Research carried out by Mental Health charity, Mind confirmed that “a culture of fear and silence around mental health is costly to employers.” They found that more than one in five employees in the study had called in sick to avoid work due to stress, while 14 per cent had resigned as a direct result of stress, and 42 per cent had considered resigning.

look after employees mental health

The research also found that while many employers (56 per cent) wanted to help support staff in their mental health, they didn’t feel they had the right training or guidance to do so. According to Acas (the UK’s Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) there is growing recognition of the importance of individual wellbeing inside and outside the workplace for improved workplace performance.

Employees mental health is an important aspect of workplace wellbeing and employers should be doing more to create mentally healthy workplaces if they want to retain staff, reduce staff absence and increase productivity.

It has been proved time and time again that a happy, healthy workforce is pivotal in business success. So, what is ‘good’ workplace wellbeing, why do employers need to support a mentally healthy workplace and how do they do it?

What is workplace wellbeing?

Wellbeing is defined by the UK Department of Health as “feeling good and functioning well and comprises an individual’s experience of their life; and a comparison of life circumstances with social norms and values.”

WHO (the World Health Organisation) describes mental health as a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.

Workplace wellbeing relates to all aspects of working life, from the physical environment and safety to how workers feel about their work, how much they feel supported, job satisfaction, opportunities, benefits, pay the social aspects of work and so on. Workers need to feel trusted and valued.

Workplace wellbeing covers all aspects of working life, but employers need to also consider work-life balance for workplace wellness programmes to succeed.

Why employers need to invest in a mentally healthy workplace

Organisations rely on a healthy and productive workforce. Without the right players, in the right places, in the right frame of mind, the team falls down. It makes no sense for employers to ignore the wellbeing of their staff.

In an employers’ guide by Mind on mentally healthy workplaces, it is reported that mental health problems, such as anxiety, stress and depression affect one in six of the British workforce each year. Work-related mental ill health is costing the British economy around £26 billion every year from lost working days, staff turnover and reduced productivity.

Research shows that organisations with effective wellbeing programmes outperform the market. Focusing on employee mental health and wellbeing is a socially conscious business decision, but the benefits for business success far outweigh the cost. Investing in a company culture with wellbeing at its heart makes good business sense.

5 ways employers can support good mental health at work

  1. Allow schedule flexibility

Not every business is suited to a virtual workforce, but where possible give employees an option to work remotely some of the time. Smart and flexible work scheduling, part-time roles and freelance jobs are key to flexible working, and play a direct role in well-being when it comes to stress, and mental health. Increasing evidence suggest that flexible work options make employees and companies healthier.

Unpredictability in work scheduling undermines work-life balance. Erratic shifts and unpredictable work schedules make it harder for employees to plan their lives outside of work, and that alone can cost them sleep and cause unnecessary stress.

  1. Provide a digitally-free rest zone

Tech giants aren’t offering sleep pods at work purely out of the goodness of their own hearts. They understand the importance of workplace well-being and a power nap or 10 minutes downtime can make a huge difference to productivity and help to reduce stress. Setting up a phone-free zone with comfy chairs will let your staff know you support them taking a break.

  1. Encourage both autonomy and teamwork

Employees need to feel both supported and trusted. A recent study into workplace culture carried out by the University of Birmingham found that employees with higher levels of autonomy at work had higher levels of job satisfaction and reported positive effects on their overall wellbeing.

Teamwork is equally important. Fostering collaboration and cooperation can help break down departmental barriers, increase understanding of the business, and create stronger bonds between colleagues.

  1. Promote wellbeing

Raising awareness and encouraging discussion about wellbeing and mental health will help to overcome prejudices. It means employees are more likely to disclose any issues sooner and you as an employer have an opportunity to offer support.

Simple solutions like offering reduced working hours for an agreed time or some flexibility in start time could prevent an employee from taking time off sick.

Investing in staff wellness with benefits such as gym memberships and fruit bowls, can also help staff to feel supported and promote a healthy environment to be working in.

Mental distress

Encourage a good work-life balance

Encouraging a healthy work-life balance is at the heart of supporting good mental health at work. Research suggests that long working hours, coupled with sleep disruption, causes a deterioration in task performance (pace of work and rates of error), slows productivity, and has implications for health and safety. Organisational case studies also indicate that long working hours have a negative impact on motivation, absence and turnover.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 829 other subscribers.

Follow us on Twitter