Workplace wellbeing is an important topic for every company to consider, and one that calls for continual improvement. Recent statistics paint a troubling picture of the current state of affairs; According to the Department for Work and Pensions, more than 20,000 people in the UK are absent from work every month, as a result of poor mental health.

At the end of April, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke about those out of work due to poor mental health, stating that people in this situation should receive the care they need, but should not be told that they are unable to work. Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer seeks to “overhaul” the nation’s approach to mental health if he wins the election.

Every company, regardless of political leanings, should prioritise the promotion and support of positive mental health in the workplace. The power to effect positive change lies with HR teams, managers, and company leaders. A positive culture is the foundation of happy employees.

Below are a number of strategies and considerations businesses should take when approaching mental workplace wellbeing in the workplace.

Strategies for Enhancing Workplace Wellbeing

Enhanced Employee Access to Mental Health Resources

Given the significant rise of 275,000 cases of work-related stress or anxiety since the pandemic, it’s vital for employers to acknowledge and understand the pressures placed on their employees and provide them with suitable and accessible mental health resources and support systems. Services like counselling and stress management classes might be part of this effort, as could collaborations with mental health experts.

Performance Statistics

Employee performance data can be very useful as a way to identify staff members who may be experiencing a downturn in their mental health. If your company tracks performance, time management and quality of work, it’s important to view these as more than a way of “keeping tabs” on your staff (especially important for remote businesses). A decline in any of these areas could highlight someone in need of support, rather than disciplinary action.

This is a tricky landscape to navigate, however, and one that should be approached with caution; a report from the American Psychological Association revealed that a little over half of workers who are monitored by their employer typically feel tense or stressed out at work as a result of being monitored. Make sure your staff understand that performance monitoring is meant to be a constructive tool, not a type of micromanagement driven by mistrust, by communicating your aims to them.

Policy Reforms for Mental Health

Businesses might also take a page out of the political rhetoric of late and revamp their internal procedures in order to better assist their employees. In order to better address mental health issues, this involves making revisions to sick leave rules and benefits. “Duvet days” have become commonplace in many companies, allowing workers to take a sick day without penalty. These days are created for those times when a person is physically capable of working but does not feel emotionally or psychologically prepared for the day.

Training for Better Mental Health Management

Managers – and their ability to have fair and positive interactions with staff – can be a make-or-break when it comes to assisting those struggling with their mental health.  In addition to learning to recognise the signs of mental distress, senior staff should work on creating a caring strategy for dealing with it. The increasing incidence of work absences caused by mental health issues highlights the need to grasp the delicate balance between employment and mental health demands.

Useful resources for training

Mental health charity Mind offers a variety of training options tailored to individual needs, including in-person and virtual training sessions. Their courses go over things like raising awareness about mental health, creating a work environment that supports mental health, and how to be there for someone who is struggling with mental health.

Mental Health UK’s Workplace Mental Health Program is designed to assist organisations create a psychologically safe workplace. Depending on the specific requirements of each company, it offers individualised training and mental health champion programs.

Bespoke Mental Health’s training features online workshops and webinars in evidence-based psychological therapies, offered both live or on demand.

Building a Supportive Culture

Whether you’re aware of it or not, there is an ongoing debate throughout the corners of the internet over whether employees should disclose their mental health to their employers. While many argue that it can only be a good thing, others are still concerned about how their employer will see them, and a potential shift in perceptions of their ability to perform their duties.

Clearly, a visibly honest and openly supportive workplace culture is essential in today’s day and age. Initiatives such as regular mental health awareness sessions, encouraging open conversations about mental health, and destigmatising mental health issues within the workplace are essential. Overall, employees should feel confident in speaking up and seeking help, without fear of judgement or negative repercussions.

Looking Ahead, There’s Work To Be Done

The evidence is clear: the mental health crisis is not only a public health concern but a workplace crisis that affects productivity and employee satisfaction. As business leaders and managers, there’s an obligation to adopt and advocate for mental health practices that not only support employees in managing their mental health, but also contribute to a more dynamic, engaged, and productive workplace.

By basing policies on the latest data and trends, we can ensure that our workplaces become sanctuaries of wellbeing that actively contribute to the overall mental health of our employees. This proactive attitude is not a benefit, but a necessary step for creating thriving workplace wellbeing in today’s challenging times.

Luke Fisher
Luke Fisher
CEO at Mo | + posts

Mo offers an award-winning reward and recognition platform that makes it easy for managers to recognise, engage and connect with their teams. Their tools equip managers with weekly suggestions to energise and connect with their people, help teams build habits of recognition into their day-to-day rhythms and go beyond simple rewards as a way to motivate your people. Used in 45 countries and available in 9 languages, Mo is proud to be helping some of the world's best-known brands create amazing places to work.