QBE has taken several steps to address mental health and employee wellbeing, with the carrier also recently unveiling a customer self-assessment tool, developed in collaboration with Mind, which enables companies to assess and enhance their mental health and wellbeing strategy.

Steve Field Emma Higgins

“While there is an abundance of information available on mental health and wellbeing, most organisations struggle to create a definitive mental health plan with clear goals and priorities,” explained Steve Field, underwriting manager at QBE Europe. 

“There are few standards or frameworks for businesses to follow and benchmark their mental health policies and practices.”

Field said QBE’s tool uses a self-assessment which is structured into systematic strategic sections that enables customers to record their progress through the development process.  

“This includes reviewing organisational culture and responsibilities, monitoring of wellbeing, effectiveness of employee engagement, impact of workplace design and organisation, quality of training, availability of supporting tools and networks which are all underpinned by relevant transparency and accountability.”

Steve Field QBE

The carrier has also implemented several measures to address employee wellbeing within its own operations. 

Emma Higgins, chief human resource officer for QBE Europe, said: “It was very important to us that we challenge workplace stigma about mental health and to make it easier for those who need help to feel comfortable asking for it.  

“Our dedicated mental health network, Open Mind, plays a key role in promoting the message that it’s OK not to be OK and helps to provide the right support to all our colleagues.” 

This includes the creation of People Leaders to play an integral part in normalising the conversation around mental health, with programme leaders equipped with the skills and confidence to understand different issues, spot the signs of when people may be struggling and provide support and signpost for help. 

Regular webinars and workshops on topics surrounding mental health are also held to help to raise awareness and Higgins said the company also provides more practical support through a network of trained mental health first aiders.

During the pandemic, Higgins said there had been a need for an even greater focus on employee wellbeing with several internal initiatives put in place to provide support for staff.

“Communication has been so important during this period and with the shift to home working and all of us navigating through the uncertainty of a pandemic we wanted to have regular check-ins with our people to understand how they were feeling, understand what was going well and where there may be opportunities to enhance our support for mental wellbeing,” she said.

“We recognised that some employees have had additional caring responsibilities, with many having to combine homeschooling with their working day. 

“Therefore, in January we offered our employees emergency paid parental leave to assist parents and carers who were responsible for homeschooling because of government-mandated school closures.”

Emma Higgins QBE

In addition, she said the carrier has hosted regular workshops and issued a weekly newsletter dedicated to wellbeing, as well as encouraging employees to take part in wellbeing challenges and pledges as part of an internal campaign to prioritise wellbeing.

“Looking forward we’ll be adopting a more flexible approach to work and introducing hybrid working as part of our Flex@QBE programme. We want to embrace the positive learnings and benefits of virtual working, while evolving our offices to become a place for purposeful collaboration and personal connection,” Higgins said.