For many employees, the workplace becomes a ‘second home’, as it’s where most of them spend their time when they’re not at home. Employers hold a responsibility to make their workplace a supportive and healthy environment where individuals find value and thrive.
Actively supporting your employees mental and physical health not only benefits the individual, but the company as well. From increased productivity, to reduced rates of absenteeism, there are many business benefits to implementing an employee wellness scheme, and our previous blog post highlights these in more detail.
So how do employers successfully support their workers, you may ask?
The first step in creating a more supportive working environment is to normalise conversations surrounding wellbeing. Many employees feel hesitant or scared to tell their employer if they’re struggling, so promoting positive discussions around wellbeing can encourage your staff to come forward when in need.
Another way of increasing awareness around the subject is to invite a speaker on mental health to your workplace to deliver a talk to your employees. Hearing what it’s like to have a mental health issue from people who have worked with and experienced this can help break down negative stereotypes.
Following on from the previous point, lead by example! As an employer, you should portray a clear message that staff wellbeing matters and by doing simple actions such as taking a proper lunch break, or eating healthily will encourage your employees to do the same. In doing this, you are becoming a positive role model for healthier work habits for your team.
Speak regularly with your team members to check in with how they’re finding their work and to give them an opportunity to address anything that may be causing them stress. This will help promote an open dialogue within your work environment and strengthen work relationships.
When a new employee joins your workforce, ensure they are given information on how they can manage their own mental health and are aware of what support is available to them should they require it. Educating your employees to recognise when their own mental health is declining can help with employee burnout prevention.
Management staff should also be trained in Mental Health First Aid and Stress Management, so they can effectively support staff members experiencing mental health issues. This should include how to spot the warning signs of deteriorating mental health and how to hold supportive conversations with team members.
As previously mentioned, it’s important to regularly check in your staff to help understand the stress factors that are affecting your team and to assess how successful your current wellness approach is.
The top workplace triggers for stress and mental health issues include: long working hours and minimal breaks, an overly pressurised working environment, unmanageable workloads, unrealistic expectations for deadlines, poor internal communication, job insecurity, difficult workplace relationships and more.
You can use methods such as internal surveys, focus groups, 1-1 sessions and monthly performance reviews to find out if there are any of the workplace triggers prevalent in your work environment and establish ways to improve your current workplace strategy and increase morale.
A positive work environment encourages their employees to further develop their current skills and build new ones. This makes employees feel genuinely valued and investing in their development helps improve staff self esteem and build up trust between employer and employees, leading to higher employee retention rates and productivity levels.
Investing in your employee’s development doesn’t have to be expensive. Firstly, look internally and see if you can provide staff with an in-house mentor (usually someone with experience or someone in management) who can use their own skills and knowledge to help others. You can also see whether your organisation is eligible to apply for government funding for developmental courses for your employees.
If an organisation is prioritising the wellness of their employees, implementing appropriate policies and practices is essential. These can be used as a set of guidelines to refer back to when needed.
Your policy should be clear on promoting wellbeing, supporting staff, and tackling the causes of work-related mental health problems. Staff should be aware of the support available to them and be directed to appropriate information and resources should they require them. These support and adjustment options should be explored before proceeding with disciplinary action in regards to performance, working time, sickness absence and return-to-work. Your policies need to recognise that an employee’s mental health can impact behaviour or performance and mental health should be at the centre of policies. These include health and safety, and policies that relate to the workplace culture such as equality, diversity, inclusion and bullying and harassment.
To conclude, 60 per cent of employees say they’d feel more motivated and more likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work if their employer took action to support mental wellbeing. If employee wellness isn’t a current priority in your organisation, what are you waiting for? There are only positive effects that can come from an effective wellness strategy, for both your employees and your business.