Mental health and the power of positivity

By Knauf Insulation
October 08, 2021

“We have a duty of care to our colleagues.”

These are the words of Siân Hughes, Knauf Insulation’s Group HR and Corporate Affairs Director, speaking today to mark the World Health Organisation’s World Mental Health Day.

"At Knauf Insulation we are great in a crisis and our culture of care has always rewarded us with success, but behind our great numbers are people," she says.

Mental health is not an easy topic to talk about, but it is essential that we take care of each other and nurture our community.
Siân Hughes, Group HR and Corporate Affairs Director, Knauf Insulation

“At the height of the pandemic we rallied together brilliantly at Knauf Insulation and really looked after each other, but more than 18 months later our well-being is more important than ever. The world is still getting back on its feet and mental health concerns are not going away.”

Developing strengths, resilience and positivity

Knauf Insulation is committed to helping people bring the best version of themselves to work.

And this is not an abstract concept.

We are sharing best practice in terms of developing individual strengths, resilience and positivity and providing the insight to nourish these qualities in others. At Knauf it is a core value known as menschlichkeit — or in other words — consistently demonstrating humanity.

In our For A Better World sustainability strategy, for example, we are committed to providing positive mental health, well-being and resilience training to all managers and new joiners by 2025.

To transform these words into action, Knauf Insulation has launched initiatives across the business supported by region-specific practical advice sessions, helplines, workshops, webinars and courses.

For instance, our Human Resources Manager for Northern Europe Julie McKean received a Knauf Insulation Leadership Award and Knauf Group Leadership Award for championing initiatives to support mental well-being.

Webinars, helplines and mental health first aid

“At our sites colleagues can benefit from a 24/7 helpline and website that offers free confidential support on personal, financial and legal issues,” she says. “They can also have face-to-face counselling and online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy sessions. We also plan to train more Mental Health First Aiders who have the in-depth insight to help those they work with.”

In our Eastern Europe & Middle East region, webinars have been organised to support colleagues with well-being issues such as how to stay mentally fit and nurture optimism as well as also offering a 24/7 employees’ assistance hotline.

Our regional HR Director in Russia and CIS Ekaterina Pronkina, who helped create a platform of positivity with a series of online fitness videos featuring a fitness blogger, says these programmes help colleagues examine their strengths, capabilities and find ways to tackle life challenges.

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Promoting wellbeing through series of online fitness videos

Knowing the answers to these questions enables our colleagues to deal with stress and anxiety and this ultimately increases levels of satisfaction at work.
Ekaterina Pronkina, HR Director for Russia and CIS, Knauf Insulation

Building on the strengths of our people

It is sentiment echoed by our HR Director for Systems Division Katja Pruša. “Through workshops and learning journeys such as Living the KI Way, which focuses on positive psychology, we are teaching our leaders to recognise and build on their strengths and the strengths of others. We are showing them how to have meaningful development discussions and how to give feedback that is oriented to future growth.

“We are increasing the number of coaching processes because this is one of the most effective personal development processes that enable people to become more self-aware and build on their inner resources and strengths. If we can use our strengths at work and develop them, we reach our true potential and feel more engaged at work.

Michael Huesmann, Managing Director of Knauf Insulation Central Europe, reflects: “Of course, some leaders are resistant to this type of training, but I would say, ‘Do me a favour and go down this route.’ Why? Because it is more fun to work like this. These initiatives showed me a sunny side of life and reminded me that the glass is half full not half empty.

“When people like what they do they look after each other, the positivity is shared and magnified.”

‘Health of our employees is an end in itself

Our HR Director for Western Europe Cédric Natalis highlights the importance of role-modelling positive leadership. “When leaders can pursue leadership development programmes based on the precepts of positive psychology this sends a strong signal. Building on strengths and motivations is an opportunity to shape work as something people want to do, in a community they want to be in. The health and well-being of our employees is, more than ever, an end in itself.”

Cédric’s region is working on a series of #myheromoment videos where employees talk about what motivates them daily. “We are showing everyone that mobilising their strengths really does play a major role in the success of our company.”

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For more information

To learn more about working at Knauf Insulation visit our career page and for more information about World Mental Health Day click here.


Picture in the header: WHO/World Health Organisation