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Countdown bolsters its support of teams' mental wellness

Monday 8 October 2018: Countdown is one of the largest employers in the country and is very serious about providing a supportive and safe workplace for its 18,400 strong team. With so many Kiwis affected with mental health, Countdown has introduced mental health training and opened a 24 hour phone-line to ensure they are offering their team the support they need.

A 100 Countdown team members will have undertaken extensive training by the end of this month across its stores, logistics, support office and senior management to assist them in understanding the signs of mental illness and how to approach and talk to team members who may be impacted.

The company has also appointed eight trainers across New Zealand who will run workshops from the New Year in its stores and distribution centres to help team identify the signs and impacts of mental illness and how they can offer support.

Countdown now has a dedicated confidential 0800 number available 24/7 specifically to support team experiencing mental health, as well as a confidential email for team who are impacted that can reach out for support. The company also offers unlimited, free counselling that is 100 per cent confidential and independent.

Countdown General Manager of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Kiri Hannifin, says the company recognises the importance of this issue and is determined to provide both practical support for our team members and also raise awareness of the issue across our business to start addressing the unacceptable stigma attached to mental health.

“We want our team to know they work for a business that cares. And we do. Mental illness is a reality for so many Kiwis and the experience for too many is one of loneliness, isolation and fear. The message for our team is you aren't alone. We have a range of external support options available as well as a growing number of our own team who are especially trained in providing guidance.

“There are some very alarming mental health statistics in New Zealand that all of us should be concerned about. We know it's not just up to the health system to be provide support to those in need. As a big business, we also have a responsibility to do what we can to support mental wellness and provide a workplace that our team feel valued, safe and cared for,” she says.

Countdown was the first company to introduce a Transgender Transitioning Policy and one of the first to implement the Family Violence Policy.

“Over the past two years, we have implemented policies such as a family violence and transgender transitioning policies to support our team members in more comprehensive and holistic way than businesses have tended to in the past. These policies are now embedded and our focus is increasingly on mental health,” say Kiri Hannifin.

Taimi Allen, CEO, Changing Minds says that Countdown’s work in the mental health space is simply good business.

“Employees don't leave their lives at the door when they clock in, and a business that not only supports the mental health of it's staff, but values the resilience that overcoming challenges brings makes economic sense.

“Having a supportive workplace where people feel their employer has their best interests at heart is a place people want to come to work and ultimately saves money in productivity, attrition, turnover, absenteeism and presenteeism, “ says Taimi Allen.


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