60-second interview with Kelly Leslie

Kelly Leslie, 26/4/2018

Kelly Leslie is Human Resources Manager at Farrer & Co, London.

What does your firm do?

Farrer & Co is an independent law firm based in Lincoln's Inn Fields in London. We advise a wide range of clients - including individuals and private families, charitable institutions and businesses - across a broad spectrum of law.

You will be speaking about stress prevention and management at the STEP EPP Spring Forum on 17 May. What will the audience be able to take away from your session?

I'll be talking about what our firm has in place to prevent and manage stress and support mental wellbeing; I will also cover some of the most common challenges we face in this area, and how we address them.

How did you get interested in managing stress at work?

I have worked in Human Resources for 13 years and employee wellbeing has always been an area of interest. Law is a demanding profession, and it's important that those working in a law firm understand what they can do to manage stress, and what support is available to them.

What would you say are the major causes?

The causes of stress are personal to the individual; while having too much work is often considered a key source of stress; having too little can also have a negative impact. The stressors may be in an individual's personal life rather than work (or a mixture of both), so staff need to feel that there is support for them there too.

What are the risks for employers that do not support their staff with mental health problems?

The risks are vast and significant. In terms of performance, lack of support can lead to disengagement, reduced productivity, and difficulty feeling part of the team. From a medical perspective, a lack of support may exacerbate poor mental health, and lead to a longer term mental health problem.

What practical steps can an employer take to look after those suffering from stress?

It's important to have a culture where people suffering stress feel that they can share their feelings with their employer, without feeling stigmatised. The practical steps will depend on individual circumstances, but line managers and HR can help those concerned explore what the triggers may be, and decide what coping strategies they can use, as well as encouraging them to seek professional support where appropriate.

What external resources are there?

There are plenty, including Employee Assistance Programmes, Occupational Health, NHS and company GPs. There are also some very helpful websites, including MIND and Mental Health First Aid.

What would be your top tip for employers wishing to reduce stress in the workplace?

There’s no single solution; it's a combination of culture, line manager awareness, open channels of communication, and having the right resources in place should someone need more directed help.

Kelly Leslie is a Human Resources Manager at Farrer & Co, supporting the HR Director in the delivery of HR projects. She is Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualified and recently became a certified mental health first aider.