by Kerry Norman | 15 May 2019
With increased workloads comes heightened stress, and many of today’s working population are reported to feel overwhelmed and unhappy in their jobs. More than 300million people suffer from mental health issues globally meaning it’s a hot topic and it needs to be taken seriously. In this blog, Kerry Norman, Principal Consultant and HR recruitment specialist offers her advice for business leaders on promoting health and wellbeing in work to ensure staff remain well and productive.
Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is an increasingly important part of a company’s culture. Not only can it help your employer brand and staff retention, but a strong wellbeing policy can also save money in the long run by reducing stress–related absences and increasing productivity. If you are in the early stages of putting a mental health and wellbeing policy in place, take a look at these top five tips from our HR clients to help get you started.
Conduct a thorough risk assessment
There are many triggers for stress and mental illness in the workplace, and some of them can be seemingly small issues that are easy to fix. Conducting a thorough risk assessment will allow you to see the common causes or triggers of stress within your organisation. You could start with an anonymous survey to ask employees for honest feedback on their pain points, then analyse the data to see what patterns emerge. You might find that something as simple as failing to take a lunch break is causing people to feel more pressured at work, so encouraging this for everyone and making sure there is a dedicated area for people to take a break from their screens would be a simple solution.
Your risk assessment could also reveal that people feel overworked and lacking recognition from their managers, so more regular catch ups and discussions about their workload would minimise this.
Train yourself and business leaders
While some signs of poor mental health are obvious, others can be much harder to recognise. If you are in charge of your company’s HR you should consider undertaking mental health training so that you are in the best possible position to spot any problems at the earliest stage. Business leaders should also explore mental health training to give them a better understanding of potential issues and the impact workplace stress can have on these.
Finally, you should also look at training managers and people throughout the business so that there is a good number of well-informed people at different levels. This will ensure there is always somebody that each employee feels comfortable approaching about any wellbeing concerns and discussing their mental health. Take a look at MHFA website for their fully accredited courses on mental health in the workplace.
Offer a healthcare plan
Many businesses already offer healthcare plans to cover physical care like optical, physiotherapy, chiropody and dental treatments, but does your policy also include wellbeing and mental health? At Sellick Partnership, we opted for a plan that gives staff access to alternative therapies that help to relieve stress, as well as a 24/7 helpline to discuss any wellbeing concerns in confidence. The Medicash plan is offered to all eligible employees after 12 months of service and it is another way to show employees that we care about every aspect of their health & wellbeing.
Healthcare plans are particularly useful if you struggle for HR resources in your organisation, as it can remove some of the burden from managers and provide professional assistance to those in need. They are a highly valued benefit and will also help to set your business apart from its competitors when employees are considering who they would like to work for.
Look at your physical surroundings
Our physical surroundings have a huge impact on the way we feel in the workplace. Natural light, plants and ambient temperatures can all have a positive effect on wellbeing, so consider whether your office could benefit from a few tweaks or something more substantial.
A study of people in the United States, India and an online panel concluded that: “Natural elements and sunlight exposure related positively to job satisfaction and organisational commitment, and negatively to depressed mood and anxiety”. If you are unable to get enough natural light in your workplace, consider how best you can imitate this with artificial lighting and encourage employees to take regular breaks outdoors during lunchtimes.
You should also encourage staff to take time out of the workplace for longer periods, arranging lunches and teambuilding days that let people step away from their usual surroundings with their colleagues and managers. We host regular teambuilding events at Sellick Partnership where we go to different locations – sometimes overseas – to give staff the chance to reconnect with their peers.
Create an open culture
All wellbeing and mental health policies should be underpinned by good communication and an open culture. It is crucial that employees feel able to discuss their emotions and share any concerns, either with their manager, HR team or appointed mental health first aider.
At Sellick Partnership, we have regular one–to–one review meetings between managers and their teams where staff are encouraged to be completely honest about their feelings in and outside of work. These are supported by annual personal development plans that support their career progression, and informal catch ups to discuss anything that falls outside of their role that they would like to talk about. It means our managers are always well aware of any worries before they progress and they can put measures in place to rectify them.
Sharing tips on wellbeing and discussing mental health openly will also add to a more transparent culture that supports all additional measures.
We regularly advise employers on how to implement mental health strategies, so contact us today to discuss your requirements, or take a look at our suite of employer and candidate resources for tips on everything from getting your culture right to writing job descriptions that will attract the perfect candidates for your business.