It is very important for any organisation to think about its employee’s wellbeing. Their employees help keep their business going and for an employer to show their support towards their employees can dramatically improve their employee’s wellbeing. Within this blog, we will discuss how poor employee wellbeing can affect employee mental health, as well as the benefits that come with the improvements of employee wellbeing.
In 2018/19, the HSE found that stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health cases. The main factors cited as causing work-related stress, depression or anxiety were workload pressures, tight deadlines, too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support. It goes without saying that these are all things which can be resolved by the organisation.
To also look at this from a commercial standpoint, the annual cost of work-related injuries and illness in 2016/17 amounted to £15bn, and over half of these came from individuals suffering from work-related anxiety, depression or stress. It is important on a personal and commercial basis that an organisation implements measures to protect their employee’s mental and physical health.
This is important now perhaps more than ever. We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is having mental as well as physical health effects. There are many studies reporting spikes in anxiety and depression levels during the pandemic. Increased anxiety levels have been linked to worries concerning the easing of lockdown measures and the re-emergence into society; returning to busy offices, having to use crowded public transport, being away from the home are all example of things contributing to this anxiety. But we are also seeing studies such as one conducted by Tan et al. that show the anticipated levels of anxiety, depression and stress, could be greatly reduced upon return to society by the measures organisations take to protect the health and safety of their employees in the workplace.
The good news is there are many things you can do to protect your employees. Below we list 5 steps you can take to manage mental health in your workplace.
If possible, consider implementing a flexible approach to work hours, workdays and work locations. These changes can allow your employees to take greater control over their work-life balance. For example, if they have children, working different times may mean they get to spend more time with them, or do not have the stress of rushing for the school run. Perhaps you have an employee whose mental health greatly benefits from exercise, these flexible hours may allow them to attend group exercise classes or have a discounted gym membership. If your employees can work from home, allow them to do this as often as you can reasonably permit. For some, coming into an office on a daily basis can negatively affect their mental health. There are many reasons why this occurs, for example, social anxiety can be amplified in a busy office or made worse by crowded public transport. The flexibility allows your employees to make time for their mental wellbeing and lessen some stressors.
As the figures from HSE above demonstrate, workload pressure is a key contributor to work-related stress, anxiety and depression. Make sure your employees feel sufficiently supported with their workload. Regular supervision is crucial to this, frequently check in on what they have on their schedule if they are able to manage it and give permission or assistance in delegating tasks if required. It is also important that the employer take action if the workload is frequently too high. You may need to review the individual’s responsibilities or consider employing more staff.
Sometimes it is easier to talk to an understanding peer about stressful or traumatic experiences than to a professional and this can be an invaluable first step to seeking expert psychological help at a later stage if needed. The benefits of trained and supervised peer support programmes are well documented and have become firmly embedded across all sectors. At CiC we offer a Mental Health Champions programme in which we help you to find, interview, recruit and train individuals who will form a well-trained, supervised and managed team of in-house mental health champions who can offer help and support to colleagues from lived experience.
The physical workspace itself plays a central role in the wellbeing of your employees. Not only should it be free from any physical health hazards – dangerous stairwells, foundations in need of repair, loose wires, leaks etc. – but it should also be designed to encourage the positive wellbeing of your team. Check that you have the following things in your workplace. Is their minimum noise with quiet spaces when needed, such as meeting rooms? Is there a space away from workstations when employees need to take a break? Is that space in good condition? Is there sufficient room for adequate personal space? Is the building kept inadequate and pleasant physical condition, providing a positive visual experience? Is there adequate natural light? Do employees have all of the equipment they may need? Are workspaces set up correctly, e.g. supportive chairs, correct desk, and screen heights? If your physical workspace is in need of repair, bleak or unnecessarily noisy, it can quickly begin to cause stress. Your workspace should provide a welcoming, calm and positive environment to your staff where they feel motivated and comfortable.
An Employee Assistance Programme is an invaluable tool in protecting your employee’s mental health. EAP’s come in many shape and forms but they all work to provide your people with additional support to improve and maintain their wellbeing. The typical focus of an EAP is counselling sessions to your employees without them needing to pay for this support. EAP’s can also provide you with specialist trauma support, mediation to resolve conflict and expert support for any global team members you have. At CiC we can offer your employees a range of support through a 24/7 AdviceLine. Through this, employees can access in the moment emotional support, a referral for counselling if appropriate, and also practical support such as legal or debt advice.
If you would like to further discuss the support you can put in place for your employees, please contact us at email@example.com