Promoting positive mental health in the workplace

Organisations in the UK and around the world are currently making huge strides in workplace wellbeing and, in particular, there is a real drive to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace. This comes at a cost but is rapidly becoming an essential part of improving working relationships and in turn improving productivity and overall employee satisfaction.

Adrian Firth
Employee Benefits Consultant
10 October 2022
3 minutes

In a recent survey in conjunction with HR Grapevine*, 7 out of 10 UK adults are feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope. However, we should see this in perspective, as it may well be that all UK employees struggle to cope with stress and anxiety at various stages of their lives as no one has a stress-free life.

The key is to recognise these times in our employees’ journeys and give them the tools and support mechanisms to identify the problem. To take time out and seek some resolutions, support them in the workplace and not add to the problems or compound the background issues.

Some simple tips for employees:

  • acceptance – learn to accept your concerns and worries – in the current situation these are NORMAL and to be expected
  • focus – on what you can control in your life, not what is going on outside your influence
  • be aware – of the news and information you are receiving from media/social media, this may or may not be useful to your mental wellbeing
  • look after your wellbeing
    • sleep well, make sure you get good quality rest
    • stay as active as possible and get outside
    • try to eat well, good nutrition will help, be conscious of eating junk food and eating to counter stress and anxiety
  • if working from home or hybrid working, follow a healthy routine
  • manage hours, balance work and leisure
  • take regular breaks
  • establish a work ‘station’ at home and a set of rules for the people you live with – establish working ‘signals’ so you are not disturbed
  • try to ensure that your work is as comfortable as possible to avoid musculoskeletal issues
  • ask for help if you need it!!

Some simple tips for managers:

  • be empathetic
  • encourage positive communications and a positive ‘can do’ mindset, we are all in this together!
  • build trust, focusing on goals and not activity
  • avoid micromanagement
  • encourage physical wellbeing – this will help mental wellbeing
  • keep communications following within the team
    • regular check-ins with the team
    • use video to help with the lack of face-to-face contact
    • ensure everyone gets relevant information – set goals and priorities
    • overcommunicate if needs be, to help everyone feel involved and buy-in to the team goals

It is important not to overlook the significance of other areas of wellbeing. Financial wellbeing starts with making sure we get the basics right: budgeting, emergency funds, stress reduction. While you may not have an emergency fund, the current circumstances should have brought home to many people the need to plan ahead and have a strategy in place should the worst happen. It is not too late to take control if you have not already!

Getting a budget in place is essential:

  • make a simple plan for money in and money out
  • you can save money on your socialising budget, so now is a good time to use it towards bills or savings
  • if you do not have enough to make ends meet, seek help! Speak to your lender/utility provider/landlord/credit card company etc. They all have plans in place to help.

Joseph Chamberlain is quoted as saying in a speech in 1898, “I think that you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times. I never remember myself at a time in which our history was so full, in which day by day brought us new objects of interest, and, let me say also, new objects for anxiety.” He could have been talking about 2022!

We are living in interesting times – the situation changes daily and it is difficult to keep on top of everything. However, it is at times like this we should remember we are all in this together. Having a wellbeing strategy in place along with helping and showing compassion will go a long way to improving productivity and employee satisfaction.

*Mental health and the employee experience: The business case | HR Grapevine

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