One of Wales’s most successful businessmen is urging company bosses to do more to help staff with mental health problems.
Entrepreneur Alan Peterson OBE told business leaders in Wrexham that staff mental health difficulties have always been a massive issue that holds back many firms.
He was a keynote speaker at a breakfast meeting of Wrexham Business Professionals at the town’s Ramada Hotel last month.
The group is made up of successful businesses and highly skilled professionals working together to promote regional prosperity and the enterprise and expertise that exists in the region.
The other speaker on the day was Justin Albert, the Wales director of the National Trust.
Cardiff-born Mr Peterson is chair of both the South Wales-based international diagnostics provider, BBI Diagnostics, and the HSS Hire Group.
HSS Hire employs 2,900 people at 250 branches, providing tools, equipment and related services across the UK and Ireland, while the BBI Group offers diagnostic services in the healthcare, research, defence and the food industry across four continents and employs 450 people in facilities as far afield as America, China and South Africa
Mr Peterson’s stellar career has also included leading roles at big hitters like Meyer International, 3i Group PLC and Rubicon Retail.
“Mental health is a massive problem and all too often it’s an issue that gets ignored.
“It’s an issue that means many people are going to work and due to the stress they have in their lives they are only working at 50 per cent of their mental capacity. We have to be aware of these issues and help staff to deal with them.
“Think of a single mum who knows her child is being abused online. Naturally she will take that abuse into work with her it will be a load on her shoulders that she can’t shake off.
“As managers and business professionals we need to be sure we are aware of the issues and be ready to step in and help. Subtle changes in people’s lives can cause stress that will affect work performance.
“It’s something we all too often either ignore or are unsure what we need to do to remedy the situation.”
He added: “It’s about getting people to switch on in the workplace. It’s also about self-esteem. How people are treated at work is so important. Very often people have a side to them they just don’t bring to work.
“Very often the people you would never expect to help are the ones that come up with the best solutions.”
Mr Peterson, who is also the chair of the NSPCC Wales Appeal Board and Hon Colonel Army Cadet Wales, says business leaders need to switch on to the idea of getting their own people to be problem solvers.
“It’s quite simple, without innovation we can’t build success. Innovation is so important to the success of any business. It doesn’t have to be about someone inventing something like the new Dyson. The small things matter too.
“I’m delighted to have been asked to pass on some of my thoughts and ideas to Wrexham Business Professionals.
“If I can put forward some ideas and my experience that will help a business kick-on and achieve better results or simply inspire a business to become more prosperous then I’ll be happy. The simple message is that without innovation we can’t build success.”
And as chair of the NSPCC Wales Appeal Board Mr Peterson, oversaw the raising of more than £3 million of new funds during the initial two years of his appointment in 2016.
Since then the charity has expanded its extended network throughout Wales through a series of major events.