From small family businesses to corporate organisations, all our members rely on a healthy workforce to deliver successfully. Following World Mental Health Day (held every 10 October) we invited CIRAS member Advance TRS Ltd to share how they transformed staff wellness across their business. Their experience shows that it’s possible for a relatively small business to develop cost effective and successful wellness programme by thinking creatively and learning from the experience of others.

Advance TRS provides recruitment services and specialised labour to a range of sectors including railIn 2019, it embarked on a journey to deliver a step change in mental health and wellness support for staff. Marketing and Development Manager Ella Gardiner championed the transformation, with the full support of the Board and Senior Management Team. 

Getting started 

Ella kicked things off by completing her Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Training in February and networking with industry peers to ensure the new programme was underpinned by best practice and the experience of others. The result was a new ‘Employee Engagement and Wellbeing Programme', launched across the business during Mental Health Awareness Week in May 2019. 

Launch week focused on getting everyone engaged. Activities included three mental health awareness sessions, to give the whole business insight into how stigma impacts on thoswho need help with their mental health. The week also featured a lunchtime meditation session, a group walk, a bake sale to raise money for local mental health charity Oakleaf Enterprises, and a field visit to the charity’s centre.   

Maintaining the momentum

A successful launch is just the start. Long term impact relies on embedding mental wellbeing within the business. The Advance TRS programme does this in several ways:

  • All new employees complete an online module on mental health awareness during their induction, and biannual courses coach managers how to support their staff effectively.  
  • Quarterly mental health workshops for all staff cover topics ranging from the impact of mental health issues to methods of self-help and wellness techniques for everyday living.    
  • Mental health features regularly in the company’s internal bulletin, including activities or ideas on how to build wellness into everyday life.    
  • ‘Mental Health Matters’ bulletin is sent to all the company’s contractors, highlighting support available across the UK and showcasing some of Advance TRS’ clients work to combat stigma and discrimination in their own businesses. 
  • As the resident Mental Health First Aider, Ella is the ‘go to’ person for anyone seeking advice, guidance on accessing support, or simply someone to talk to.   

Wellness Wednesday

Following the popularity of the meditation group started in Mental Health Awareness Week, one of the company directors now leads a weekly Wellness Wednesday meditation session - outside in nice weather or inside in inclement weather. This often consists of meditation but sometimes includes yoga, stretching or other mindfulness activities. It’s a great example of how something simple and cost-free can deliver real benefits. Here’s what staff think:

“After the mental health awareness week, I love that we’ve carried the energy on by setting up the Wellness Wednesday sessions. Taking 10 minutes out of the day just before lunch to settle your mind and body, really gives a positive end to the morning and makes you feel ready for the afternoon ahead.” Marketing Executive, Advance TRS 

“Just having those 10/15 minutes has really helped to improve my focus and appreciate the benefits of meditation. It’s great as its mid-week and definitely puts me in the right frame of mind to conquer the rest of the week.” Payroll Manager, Advance TRS 

Recognition for the programme

The Advance TRS Employee and Engagement programme was a finalist for the Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing Award category at the Solent Business Awards 2019 this October. This award seeks to recognise imaginative and supportive mental health policies that engage people throughout the business. 

To find out more about the Employee and Engagement Programme at Advance TRS, contact Ella Gardiner at