Workplace Wellness: An Essential Guide
Despite mental health and wellbeing becoming buzz words in recent years, many businesses are not putting steps in place to tackle mental health at work and workplace wellness. We look at the factors which can contribute to employees mental health issues and provide practical guidance to implement workplace wellness initiatives.
The HSE reports that in the period 2016/ 2017 12.5 million working days were lost due to workplace anxiety, stress and depression. It may be the case that work-related issues are to blame or an employee may be dealing with stressful situations in their home life such as family issues or bereavement, whatever the circumstances employers have a legal responsibility to help their staff members.
‘Thriving at Work’ Review
The Government commissioned a review into workplace mental health in 2017, focusing on what businesses should be doing to support their employees and promote workplace wellness. Paul Farmer (Chief Executive of Mind) and Lord Stevenson were tasked with the review and produced the Thriving at Work report from their findings. They identified ‘Core Standards’ which employers should work towards putting in place to help improve overall mental health levels within their organisation.
- Employers need to understand the issues so that an effective workplace mental health plan can be put in place.
- Its important to have an open dialogue about workplace stress, thereby encouraging a positive outcome to help employees with mental health issues.
- Businesses should have a framework in place to monitor the outcome of these conversations and ensure key actions are followed through.
Tackle the Cause of Workplace Stress
To minimise the negative effects of stress on your employees and ultimately your business its crucial to tackle the root causes of stress and mental health issues. Do your staff members still turn up to work when they are unwell, or under-perform due to the pressures and demands of their job role? If so then there may be a wider impact on their mental health and workplace wellness.
Common key factors which can cause workplace stress:
- Poor working relationship and lack of trust
- An excessive workload and demands for longer working hours
- Unsatisfactory working conditions i.e. poor lighting, heating and break provision
- Conflict and disciplinary issues
By taking time to identify the factors which need addressing, not only can a plan be put in place but employees will feel that their mental health and happiness is valued. A healthy workforce is a happy workforce, therefore having a positive benefit to the wider business and productivity levels.
Making Workplace Wellness a Priority
So, now you have a clearer understanding of the stresses and strains your team face, the next steps you take are key in dealing with mental health at work. With so many different workplace wellness initiatives on offer how can you ensure that you are reaching those who need it most?
Key elements to consider when implementing wellness initiatives:
- 1. Communication – Talk to your team about what they feel would be the most supportive approach and what initiatives would they like to see implemented? An employee survey is a fantastic way to get engagement and will boost confidence that their issues are being taken seriously.
- 2.Individual Wellbeing Plan – Its important that team members feel their specific needs are being met, so the ‘one size fits all’ approach is simply not going to work. Consider providing an Occupational Health support service to give employees access to professional specialist advice so their workplace mental health issues can be dealt with effectively.
- 3. Get Involved –There may be certain staff members that are passionate about healthy living and wellbeing, by getting them involved in new health initiatives not only will it build their confidence and skill-set but they will act as role models to promote your wellness programme.
- 4. Flexible Working – Promote a good work-life balance with flexible working initiatives where possible. It may mean that a change in work culture is required, focusing on quality not quantity. Increasingly technology can support requests for flexible working and research has shown it has a positive effect on employee retention, productivity and mental health. In response to changing working patterns in the UK the Goverment’s Flexible Working Task Force was established in March 2018 to promote greater understanding about flexible working practices and increase opportunities for working flexibly.
For more information and support with mental health issues at work and workplace wellness contact our legally qualified team of Consultants here at Wirehouse.