As an organisation that stretches across 32 locations worldwide and encompasses a diverse range of workplaces and employees, BHP’s support of the mental health and wellbeing of their global workforce is an ever-evolving journey.
BHP’s current mental health framework is built on four pillars - culture, capacity, prevention and recovery. In April 2015, the framework was approved by the Executive Leadership Team, highlighting the importance of improving mental health, a priority in the workplace.
The initial focus of the framework was to raise awareness and reduce stigma associated with mental health. So far, this has been achieved through:
- visible support of the framework by senior leaders
- development and delivery of mental health awareness videos and e-learning programs that build staff capability to recognise and support mental health issues
- establishing global business standards for Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and increase awareness of similar support channels
- encouraging conversations around mental health and personal experiences
- supporting external mental health campaigns including Movember and R U OK? Day.
BHP’s 2018 Employee Perception survey highlighted negative flow-on effects of organisational change and gaps in staff self-reporting of stress. As a result, BHP expanded their framework to include the following initiatives:
- incorporate a wellbeing category in the Employee Perception survey that considers physical, psychological and social aspects to better inform the mental health strategy
- implement mental health programs and support specific to the area of work
- establish a centralised mental health tool kit accessible to staff at home and work
- partner with Keil Centre to develop a peer-led Resilience Program
- conduct a multifactorial risk assessment of the FIFO (fly-in fly-out) construction roster. This resulted in a roster redesign from a 28-days-on and seven-days-off structure to 20-days-on and eight-days-off.
Between 2017-18, BHP saw a statistically significant improvement in their Wellbeing Index from 76 to 77 per cent. Utilisation of EAP across the company has also increased to levels considered best practice in the industry, with several of the Australian-based assets and offices achieving an annual utilisation rate of nine per cent or higher, where Australian companies generally average rates of four to five per cent.
Feedback from the 1,100 attendees of the Resilience program has been overwhelmingly positive. Skills learnt through the program, including conversation and honest communication, are fostering greater trust and care within teams.
BHP held a workshop in October 2018 with external mental health experts to understand how to best embed their mental health framework into every day operations and promote sustainability. BHP recognise that more needs to be done to effectively reach frontline workers by integrating mental health and wellbeing into onboarding and the employee’s tenure.
Creating linkages and integration with other key initiatives and programs across the organisation has been a challenge. However, BHP have committed to meet more regularly cross-functionally so that areas of opportunity can be identified early and planned for accordingly.
Key messages with simple narratives were found most effective for promoting the mental health framework and its initiatives with staff. By harnessing the enthusiasm of employees and encouraging the sharing of personal experiences within teams, BHP has been effective in raising mental health awareness and reducing stigma across the business.
From a planning perspective, identifying key success metrics during the early stages has allowed BHP to monitor the success of the framework, and develop initiatives accordingly.