The health and wellbeing of employees are essential in creating a healthy and constructive workplace. Being happy in the workplace shouldn’t be a nice-to-have but a core component in the productivity and service provided by a business or organisation. Yet, experts in the field are less convinced that it is being given the priority it deserves, citing the £45 billion per year that mental health-related illnesses have cost the economy and the 70 million workdays lost each year.
Focusing on the maintenance of wellbeing in the workplace has more than a financial benefit. The level of work will improve, productivity will be higher, the staff turnover will drop as will the number of sick days, customer service will improve, and your company’s reputation.
With the obvious importance of wellbeing at work established, how can employers help maintain a healthy and happy organisation?
Regularly take account of the wellbeing of the company
Measuring general wellbeing by tracking absence rates allows you to draw attention to negative trends. There are obvious trends to look out for in days taken for stress or low-level illnesses that can be a symptom of stress. Tracking these numbers against industry norms gives you the best picture, as some sectors are more prone to mental health-related absence.
However, tracking for the problem means you will have a problem before you intervene. It is also good to monitor excessive working hours and unused holidays, as you might be encouraging unhealthy behaviours that could lead to poor mental health.
Regularly praise employees and offer constructive feedback
Making sure your employees feel valued is a key to maintaining mental wellbeing. Anybody thrives in an environment where their efforts are validated. However, offering constructive criticism is a symbol of being valued, as the employee feels like they are being invested in and there is a desire for improved performance. The employee will feel valued and encouraged to work towards more ambitious goals in an ideal world. Delivering feedback with kindness will avoid resentment that can negatively impact mental wellbeing.
Break the taboo of talking about mental health
Encouraging team members to become mental health first aiders signals an acceptance that poor mental health is a part of life. It also helps people talk about something that has long been taboo, as there is a resource to use.
Equally, checking in with employees and their feelings, workload, and work-based relationships offers opportunities to voice frustrations before they evolve into a bigger problem.
Keeping the lines of communication open is good practice in business on any level. Managers often talk of an open-door policy, where team members can approach them about anything. However, trust, compassion, and empathy all need to be practised if this open-door will elicit positive results. It is up to the leader to encourage the conversations and create a safe environment where only benefits are shared.
Role model a healthy work-life balance
Balance is a result of a culture within a workplace. If there is a culture of working long hours and not taking holidays, people feel pressured to comply. However, if the leaders in a company role model the best practices in work-life balance, then the culture will prioritise family and downtime as much as to company KPIs.
In the short term, crazy long working hours and total commitment can offer great returns. However, over time productivity and effectiveness will deteriorate along with the outcomes for your business.
Offer employee benefits
Having a package of benefits in a workplace can promote a healthy lifestyle and manage mental wellbeing. Including a package with gym memberships and getaway resorts can signal the behaviours to deliver better mental health.
On a more basic level, offering a great pension and options to buy into a company can help employees feel valued. Employees will feel they have a long-term stake in the organisation and with low churn comes to a greater sense of belonging.
Enrol leaders on mental health courses
While having mental health first aiders amongst the team is a positive step forward, educating leaders is much to gain. On one level, understanding mental health and appreciating the signs of something going wrong needs to be taught. Then, appreciating the best ways to intervene is challenging. Leaders need practical knowledge to feel empowered to assist those struggling in the workplace.
Promote, maintain, intervene
When looking for the best conclusion to maintaining workplace wellbeing, three words help: promote, maintain, intervene. To begin with, it is important to have strategies that promote balance and psychological safety in the workplace. Second, you need to maintain this with a close analysis of company data and stepping in before there is a significant problem. Finally, leaders need the training to understand when to intervene and how. With this approach, there will always be something to create a happy workplace that is essential to success.
This article was written by Nick Cooper, who is the resident blog author for NCC Home Learning. Nick has a vast amount of experience when it comes to creating engaging content for the NCC Home Learning audience. He covers a range of topics from teaching to business related articles and much more!