier to put in place than some of the big interventions that we we often hear people talk about. And so when it's, I think talo, learned this as well is that on your journey to becoming that sort of caring, and compassionate employer, there's lots of things that you can do, that are sort of, I suppose, almost low hanging fruit, that can make massive differences to your employees. And I would like to see a lot more collaboration and conversation across employers to start to share some of these lessons. Because I don't think there is a single employer out there who's got all the answers. Yeah. But we're all trying to get that role trying to make a bit of a difference and to get a little bit better. So really encouraging organisations to talk about what's going well for them, what's not going well, and, and listen and collaborate and let's together, get our head around this. Yeah, and just creating safe spaces to be able to voice those stories without feeling like you're going to be judged. And, and I think that the biggest support, the biggest source of support is each other, isn't it? I think a lot of people always feel maybe, you know, they're a bit uncomfortable, they feel it and they're not professionally qualified enough to give advice or you know, they're afraid that maybe they're just not saying the right things when someone comes back, you know, from from such a such an ordeal. But actually, I think in reality, anyone brave enough or willing enough, just simply want to make a difference can make a difference. And we could obviously get your your view on this. But I think just being an active listener, a good listener can make a lot of difference. But yeah, you know, what do you think about this or I suppose we could to get your view as well, in terms of this whole HR leadership sort of top down approach versus your team member, peer to peer to peer approach. Yeah, I think you've absolutely hit the nail on the head with that, there is so much that can be done at the team level. And it starts with those really simple conversations. And it's something that was so stark to me when I came back after a period of absence is that I would walk into the office, and suddenly I could see people who were walking towards me, almost do an about turn and walk the other way. Because they were so nervous, and so scared about saying anything to me, or saying something to me, that they perceived, would make me worse, or trigger me or anything like that, that they actually picked the option that was just walk away. And for me, actually, on the receiving end, it was the worst thing that they could do, because suddenly, I felt like, like, I was on the outside, and I was sort of looking around going, you know, what's going on? You know, these are people that I know, are not bad people, you know, is there? Is there something that I've done? Or, you know, is that something that, you know, maybe I've got something on my face, you know, what, what's, what's kind of going on. And, and so it was, it was kind of really hard to convince people that actually was okay to just say anything. And I always remember, these people really stand out in my mind, the ones who were just brave enough just to come up and say something. And for me, it was just that level of acceptance of thank God, you know, I'm back, okay, these people are treating me normally. Because often when you're away, the anxiety of that starts to build and build and build new local, what if people say this? What if people do this, and so when you walk in, and for the first time, there's that normalisation, you suddenly have this massive sort of release of, you know, oh, my god, that was so good. And, and it starts with those super, super simple conversations. And I think your point about the distance of HR and leadership is so relevant, because often we do think about these initiatives as top down. But if you think about your day to day, whether you're working from home or working in the office, you know, how often do you see the leadership? How often do you see the HR people who you see is actually the people around you in the people in your teams. And so they're the ones that are going to be the first to notice, if something's not right, or something doesn't feel right. Because you know, you take somebody, for example, who has come in every day at eight o'clock in the morning for as long as you can remember. And suddenly, this person is now coming in at 10 o'clock, you know, somebody who's sitting on a different floor or a different department, you know, will not recognise that they won't spot those signs. But in a team, the team will be the first to spot it. And the team can then go along and say, You're okay, you want to go for a coffee, you know, should we go for a walk? And it's just those little check ins that say to people, you know, what, it's okay. You know, I know I'm going through a bit of a bad time at the moment. The world doesn't feel great. But my team are here for me. Yeah. And that is such a powerful feeling to know that someone's got you. And actually the people that you work with day in, day out, day in day out, have got you. And and that is huge. And during feeling, isn't it, unbelievably reassuring, unbelievably reassuring. It's great to see that employers have really upped their game when it comes to supporting mental well being throughout this these unprecedented times and throughout COVID. And as when we when we think about it, it's on one hand, you've got increased, flexible working, so maybe a better work life balance for certain individuals, depending of course, in which sector you're in. And then but on the other hand, are is that the trade off? Isn't it with the loss of actual face to face human interaction, human connection that could potentially lead to in isolation, to loneliness? I mean, what, there's no obviously, direct or correct answer to this. But yeah, I mean, what do you think are the two trade offs and you know, what can companies do? Or perhaps, there was a specific point that companies can amplify the message that companies can amplify to their employees on this Yeah, absolutely. And I think you're, you're spot on with the trade off. Because it absolutely is that, you know, one of the things that tolo were very good with in the early days with me through that recovery period, was recognising that time in the office didn't mean productive time. So they had to put in place a level of flexibility around when I was in wasn't in the office. But it goes back to the earlier point about actually not being in the office tall, is also bad. Because you can start to feel quite excluded, you can start to feel quite vulnerable, that people are doing things and you know nothing about it. So actually, in those in that sort of first six months, I had a flexible working policy essentially put around me, that said, you know, come in when you need to come in, you know, submit, but make sure you do, because that connection into the team and into the company and into the culture is vital for people to get that sense of belonging. And I think this is something that's, that's really topical right now, because many companies are having that debate right now. You know, should we go fully remote? Or should we encourage people to come back into the office when it's safe to do so? And and that trade off between? You know, does full remote working, encourage isolation and loneliness? And could that lead to longer term complications, in terms of low mood and depression and anxiety, versus actually wanting to give people the flexibility because work life balance has also never been so important? Yeah. My own view, and I think it played out in the weight, hello, approach, my situation is a degree