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How to Promote and Improve Mental Health and Wellbeing in Your Workplace
By: Emma Hulbert on Apr 18, 2021 7:12:00 AM
Mental health is just as, if not more, important than physical health and is something that is ever present and ever discussed within the world today. Mental health can change from good to bad very quickly and, bearing in mind that most people spend the majority of their week at work, it may come as no surprise that workplace environment and culture can have a huge impact on our mental health and wellbeing.
Research has consistently shown that when employees feel supported and valued at work, they typically have higher levels of wellbeing and, as a result, are more committed to the company and its goals and therefore perform better in the workplace. It's unsurprising, then, that the relationship between staff wellbeing and performance is often termed ‘employee engagement’. A reason study by mental health charity, Mind, found that companies within the FTSE 100 that prioritise employee engagement and wellbeing achieve 10% higher production and performance levels than the those FTSE 100 companies that do not. This just goes to show that supportive, understanding and forward-thinking workplaces can benefit everyone, from employees to employers and to clients.
In this blog, we will look at ways to boost and promote mental health and wellbeing within your workplace.
The first step, and sometimes the hardest step, is to ensure that the senior leaders are on board and supportive. It is so important for senior management to be seen to prioritise staff wellbeing and to be aware that it really matters. Employees pick up on cues from how their managers and bosses act and behave, so if they are open and speak out about mental health and wellbeing within the workplace this demonstrates their supportiveness and commitment towards their employees. This may be something as simple as encouraging staff to leave their desk at lunch time and to go out for a walk, or to suggesting that they finish earlier than usual, if they have working late the day before.
The second step is to openly discuss the topic, where possible, so that it becomes less of a ‘taboo’ subject. Unfortunately, in many workplaces, mental health and wellbeing is still a very secret and irregular topic of conversation. Due to this, often employees don’t find it easy to talk to their boss, line manager or team leader about any worries, problems or concerns they have or how they are feeling and, as such, this can lead to the issues worsening. In order to stop this cycle, employers need to try to encourage people to speak out and discuss mental health, in order to raise awareness and break down these barriers, whilst proactively challenging mental health and wellbeing as being a ‘taboo’ subject. One way of doing this could be to invite a speaker in to your company to discuss how to promote mental health and wellbeing and how best to manage stress within the workplace. Another example would be to raise the awareness through internal communications within the company in the form of newsletters, posters, sending out tips and tricks, etc.
Keep Employees Informed and Included
The third tip is to try to encourage staff to get involved in decision making, wherever possible, and to keep an open dialogue within the company. Employees who feel informed, involved and part of what is going on within the business are more motivated and have a better understanding of where their role sits and what importance it has to the wider organisation. In order to improve staff motivation, performance and wellbeing it is important to be open about the direction and vision of the business and to try to involve staff in decision making where at all possible. For example, if you are looking at ways of cutting costs within the business, bringing in new technology or ways of making the company run more efficiently, broach the new changes with staff and encourage them to voice any ideas, solutions, input, or concerns they may have whilst, in turn, listening to their suggestions and addressing any issues that are raised. Employees who feel involved in the decision-making process then feel ownership of the outcome, leading to increased rates of morale and productivity. Here is a list of a few ways to promote conversation, feedback and involvement within a company:
Send out staff surveys or polls
Implementation or improvement of away days or training days
Create multi-team working groups for change projects
Run regular town halls or all-hands meetings to communicate company performance or changes to strategy
Implement a suggestion box for employees to contribute any ideas or air any concerns
Communicate board meeting decisions (where possible) with the wider business
Encourage Work/Life Balance
The final tip is to look at ways to encourage more work/life balance within the business. All of us are guilty of working long hours when going through a particularly busy time at work, however, whilst longer hours may seem do-able, the increased pressure and lack of work/life balance can very quickly result in burnout for employees. When employees burn out, they are more likely to call in sick and take time off due to stress, which also has a knock-on effect with regards to reduced morale and productivity within the wider business.
There are a few simple steps that can be taken to promote more of a healthy work/life balance, such as ensuring that employees are working ‘sensible hours’ (i.e. sticking to their contractual hours, wherever possible) and encouraging staff to take their full lunch break away from their desk. Encouraging teammates to take their full holiday entitlement, rather than 'the norm' being to roll holidays over, and allowing flexibility with regards to hours after a particularly busy period, are also great ways to ensure a balanced culture.
Another way to promote a healthier work/life balance within the workplace would be to look at offering flexible working, as this can result in healthier and more productive working habits. Even a small change, such as allowing staff to start work later or finish earlier two days a week, so that they can do things they enjoy, like going to the gym, picking up or dropping off their children, can hugely increase their mental wellbeing and allow them to fit their personal commitments around their work in better balance. From an employer perspective, this is also beneficial as it means that your employees are likely to be happier, healthier, more productive and less likely to take time off work due to stress-related illness or burnout.
Following these small steps can really help to promote and improve mental health and wellbeing within the workplace, which will result in huge changes within the business both for employees, employers and clients. However the key is to ensure, wherever possible, that senior leaders, managers and bosses consistently follow these key tips and lead by example.
Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash.
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