Whether you’re looking after a team, or want to look after your own personal wellbeing, our guide looks at how to enhance wellbeing and mental health in the workplace…
Why Workplace Wellbeing Should be on your Agenda this Year
According to Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey, each employee costs employers 27.5 days per year in sickness absence and under-performance at work, costing the UK economy £73bn per year.
More than a third of work absences are stress-related, while only 2 in 5 employees are working at their peak performance. Worryingly, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England says that while 61% of business owners and CEOs say employee mental health is well supported, only 40% of employees themselves think the same.
Until recently, workplaces have only made token efforts in addressing wellbeing among employees. However, gym discounts, fruit platters and 15-minute desk massages are no longer considered to be enough. There’s a huge drive to properly integrate wellbeing into training, development and the day-to-day life of businesses.
Companies that take wellbeing seriously notice a dramatic upturn in the performance of employees. Meaningfully integrating wellbeing into a workplace can include discussing how tasks will be achieved rather than just setting employees tasks to complete. This helps stop burn-out and stress before it begins.
Improving Mental Health
There’s a broader drive to remove the stigma around discussing mental health, and employers should be leading the way in this respect. Creating a work environment where it’s ok to speak up about mental health issues, anxiety and depression is the first step.
When employers take wellbeing at work seriously, it shows employees they’re valued. A compelling 74% of employees agree that knowing their employer is committed to wellbeing would make them more motivated at work.
More than Money
Employees nowadays look for more than money when applying for jobs. They want to know about other benefits and what the company culture is like.
Companies are starting to clock onto the fact that a brand comes to life through the people who work for it. In the current age of digitalisation and transparency, internal culture and external brand image are one and the same. Happier, healthier and more valued staff offer better customer service, in turn helping businesses thrive.
Demonstrably investing in employees’ health and wellbeing can only be positive for businesses and the people who keep them running. Make wellbeing a priority in 2018 for a more positive, healthy and committed workforce.
7 factors that can impact mental wellbeing at work and how to tackle them
Workplace stress is a serious concern. However, tackling mental wellbeing at work in a meaningful way can have far-reaching effects. Not only does it improve the health and wellbeing of employees, it boosts productivity and loyalty too. In fact, 60% of employees say they would feel more motivated and more likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work if their employer took action to support mental wellbeing.
Here are some factors that can impact mental wellbeing at work:
- Unrealistic workloads
Having too much work is one of the greatest stressors in the workplace, leaving employees feeling overwhelmed and out of control. Managers should ensure employees feel they are approachable to discuss workload and other issues, with regular one-to-one sessions scheduled.
- High pressure working environments
The feeling of pressure has a palpable knock-on effect in relation to the mental wellbeing of a workforce. This is why it’s so important to encourage employees to take lunch breaks, undertake physical activities and organise social events to achieve an improved balance throughout the work day.
- Lack of support
Mental wellbeing in the workplace is affected when employees feel isolated and unsupported. As well as managers creating ample opportunities for one-to-one conversations, organisations should also consciously implement policies promoting health and wellbeing.
- Poor communication about change
Times of uncertainty at work – whether it’s due to a restructure or the possibility of redundancies – can cause infinite pressure on individuals. Any times of change should be communicated with the support of robust change management guidelines and a variety of internal communications channels, while providing opportunities for staff to ask questions.
- Stressful physical working environment
Noise, space and other physical aspects such as temperature in a workplace can create an underlying feeling of stress at work. Create guidelines about appropriate levels of noise in the office, have ‘quiet zones’ where employees can work flexibly, and come to team agreements about the use of fans and heaters if temperature isn’t centrally controlled.
- Culture of keeping quiet
When mental wellbeing isn’t addressed or talked about openly in the workplace, this tells employees it isn’t appropriate to speak up about any mental health concerns they have. This should be addressed from the top, with leaders and managers speaking up about mental health in meetings and written communication.
- Lack of teamwork
Employees tend to become more stressed when they feel isolated or disconnected from their team. Organising team building away days can help to cement working relationships, resulting in more positivity and a greater sense of wellbeing.
Tips for taking wellbeing into your own hands at work
Mental wellbeing is a subject that deserves attention. Worryingly, it is estimated that one in four people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime (Business in the Community). Factors that can feel out of your control in the workplace can create stress, leading to a feeling of negativity and a lack of mental wellbeing both at work and at home.
But it is possible to take wellbeing into your own hands:
Evidence shows that people feel better about themselves when they have positive social relationships at work. Make an effort to talk to someone in person instead of sending them an email from time to time.
Take active breaks
Don’t be tempted to work through your lunch break. More time at your desk won’t necessarily make you more productive. Use your free time to do something positive, such as going for a walk or a swim. It’ll re-energise you for an afternoon back in the office.
Find strategies for stress
If your office is too noisy, put in some headphones and try listening to some calming music every now and again. If you’re constantly interrupted by others, plan your most intensive tasks for working from home days, or days when you can work in a quieter part of the office.
Change up your commute
Consider cycling for part of the journey to kick-start your day with a burst of endorphins, or get off the bus a stop early to walk and clear your mind before arriving at work.
Spruce up your environment
Cast a critical eye over your desk and working environment more broadly to see what bothers you about it. Clearing away clutter and adding a photo or desk plant can bring an instant feeling of relief.
Take hold of personal development goals
Learning is a fantastic way to increase self-esteem and improve a feeling of mental wellbeing. Put yourself forward for a training course you want to do – if you don’t ask, you won’t get.
Mindfulness and How it can Impact Wellbeing
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness, in its simplest form, means awareness. The practice of mindfulness offers a way to pay attention to the present moment, switching off auto-pilot and being more aware of ourselves and surroundings, observing things the way they are.
What are the Benefits?
- A self-report study in 2006 showed that anxiety, depression and irritability all decreased with regular sessions of meditation
- Office employees who participated in an eight-week mindfulness intervention experienced lower levels of work-related stress, greater job satisfaction, and, ultimately, enhanced job performance as rated by their employers
- Studies showed practising mindfulness for as little as 12 minutes a day improved the ability to resist distraction
- Regular mindfulness practices bolsters the immune system and reduces key indicators of chronic stress
How to be More Mindful at Work
1. Use Short Mindful Exercises
2. Take Regular Breaks
3. Eat Mindfully
4. Be Present and Pay Attention
5. Focus on one task at a time
6. Be Mindful in your Communications
7. Step Outside
8. Make Time for Self-Reflection
Download our eBook Guide to Wellbeing in the Workplace below: