Following on from World Mental Health Day on 10th October, this month’s blog focuses on the wider issue of employee wellbeing and what you can do to help your employees help themselves.
What makes for a healthy workplace
As an employer we like to believe that we are running a tight ship with effective policies, hardworking content employees and a happy productive working environment. But is this really the case? Do you know what an unhealthy workplace looks like? ACAS suggests that the following are some of the indicators that all may not be well…
• Poor customer service
• High levels of absence
• Reduced productivity
All is not lost however. It is never too late to work with your staff to make a better environment for all. Work with appropriate team members to create effective company policies that are adhered to and communicate these affectively to all. Offer training courses to line managers and other key staff to help them support those who are experiencing mental health concerns. Managing Staff Experiencing Mental Ill Health is a useful guide. With an estimated 57% of UK workers having mental health difficulties at some point in their life, it would be a worthwhile investment of both time and money. Charities such as MIND provide advice, support and training courses to individuals and companies.
It is reported that 45% of UK companies now have a clearly-defined wellbeing strategy in place, (up 15% from 2016). The top areas of focus in these schemes are mental health support, employee assistance programmes (EAPs) and on-site medical support.
EAPs aim to help employees with both personal and professional concerns that could, if left, impact their job performance, health, mental and emotional well-being. Research undertaken by Punter Southall Health and Protection revealed that these schemes were favoured by 89% of employers thanks to their success in helping employees cope with personal or work-related issues in an effective way.
Create a culture of healthy working relationships between management and staff; one where employees have opportunities to feel valued and involved in the businesses future. This will help to build trusting relations between colleagues and management allowing for open and honest communications and support to be offered. Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Workplace is a useful guide.
There is however, a limit to how much you as an employer can do. The most proactive course of action would support and encourage employees to help themselves whenever possible.
Get them moving
Simple steps such as banning the use of unnecessary emails or calls; encourage staff to walk to each other’s desk to discuss matters instead. Utilise a spacious office; not only do they allow for collaborative working but they’re also a chance for employees to get some exercise. Regular exercise has proven to have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts overall mood. You do not necessarily have to move office base to achieve this – simply re-structuring the office layout and investing in height-adjustable tables, that allow for sitting or standing work, or treadmill desks, can all provide employees with a more positive working environment. Encourage desk based staff to try an office workout from their desk, go to: Office workouts you can do from your desk, alternatively add an element of competition and encourage staff to complete a weekly ‘step’ challenge.
Having a secluded space for employees to go and de-stress in private could help prevent any workplace issues before they arise. Dealing with Stress in the Workplace is a useful guide. Let your employees know that they have this safe space to go and calm down in, before everything gets on top of them. Have clear guidelines of use set out in a working policy to prevent any misunderstandings occurring.
Good stuff in, good stuff out
We all know the benefits of healthy eating, as the old ‘an apple a day…’ saying goes. Getting your recommended amount of fruit and vegetables a day can help keep your heart healthy and improve overall wellbeing. If you have a communal kitchen or sitting area, consider putting out fruit bowls for people to pick at as they pass. To share the cost, you could talk to your team members about each paying a small amount into a monthly kitty that is used to buy healthy food and snacks for the team to share.
Ultimately, the main thing to remember as an employer is that you need to be trusted, approachable and considerate towards how employees may be feeling. Support them to find a working solution that is right for them and be prepared to make reasonable adjustments to achieve this. Raising people’s happiness has been proven to make them more productive by between 7% – 12%, a positive result for all parties.
For more advice or help on improving your employee’s wellbeing, contact us on 01582 883299 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.