Well-being in the workplace

With more than 15m working days lost in the UK due to mental health issues, it makes sense for businesses to pay attention to their employees' well-being. Mentor's Edwina Redhead shares practical tips to help improve mental health in the workplace.

We often hear it said that people are a business's greatest assets, yet with over 15m working days lost in the UK due to stress, anxiety and depression, employees working longer hours than ever before and increased demands placed on most roles, it's never been more important for firms to have a well-executed well-being strategy.

An increase in absences attributed to mental health conditions reduces the UK's productivity levels, impacts service provision across a variety of sectors and places additional pressure on health services.

On the flipside, employees who are healthy, happy and satisfied are more likely to function better, which leads to increased engagement and performance in the workplace. Adopting positive working practices that promote well-being is not only good for business but good for society.

"Leaders should act as role models and display healthy working practices as they set the tone of the company culture."

Making a change in your SME

Here are five practical steps businesses can take to improve employee wellbeing. 

1. Look at your leadership

Leaders should act as role models and set the tone by demonstrating healthy working practices. Regularly working late or sending emails through the night sends a negative message to your team and can have a significant impact on those around you.

2. Understand your business environment

Conduct a well-being audit. Are the demands of the role or changes in the workplace placing excessive pressure on staff? Do staff know what's expected of them? Consider the pressure points within your business and any actions that could be implemented to overcome these.

3. Upskill line managers

Can managers adequately spot warning signs that an employee may be suffering from anxiety or stress? Are your managers confident in their ability to support staff? Do your managers know how to signpost employees to other support services that may be available to them? The provision of additional training for line managers may need to be considered. 

4. Create a culture that values employee well-being

What are your employees telling you they need? Having regular forums or well-being champions situated throughout your business should help ensure that the needs of employees at all levels are considered

5. Promote well-being initiatives that are aligned to your business's needs

Look at the available data. Consider the findings of any well-being audits, alongside absence reports and the results of any well-being forums. A lunchtime yoga class may appear to be a great initiative but uptake may be low if this doesn't meet your company's needs.

By Edwina Redhead

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