Prime Accountants

Prime Accountants Group is a medium-sized accounting firm that employs around 100 people across its offices in Birmingham, Solihull and Coventry.

The firm, which can trace its roots back to the 1940s, provides a range of financial services for clients, including auditing, bookkeeping, tax, financial advice, and payroll services.

Staff mental health and wellbeing

Prime had always encouraged its staff to look after their physical and mental health but had not adopted a specific method at the company for staff to get help if they were struggling.

After signing up for the West Midlands Combined Authority’s ‘Thrive at Work Workplace Wellbeing programme’ – one of the free resources offered through Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council – Prime has seen positive results in staff productivity and morale.

Prime had to fulfil several criteria to earn Thrive at Work’s Bronze award which they achieved in March 2020 with the support of Jenny Duggan. This proves a firm has clear procedures in place to monitor staff‘s attitudes to health, including mental health and to help workers address any needs that arise.

Prime first heard about the free Thrive at Work programme through Coventry City Council, at a Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce event. Steven Harcourt, a director at Prime Accountants Group, immediately felt signing up to the programme would be immensely beneficial.

He said: “We had always done things here and there to help our employees’ mental health, but Thrive at Work looked like a programme that would bring it all together. We decided to sign up for the programme at the start of 2019. We felt it had the potential to really help not just the mental wellbeing of our staff, but their productivity too”.

What they did

Prime conducted an anonymous survey of its employees to assess what the mental health of staff was actually like, rather than what directors had simply assumed.

Three ‘mental health champions’ were appointed, who would be responsible for assisting staff to monitor their own and each other’s mental health and spotting any signs something may be wrong.

Alongside regular intranet messages, a signposting system was put in place to enable employees to find the help or support they needed.

Steven said: “The survey showed us there were more problems than we might have thought – as staff, understandably, would not have mentioned these problems to us directly. We knew we had to put in proper systems to support health and wellbeing, and these included the three mental health champions.

“Through online training, we also made it clear throughout the company that mental health was nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed, making it clear if something is wrong early on can often prevent more serious problems in the future.”

Just after Prime Accountants Group achieved its accreditation, the country was placed into lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prime had to furlough some of their staff, with the rest having to work from home. This created a new set of pressures on mental health that may not have been present before.

The new mental health champions at Prime were diligent in checking on staff members – all were regularly contacted throughout the lockdown, even those who were on furlough.


Steven Harcourt, Director at Prime, said: “The changes we made meant we could be a lot more proactive with our workers’ mental health rather than reactive.

“We hope it also means that any stigma associated with mental health issues has gone. The commitment we made by achieving our Thrive at Work bronze accreditation means our employees can now be confident in talking about any issues they are experiencing, instead of keeping it to themselves.

“For example, we had a lady working for us who lived far away from her friends and family, and when the lockdown was enforced, she asked if she could move away to live with them for the time being as she was finding it very hard. As we were all working remotely, we were happy to grant this request for her.

“If we hadn’t signed up to Thrive at Work and shown our commitment to supporting staff mental health, I’m not sure if she’d have felt confident enough to raise the issue with us. But because she did, we were able to find a solution that positively impacted her mental health, and meant she was able to continue working for us. If she had not said anything, it may have resulted in long-term sickness further down the line.”

Steve feels other companies should take a keen interest in staff mental health.

“I’d really encourage businesses to sign up to a workplace wellbeing scheme like Thrive at Work,” he added.

“We have always said that our staff members are our biggest asset, and a good business needs to protect and nurture them. We want to support our staff to deal with any problems early on, and to prevent long term absence or low productivity which is crucial for our business.

“The pandemic put a huge strain on our employees’ mental health. Thanks to Thrive at Work, we were supported to put measures in place to ensure staff could reach out to colleagues and discuss any issues they might be having and could easily find help.”

Thrive At Work

Address: One Friargate

Garden Organic

Garden Organic is the national charity for organic growing. Through campaigning, advice, community work and research, it aims to get everyone growing organically. The charity, based in Coventry, was established in 1958 and has 44 employees as well as around 400 volunteers.

Staff mental health and wellbeing

Garden Organic is a nurturing organisation that has always had informal measures in place to support the mental health and wellbeing of staff but did not always actively promote them.

Signing up for the ‘Thrive at Work Workplace Wellbeing Award’– a free resource offered by West Midlands Combined Authority and delivered via Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council– has helped the charity to be proactive, rather than reactive, in supporting staff, and it has not only seen a reduction in sickness absence but has found that employees are more honest and open about how they are.

What they did

With the support of Thrive at Work Coventry team, Garden Organic completed a number of tasks to earn Thrive at Work’s ‘Bronze’ level accreditation. This demonstrates that an organisation has clear procedures in place to monitor staff attitudes to health, including mental health, and to help workers address any needs that arise.

They began by asking employees to complete the Thrive at Work staff health survey and questionnaire and collated the data.

Using the findings from the survey, a list of staff health and wellbeing priorities was compiled and steps were taken to actively inform and educate staff about the support already available to them, such as flexible working, parental leave and bereavement policies.

Debi Rodgers, HR and compliance manager at Garden Organic, said: “The health survey enabled us to identify a number of priorities for how we could support staff. These included giving access to information and advice on sleep, physical health including how to prevent injuries, and easy access to advice about looking after mental health.

“We began providing information through staff updates, and we also arranged for external speakers to discuss more specialist topics.

“As well as being more proactive in reminding staff about the benefits already available, we reviewed and improved our Employee Assistance Programme, which is there to help staff deal with personal problems that may impact their work performance, health, and wellbeing.

“One of the main concerns from colleagues about using the platform was confidentiality, so we created one staff log-in rather than individual profiles. This meant everyone could be certain that any information was being accessed anonymously.

“Five of our managers also became mental health first aiders, which was very important. It gave them the confidence to deal with issues that were raised and staff felt comfortable speaking to them.”

Garden Organic achieved its Bronze level Thrive at Work accreditation in October 2020.


Debi said: “People are now more willing and comfortable to be their true selves. Employees feel comfortable speaking about their mental health, knowing that we offer a range of support to suit their individual needs.

“We don’t really have many issues with staff sickness, but we’ve certainly seen a reduction since we began working towards our Thrive at Work accreditation.

“We’ve also seen colleagues give honest reasons for absences rather than finding other reasons to take a day off. There’s been a real reduction in the stigma associated with mental health, and now people know that it’s OK to say when they’re having a bad day.

“It’s made Garden Organic an even nicer place to work. Staff are now aware of the benefits that were already available, and the flexible working policy has left them feeling empowered and in control of their day – something that has been particularly helpful during lockdown while we have been working from home.

“Staff are also confident to share ideas and interests to benefit the health and wellbeing of others, for instance, one colleague is giving a talk on Veganuary.”

Debi added: “Achieving our bronze accreditation has had a huge impact on the organisation. It has helped improve our culture, communication and the relationship between managers and staff and I believe it will support with levels of staff retention.

“It’s also helped us focus on the needs of employees, anticipating these in advance rather than being reactive.

“I’ve already recommended the Thrive at Work Workplace Wellbeing Award to others, and will certainly continue to do so. We’re looking forward to starting work on our silver level accreditation in January 2021.”

Thrive At Work

Address: One Friargate