As a society, we are increasingly seeing and understanding the importance of our wellbeing and its impact on the workplace. As more employees seek jobs from workplaces that prioritise their mental health strategies, it’s essential that employers understand wellbeing and how they can support those suffering with their mental health.
To mark last month’s National Day of Reflection and the beginning of Stress Awareness Month, and in a slight change from our normal topics, we wanted to explore the importance of wellbeing in the workplace, how it is currently affecting the workforce, and what employers can do to help their teams.
Current statistics on wellbeing in the workplace
It’s perhaps no surprise that many employees are currently reporting issues with their mental health. According to Champion Wellbeing, 67% of their professionals are reporting moderate to high levels of stress, and almost 35% report that this is having a negative impact on their health. This could lead to increases in stress-related absences or further serious mental or physical health problems.
However, figures collected by Nationwide Building Society show that employees are continuing to work through illness because of financial pressures and stress. Unfortunately, how we work is causing many to suffer from lifestyle diseases, but people are unable to take the time off they need to recover because of the financial implications. With this, it’s easy to see how a negative cycle of workplace stress and poor mental health can develop. But what factors are causing this increased stress amongst employees?
The factors behind stress-related illnesses:
We have all lived through an intense period of uncertainty over the past two years, and the impact of the global pandemic has undoubtedly affected workplace health. This could be through physical health, or the uncertainty caused by furlough, potential job losses, and anxiety about the future, all of which impact our stress levels.
Societal changes such as home schooling and working from home, which for many has resulted in increased hours and reduced breaks have taken up already stretched time and energy resources and added to the complications of adapting to working from home and reduced contact with friends and family.
Within the workplace, it could be debated that we are under increased pressure to compete with technology in terms of our efficiency, timekeeping, and perfectionism. Whilst technology has brought many advantages to the workplace, such as new opportunities and faster processes, arguably employees now feel an increased expectation to compete with technology to keep their jobs. But what can employers do to support their teams and help their wellbeing?
Wellbeing strategies for employers
To quote the HR Director: “Wellbeing isn’t a nice to have, it is necessary”.
If employers want to have healthy, creative, innovative, and productive employees, they must prioritise their health and wellbeing and consider them individually.
Employers should firstly take time to think of their own approaches to mental health. What structures, if any, do they have in place to support their workforce? Are any successful, or is there still high number of stress-related absences in their team. From here, wellbeing staff can put effective strategies and procedures in place, a vital step to promoting good workplace mental health.
Mental Health UK provide a few tips for future policies, including helping team members to find a work life balance. Many stressed employees feel pressured to continue working through their lunch breaks to stay on top of their workload. By encouraging people to step away from their desks, talk to colleagues, or even get outside for fresh air, you can help them to reduce their stress level and anxiety.
Employers could also promote mindful mental health practices in their workplaces. If people are more aware of how they are feeling and what’s causing those emotions, they can change unhealthy habits or ask for help.
Communication is vital for maintaining wellbeing, so employers should create the opportunities for people suffering with poor mental health to talk about how they are feeling in a safe environment. This could be with a member of a HR team, a fellow team member, or even a trained wellbeing consultant.
No matter the method, it’s important that employees feel they have a place where they can discuss their mental health without judgement or fear of repercussions. Just one conversation can have such a positive impact on someone struggling with stress, anxiety, or burnout.
What is your company doing to promote the health and wellbeing of your staff? Have you found any strategies to be particularly effective? We’d love to hear your wellbeing successes!