Mindful of mental health

Mental Health initiative in UK

We are making resilient mental health and well-being a priority for 2025. We learned a great deal about nurturing positivity in 2020.

Knauf Insulation has always put the care of its people first and foremost – it is embedded in our promise to challenge.create.care. When it came to COVID-19, our teams set up initiatives to support mental health and well-being including workshops, coaching sessions, online assistance for those in need as well as leadership development and online courses.


‘The well-being of our colleagues is our priority’

“We want to implement a holistic approach to the well-being of our colleagues in Systems Division,” says HR Director Katja Pruša.

“This means looking at their physical, mental, social and financial health and implementing programmes and activities which provide opportunities to raise awareness and build skills to positively impact well-being.”

Although the initiatives are at an early stage, says Katja, the aim is to inspire a journey of cultural development. “This journey has to be appreciative of our colleagues. We aim to take an employee-centric perspective and ensure their well-being is prioritised across their entire work life cycle.”

The baseline for this is in the positive psychology, strength-based approach and appreciative inquiry philosophy which are relevant and innovative approaches to organisational change. “When we experience positive emotions, we score highly on tests of creativity and are better at solving problems,” says Katja. “And this is very relevant for productivity and innovation.”


‘Colleagues can access face-to-face counselling’

In 2020, Julie McKean, our Human Resources Manager for Knauf Insulation Northern Europe (KINE), received a Knauf Insulation Leadership Award and Knauf Group Award for championing initiatives to support mental well-being and increase awareness of mental health issues.

What were the key challenges facing KINE colleagues?

Supporting employees working from home who could feel isolated from others, especially those living alone. We also had people feeling anxious about coming back to work and the impact this could have on family members who are high risk. FOR A BETTER WORLD

What has KINE done to support mental well-being?

Our colleagues can benefit from our assistance programme provider. This is a 24/7 helpline and website available 365 days a year that offers free confidential support on personal, financial and legal issues. Colleagues can also have face-to-face counselling sessions and on-line Cognitive Behaviour Therapy sessions.

What have we learnt about well-being from the crisis?

We conducted a return-to-work survey to understand what extra support we could offer. The most cited reason of the benefit of returning to their normal work location was the increased social interaction with co-workers. Routine was also very important.

What will inform KINE’s future approach?

We plan to train more Mental Health First Aiders who have in-depth insight into mental health and well-being to help colleagues. We will continue to train colleagues to help them identify what good mental health looks like and how they can help.


‘70% of participants said the courses made them feel calmer’


More than a hundred colleagues joined supportive webinars in Russia & CIS organised by Glafira Kaliuzhnaya our Training & Development Manager the region.

Topics included handling thoughts, emotional comfort, balancing emotions against rationalisation, supporting family, older relatives and generating positivity, self-care, effective home working and planning days to be as stress-free as possible. Glafira said: “At the start of the quarantine it was difficult to make time for family, work and online schooling.

So, we shared stories of how different people were coping, what helped people stay positive and what advantages the crisis had created. “In a survey following the webinars, 70% of participants said the courses helped them to feel calmer, more inspired, and proud of the company.

“The webinars provided self-knowledge. You can say, ‘I don’t know what to do because I’ve never been in this situation. And it’s OK. I just need time to build a new plan and attitude. And my partner and children also need time.’ In other words, help people ground themselves.”

Pavel Vishnyakov, Managing Director Russia & CIS, on great teamwork:

"We managed to focus the whole organisation on what matters most — our employees’ well-being and health, great teamwork, sharp customer focus and outstanding results. Personally it was a touching moment to realise how strongly we care about and support each other in the company."

Pavel Vishnyakov, Knauf Insulation


‘Having support helps in so many ways’


At the height of COVID-19 it was not just the uncertainty of the unknown but also the fact that colleagues were playing so many roles, says Tania Orglerova, Regional HR Director Eastern Europe & Middle East.

“They became teachers for home school children, they were managing complex family situations and they were trying to do their job. Naturally it was challenging,” she says. 

Across all the countries in her region, Tania organised webinars to support colleagues with well-being issues such how to stay mentally fit and how to be optimistic.

The initiative was followed by a survey to see how the company could help more. “Now a pilot Employee Assistance Programme has been launched in Slovakia and the Czech Republic which includes a 24/7 free hotline offering counselling, legal and financial consulting support. Stress can come from different sources,” says Tania.

Further initiatives have included new webinars for colleagues in Hungary and a project in the South Balkans focusing on emotional intelligence. Meanwhile, colleagues across the region have taken up roles as engagement champions in their plants.

“This is a bottom-up project, where they learn how to support teams and come to management with initiatives. Having support helps in so many ways, such as fewer accidents and more engaged people,” says Tania.

Banner image: A committed team in the UK pledges to take care of employees‘ mental health (photo taken in the end of 2019)



Read our Annual Review 2020!