Stress and mental health issues are two of the most common reasons for long term absence in the UK. It has been reported that between 2017 and 2018, 15.4 million working days were lost due to work-related stress.
Struggles with mental health can affect your workforce, impact on performance and lead to absenteeism but a few changes can make a significant difference.
Developing a mental health aware business helps to create a happier and more productive work culture. It’s unsurprising that a happy, healthy employee will be better engaged, more productive and more likely to stay with your business for longer.
Having an empathetic culture is also a key factor. It’s important for leaders to identify when members of their teams are struggling so they can support them.
We don’t need to stress the importance of a healthy workforce and taking care of your employees’ wellbeing. But being aware of something and actually putting that knowledge into practice are two different things.
We take a look at four ways you can invest in your team’s wellbeing.
Create an Open Culture
Creating an open environment which supports mental health and promotes the sustainable wellbeing of staff, allows employees to feel able and comfortable with seeking support.
Organisations can develop a positive culture where mental health is discussed openly, what support is available to staff and how it can be accessed – this could be through active discussions, presentations or posters.
Regular communication about mental health can also encourage staff to discuss any difficulties. Even just asking colleagues if they’re OK can be a huge support.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to mental health – but small steps will help to address the specific challenges facing your workforce and help you improve the overall mental wellbeing of your team.
Encourage Social Activities
Social connectedness can help boost employees wellbeing.
Employers can actively encourage employees to have time away from their desks or work areas through organised activities and interaction in the workplace.
Online retailer Zappos delivers a programme called Wellness Adventures, where employees can participate in activities such as yoga, laser tag or trampolining.
Many companies create spaces where employees can decompress, like game rooms, gyms, and walking paths. Structured activities like meditation sessions and fitness classes can also help sustain employee wellbeing.
Some organisations question the importance of social activities, but there is strong evidence that employees are more productive overall when they have regular opportunities to socialise.
Offer Employee Counselling
We can all experience mental health issues at some point in life.
Counselling is a talking therapy that involves a trained therapist listening to you and helping you find ways to move towards a positive way of living, no matter the person or situation.
A counsellor can help you gain a better understanding of your feelings and thought processes, and find your own solutions to problems.
Counselling sessions are also confidential, so you can talk about things you might not feel comfortable discussing with anyone else.
Sharing concerns with your manager, friends and family is helpful, but it is very different from the relationship with a professional counsellor who has specialist skills for cognitive, behavioural and emotional issues.
A professional can help you resolve your difficulties, understand your thought processes and develop helpful ways of living.
Provide Workplace Wellbeing Training
Mental Health Awareness and Workplace Wellbeing training for managers and employees is growing.
Training can help participants recognise and understand some of the most common signs and behaviours of mental health difficulties in the workplace. Employees also have the capacity to learn new ways of thriving in challenging times.
The training gives managers the confidence to manage or approach situations sensitively with employees who may be experiencing struggles with mental health.
Sustainable employee wellbeing
Jobs that are rewarding and worthwhile can be great for wellbeing, and there is strong evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive.
To truly enjoy one’s job, today’s employees consider workplace flexibility, working with a purpose, and a commitment to health and wellbeing as top influencers.
Discover how Breathe’s EAP and Workplace Wellbeing Programmes can support all levels of your organisation.