Creating a happier, healthier and more productive workforce has never been so crucial. Mental health affects at least one in four people at some time in their lives and right now in the UK, accounts for around 70 million lost working days each year, which has a huge impact on the absence costs for employers.
Covid-19 and the lockdown had an enormous influence on this and many people suffered mental health issues due to being isolated and unable to work. As a result, there was a definitive increase in encouraging staff to work from home and many organisations had to make drastic adaptations to keep the business running smoothly.
Supporting the workforce
It has become apparent that over the last couple of years, different support and wellbeing strategies have needed to be put in place to assist in the mental health and wellbeing of each employee, whether they work from home or are office based.
If CEO’s and Senior Management can create a working environment that not only has strong leaders who nurture and support their peers, but also have wellbeing plans in place for each employee, then it could transform the wellness of each member of staff and help create a more productive workforce. This in turn would improve absence levels and boost the morale of the people, knowing they are supported and more importantly, they are valued and listened to.
It is also crucial that the staff have a clear understanding of the values and vision of the organisation and the leaders are empowered to confidently deal with their teams and apply a consistent approach throughout.
Confidence through confidence
Leadership and Management coaching is something that has been utilised successfully for a number of years to improve how senior staff communicate with their teams, but the use of Mindset and Self Development coaching is quite unique and certainly becoming more popular as it is being introduced. It is slowly being acknowledged that it can have a huge influence on the improvement of the mental health and wellbeing of staff and increase productivity and communication in the workplace.
Individual wellbeing plans should also play an important role alongside the coaching as they can highlight any potential issues a particular member of staff may have. If there is a clear understanding of the difficulties, they can be fully supported in the correct way.
Steps to create a healthier working environment:
In recent years there has been a growing recognition of the importance of wellbeing in the workplace and employers are now beginning to understand, that with the rise of different work styles, such as hybrid, office-based and remote working, it is essential that they implement a variety of wellbeing strategies to support their employees effectively.
According to a report by Deloitte, wellbeing programmes in the workplace can have a positive impact on employee engagement, productivity and overall business performance. The report found that companies with highly effective wellness programmes were more likely to have lower healthcare costs, lower absenteeism rates, higher levels of communication and a more productive workforce.
One of the most important things employers can do to support wellbeing is to offer flexible work arrangements that accommodate the different workstyles and needs of the employees. This can include offering hybrid work options that allow employees to work from home or in the office as needed, as well as providing support for remote workers who may need additional resources to feel connected and supported.
Another important strategy is to prioritise mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. This can involve offering employee assistance programmes, mental health resources and support and creating a culture that values open and honest communication about mental health issues.
One company that has done just that is Google. The company offers a wide range of wellness initiatives including free healthy meals, on site gyms, fitness classes and mindfulness programmes. Google also encourages employees to take regular breaks and offers full support for mental health and wellbeing.
Another example is Dropbox who offer a variety of flexible working options, including remote working and flexible hours. They also provide a range of wellbeing programmes including meditation, yoga classes, on site massages and mental health resources.
Little strides forward every day
For the smaller business who have less resources available, there are several actionable steps they can also take to offer wellbeing strategies for their staff. One very simple strategy is to encourage regular breaks and promote physical activity during the working day. This can involve offering walking meetings, providing standing desks or ergonomic chairs and encouraging staff to take regular leg stretch breaks if they have a job that involves a lot of sitting around.
Another strategy is to ensure they have a full mental health support service in place and staff are able to access these resources at all times. This can include offering employee assistance programmes, providing access to mental health professionals and creating a culture that supports open communication throughout the workforce. Encouraging employees to communicate openly and honestly about their mental health and creating a fully supportive environment where staff feel comfortable talking about their struggles can have a major positive impact on the morale of the workforce, especially if they are encouraged to support each other.
Specific training can also be implemented using workshops and webinars to teach employees how to manage stress, promote mental wellness and develop resilience. Full access to mental health professionals should be implemented as a matter of course.
Fostering a Positive Workplace Culture and creating a more positive workplace is also essential for employees. All businesses, large or small can adopt this culture by recognising employee achievements, providing opportunities for growth and development and encouraging teamwork and collaboration.
If businesses can adopt some of these strategies and cultures and build a rapport with their staff through coaching, working flexibility and wellness programmes for each and every one of their staff members, the workplace really can be transformed to create a more productive workforce and staff retention maintained to a much higher level.
Andrea Marsh is a Mindset and Development Coach for Deeper Connections, which offers transformational direction to empower people to find their true happiness and transform their lives. Having started her career in the acting industry in 1980s within theatre and TV, Andrea has built up a portfolio of experience across a diverse range of sectors including roles as a PA at a major international fibre optics corporation, event management, equine massage, hairdressing and beauty therapy.