Orange squiggle Pink cross Yellow crosses 3 orange wavy lines Orange dashes

Resources > Blog > Employee Engagement

How can Employee Generated Content support employee Mental Health?

This Mental Health Awareness Week we're exploring the link between employee storytelling and employee wellbeing and mental health. We’re asking the question - ‘Can Employee Generated Content play a part in supporting positive mental health for employees?’

George Barlow image

Written by George Barlow

14 May, 2024  –  5m read

5 minutes with Daniel Callaghan, mental health activist and Senior Employer Brand Advisor at Clyde & Co.

“In my experience I struggled most in thinking I was alone and feeling isolated, so providing a platform or programme to allow employees to share stories can show that you’re not alone and connect people with different experiences.”

Daniel Callaghan, mental health activist and Senior Employer Brand Advisor at Clyde & Co

Daniel Callaghan is a mental health activist who shares his lived experience openly. In his role as Senior Employer Brand Advisor at Clyde & Co he understands the power content and words can play in creating and fostering an open and safe work environment.

“Our words have so much power, whether we know it or not. The words that we choose to use in everyday life have the ability to build someone up or tear them down. They have the power to be a light in darkness. It sounds cheesy but when you speak to a subject it allows the opportunity for something to grow from it.”

In our exploration with Daniel we identified ways that using employee generated content and providing a platform for authentic storytelling could have a positive impact for your employees.

In summary:

  • Gives employees a platform to share their voices and feel heard
  • It creates connection to help combat loneliness
  • It helps employees find solutions, coping mechanism and approaches from their peers
  • Employee Resource Groups can be a safe space for these conversations
  • It can positively impact your employer brand and boost recruitment efforts

How does sharing employee stories help others?

By providing a platform for employees to share personal stories and perspectives you can make a positive impact on the overall culture and environment for all employees.

Daniel experienced this first hand when he shared his own mental health story in the workplace while working at Thomson Reuters.

“I ‘came out’ with my mental health story/ experience in 2016. I was probably one of the first cohort of people in the UK doing it in a corporate setting, that I know of. It helped create conversations around it. At the time I wasn’t an expert, I still don’t claim to be an expert though I know more now, I was just sharing my experience in the hope that other people wouldn’t feel alone.

“It gives people permission to share their own experience, and create space for others to feel seen. Sharing stories and content on the subject allows for us to gain deeper understanding or appreciation of what someone might be living with.

“It also allows others to speak to the subject from a different perspective. You can have three people in a room all with ADHD and they could all manage their ADHD differently. It creates opportunities for people to see things from a different perspective and potentially find a coping mechanism that works for them that otherwise they might have not seen.”

Can internal communications content combat loneliness?

Loneliness is on the rise, and it’s impacting our workplaces. That’s what all the research is saying.

The World Health Organisation estimatesthat 1 in 4 older adults experience social isolation, calling it a public health threat. Loneliness is causing absenteeism, low productivity and low employee retention that’s having a knock-on effect on the business bottom line. In the US stress-related absenteeism attributed to loneliness costs employers an estimated $154 billion annually.

“People are craving connection.You only have to look at the WHO stats to see loneliness is becoming an epidemic so the ability to have conversations online and share content is becoming more and more important. Human interaction is still important but the digital space can be the bridge to the in-person space.”

Employees spend more of their waking hours at work than just about anywhere else, so it’s clear that connection in the workplace is essential for combating loneliness. Internal communications can create community and opportunities for social interactions, even for those who work remotely. By using employee generated content video and other storytelling content in your internal communications you can connect people even if they don’t share the same office.

“I’m really passionate about getting to know the people I work with because we spend so much time with our colleagues. In some cases we spend more time with them than we do with family or friends. So to be able to use a tool that can show what different people are doing, what they’re interested in, like outside of their job title I find really important. I’m part of the Parent and Carers network at Clyde & Co where I can meet other parents. Having a 6 month old helps me connect with people in a similar place to me”

What role do ERGs play?

Employee resource groups (ERGs) can be a space where these conversations can occur. Daniel shared his experience of how ERGs can play a part.

“ERGs play a massive role as a safe space for people to be able to talk about issues and how they can impact culture for the better.

“Being a straight white man from a council estate in the UK, and never having a corporate job before, going into Thomson Reuters in 2014 was a bit of a culture shock. It was through ERGs that I could connect with people from different backgrounds.

“I saw the Black Employee Network, the Women’s Network, the LGBTQ+ Network and assumed they wouldn’t be a place for me. I thought they were only for people who identified as being part of those groups. Fortunately I had a mentor who encouraged me to get involved. And then I was the only straight guy at the LGBTQ+ Network, the only white guy at the Black Employee Network.

“I listened, heard challenges, learnt about different perspectives. It was an education piece for myself personally. Now, knowing more fully the privilege I have as a straight white man, I tell other people who look like me to go get involved in ERGS, learn, and see how they can support them.”

How to start an internal conversation around mental health?

Getting started is normally the thing that stands in the way of successful programmes. Daniel recalled a colleague who wanted to have a mental health event, and asked him how to publicise it. He said ‘Just send out the invite, people are craving these spaces.” And they had over 50 people attend the event.

But if you’re apprehensive in starting, Daniel provided us with some essential top tips. If you’re an internal communications professional, manager, employee resource group, or an individual employee looking to start a conversation around mental health in your workplace, you should consider the following:

  • Get leadership support: “Leadership is critical. Not to say that every leader needs to share their own lived experience, but having senior leadership encourage the conversation is key to show it is a safe space. Senior leadership is so important in giving employees the comfort that they won’t be treated in a different way for disclosing something.”
  • Make sure there are programmes or experts around to help anyone that does share: “When people do share it can be quite an emotionally vulnerable place. When I came out with my mental health experience I had people all over the world contact me about it. While that was positive, I felt incredibly overwhelmed and sad to hear that so many people were struggling. I am a big fan of Brene Brown and learnt later in life about the vulnerability hangover. Make sure that you have appropriate Employee Assistance Programmes, health benefits, charity partnerships or expert support available.”
  • Remember the potential to trigger: “If what someone is going to be talking about will include emotionally challenging and potentially triggering content, consider including a trigger warning at the start of your content.”

How can conversations around mental health impact your employer brand and recruitment? 

While conversations around mental health are likely to start internally in an organisation, they can have a knock-on positive impact on the employer brand and aid recruitment marketing. Top talent, partners, and colleagues in other fields want to be aligned with companies that project a positive message and are seen as empathetic and genuine. It’s easy to show this when you care and support your employee’s mental health journeys. Standing by employees when they choose to share perspectives and openly acknowledging that mental health support is an essential benefit shows your company as a great place to work – because it would be!

Anything you share relating to mental health is a positive conversation as an employer, but sharing employee generated content could be better received. As Daniel explained:

“More and more research shows that polished and curated videos don’t perform as well, so if you have a tool to create authentic content the more weight those videos can carry. People buy from people and people are becoming less concerned about what company pages are doing and are more interested about what people in companies are doing. So employee advocacy and employee voice is becoming more and more important.”

If you’re ready to start a conversation and enable employees to share their stories, contact us or book a demo to see how Seenit can help.

Recommended for you

View all