of flexibility. It's that hybrid approach that says, actually, some time in the office is key. But actually, people should have the ability when they need to, to work from home. And many companies are starting to really investigate, you know, what flexible working policies could look like? And also how that then translates into things like real estate space, and office costs and all the rest of it. So you're right, there is no right answer right now. But again, I think companies are you trying to work towards something that will hopefully be for the benefit of all their employees? And I think that's key. Yeah, there's no one size fits all approach. It depends on obviously, the sector you're in or the type of services that you provide to your clients. But as you search out, now, it's important that companies keep this at the forefront. Now they need to think about what is the new way of working, as opposed to saying, Oh, you know, what, coming out of the crisis, and we'll just go back to what it was before, there's actually this might be a great opportunity for us to rethink our, our, our time, you know, the way we spend, the amount of time we spend in offices versus not the way we actually deliver our services to clients. How can we better utilise technology, for example, to achieve better work life balance, and it's companies that actually think about this and want to make a difference that will continue to thrive in the new economy, and those that don't, unfortunately, are going to lose out? And you know, what would be your your advice, or perhaps your your key takeaways to just anyone, you know, to me to anyone that wants to make a difference tomorrow when it comes to supporting mental well being? Absolutely. And I think that's it, it's about the simplicity, because I think at the moment, when you tune into something around mental health or well being, it's almost clouded by this sort of sea of complexity, that sometimes makes the topic very frightening. And so part of I think, the challenge we have, and we all have, collectively, to tackle the stigma, and and make it an everyday topic that people can talk about free is to cut through that complexity. Yeah. And, and make it as simple as we can. So my advice to anybody is about that, keep it simple principle, the KISS principle. And it starts for me with that basic conversation. You know, just check in with somebody, it doesn't have to be the same person. In fact, it's good if it's a different person. But today, make a note to yourself that says, You know what, at the end of may be listening to this or later on in the day, I'm going to make an intentional point in my in my in my day, to go and have a conversation with somebody. Because I think that's powerful from two perspectives. One is you're reaching out to provide somebody a bit of support, but actually, it's bidirectional, you know, part of that is also about getting support yourself, and being able to have that two way conversation. And I think it's about that, keep it simple, but reach out. I think part of that is also about increasing our literacy around those conversations. Because one thing that I know, and it goes back to my experience at Tableau is people don't know what to say. They don't know if they're saying the right thing. And so I think companies can do a lot of work in just trying to upskill some of their employees in terms of that emotional and mental, I suppose literacy of knowing what to say. And again, it's back to the you don't need to be an expert. nobody's asking you to be an expert, or you don't just constantly give advice, either. Know, exactly. And it's just, but it's just about, Okay. How do you say it in the right way? How do you say it the right way for you, but also for the person on the receiving end. And I think we could all really benefit from just that additional bit of literacy around the right things to say, because it's so important to say something. And then I think the third thing, for me is, is just keeping an eye out for those small changes, you know, teams, they, once they've got, when they get together, they sort of get into a bit of a routine and a bit of a hub. And so any disruption to those routines, whether it's somebody timings or somebody's quality of work, the team will notice that straightaway. And I often say to people, if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Right. So you know, sometimes you sort of go in, and you'll, you'll get that feeling in your stomach that says something's not quite right. Just kind of stop and go, why is that? That Oh, that person is not here today. That's what's bugging me, you know? Okay, well, let me let me kind of reach out and see if they're okay, if they're here, or if they're not? Well, this person has been working, you know, late hours every single day, you know, they're logged on, I can see them on teams, or I can see them on Skype at nine o'clock in the evening, every single day. You know, that's not normal, what's going on? So little routine changes. And it's just about getting people to be open to looking for those little changes. And and if it doesn't feel right, let your curiosity outlet. You know, go and go and go and explore it and ask us a question. Yeah, that's right. And, yeah, and to your point, it's, it's easy to tell people to be to be brave to say something, but actually, in your, your point around literacy, that's key and crucial, because we're not, we're all different. We're all unique individuals, and some individuals just may need that extra sort of empowerment, to feel like, Okay, well, you know, what I'm saying is is going to be helpful is going to make a difference to my team. And when I see this making a positive difference to a close colleague or team member, then you know, there is that feelgood factor as well. And we can and this will perpetuate, you know, this will be amplified as more and more people take on that challenge, and not just feel like, okay, you know, this is just something for the professionals. This is just, it's, it's beyond me, you know, I can champion other aspects, but mental health just feels like something that is just it requires professionals. Absolutely. And because we all have mental health. Yeah, it's something that we should all be invested in. And it's not about becoming a professional, or becoming a patient, it's just about recognising that we're all people. And we all have mental health. So we all have to work together to support each other. And, and for me, I always say to people, your number one source of support is each other. Without a doubt, I love that. Thank you very much, gentlemen, this has been it's just been really interesting, refreshing to hear, you know, your your side of the story, you're sharing your personal experiences. And I think research has shown time again that sharing experiences and creating safe spaces for such an activity or initiative within a company makes a whole world of difference. So thank you very much again, for taking the time and yeah, it's been great talking to you. Thank you. Thank you for having me. And thank you to each one for shining a light on such an important topic. Thank you very much for listening. For more information on this podcast and others, please check out the link in the description. If you enjoyed our podcast. Please do share with friends and colleagues. And don't forget to subscribe for the next episode. See you all then.

£1bn oil project to £2bn oil project via mental health institution
Employers duty of care to support mental health
Creating an environment and culture where employees can support each other
Post-Covid trade-off for mental health impact
Top 3 tips to support mental wellbeing for each other and for employees