According to the Mental Health Foundation, statistics show that roughly 1 in 7 people say they experience mental health problems in the workplace.
And according to a study by MIND, up to 60% of people say they’d feel more motivated – and more likely to recommend their organisation – if that organisation promoted their employees’ wellbeing.
This isn’t a unique viewpoint held by staff. Unless we are supported in the workplace as well as at home, we’re not going to be at our best or performing our jobs to the best of our ability. Post pandemic, with the increase of hybrid / remote working, there are extra challenges that many of us didn’t anticipate. A different kind of stress.
So, what can organisations do to prioritise and support their employees’ health and wellbeing at work? What measures can they take to ensure staff are being looked after, their needs met. What can workers do to help themselves?
What can business leaders do to show their workforce they are leading by example, supporting their staff to do the same?
Starting from the top – strategies for leading by example
Colleagues take cues from how leaders behave. Creating a healthy, inclusive work environment promoting physical and emotional wellbeing starts at the top. As a business leader, how you manage your staff wellbeing – with simple actions such as encouraging people to go out for a walk at lunchtimes or take regular breaks – will set the tone for your organisation.
How do you foster a workplace culture that prioritises wellbeing and encourages your employees to thrive and not just survive?
Here are some thoughts and tips about how you could adopt some strategies yourself, as the CEO of a business caring for its staff and wanting to do more:
Encourage and Prioritise self-care and work-life balance
- Be a leader who demonstrates the importance of work-life balance by setting boundaries and managing your own time effectively. If you’re going to lead by example, show people how it’s done:
– work sensible hours
– take full lunch breaks
– take time out after busy periods
– don’t work at the weekends
– take your full annual leave entitlement
- Encourage employees to take breaks and make time for self-care, hobbies, friends and family instead of working all the hours.
- Avoid sending work-related e-mails or messages to staff members outside of office hours. There’s nothing more stress inducing – and infuriating – than receiving work related messages during home and family time, unless previously agreed between you and key staff members.
- Allow staff the opportunity to work flexibly for work-home life balance. This allows staff to work the hours suiting them best, reducing sickness, increasing productivity, and helping staff stay focussed and enthusiastic about their jobs.
Create a supportive and open work environment for everyone
- Foster open communication and encourage employees to share thoughts, concerns, and ideas.
- Provide regular opportunities for feedback and actively listen to employees’ needs – can you organise regular staff surveys, Friday afternoon drinks or focus groups and discussions?
- Show empathy and understanding when employees face personal or professional challenges. Is there a support system in place for people going through tough and challenging times?
What does EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) mean in the workplace?
It’s a work-based programme offering free, confidential (short term) counselling referrals for employees who are going through work and/or workplace challenges. There are various respected organisations that set up and manage these programmes for organisations and their people.
Create and encourage a culture of openness
- Speak with your team members regularly. Check in on them and encourage open discussions about how they’re feeling, and how colleagues’ mental health may be.
- Promote open conversations about mental health to instil positive attitudes and behaviours.
- Encourage two-way conversations. Poor communication is a major cause of stress if people feel overloaded with information they can’t process, excluded from key information and conversations or unable to express their views upwards.
Create innovative communication networks at work
- Are there staff forums with inclusion and diversity networks in-house?
- Do you have monthly or quarterly performance review meetings in place where people can have open and positive discussions about how things are going at work?
- What about planning away days for teams? Or events that encourage talking about innovations and new ideas?
- How can you bring together different departments of the workforce so they get an insight to what different parts of the business do?
- How can internal communication channels be utilised more effectively – including feeding back board level decisions to all members of staff?
Encourage physical health and activity
- Be a role model by incorporating exercise and healthy habits into your daily routine. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re down the gym five days a week – but that you’re taking the importance of exercise seriously!
- Organise team-building activities involving physical movement, such as walking meetings or group fitness challenges
- Offer incentives or wellness benefits, like gym memberships, to support employees in staying active
- Perhaps you can even run a wellness workshop talking about the importance of good diet, sleep and exercise for a happy and healthy personal and work life – and then another one talking about mental health and how people can take better care of themselves.
Prioritise mental health and emotional wellbeing
- Share your own experiences and strategies for coping with stress, anxiety, or other emotional challenges
- Provide mental health resources and training for employees, such as workshops or access to in house counselling services (such as an Employee Assistance Programme for people – referred to previously)
- Implement policies supporting mental health, such as flexible working arrangements or mental health days
Recognise and reward hard work and achievements
- Regularly acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of your team members, both individually and collectively
- Offer incentives, bonuses, or other rewards to recognise exceptional performance
- Encourage a culture of gratitude and appreciation within the workplace amongst all your staff
Promote continuous learning and personal development
- Invest in your own professional growth by attending conferences, workshops, or pursuing further education
- Encourage employees to seek out learning opportunities and support their growth through training programs or study
- Foster a culture of innovation and curiosity by valuing new ideas and creative problem-solving
Be transparent, approachable, accountable and encouraging
- Be open about your decisions and the reasoning behind them, helping employees understand the bigger picture. Talk about strategies and vision, new ways of working by getting staff involved.
- Admit your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions, demonstrating humility and the willingness to learn
- Establish clear expectations and goals for both yourself and your employees, promoting a sense of shared purpose and direction
Set up peer support, mentoring and buddy systems
- Not everyone wants to talk to their manager, so a buddy system offers a great way to maximise the range of skills and experience within your organisation.
- Mentoring and buddy schemes help new staff to understand your organisation better and quicker while helping staff to gain confidence and develop new skills.
Leading by example to promote wellbeing and create a thriving work environment is inspiring employees to adopt healthy habits, and to prioritise self-care themselves.
By showing employees you can be a leader who listens and learns themselves, and that you’re eager to take responsibility for the wellbeing of your workforce, will encourage your staff to do the same. It’s not just about telling people to get on a bicycle or walk 10 thousand steps a day or to read some self-help leaflets scattered about in reception. It’s about showing people how, by taking small, simple steps, we can take collective responsibility and be accountable for our own physical and emotional wellbeing.
Take a look at the Gov.uk website link here to see how both and physical and emotional wellbeing are essential factors to be taken into account within the workplace and how a happy and healthy workplace has a positive impact in the cycle of life: https://bit.ly/2CT0otG
If you’d like to find out more about how we may be able to help you join the debate and how you can be much more proactive when it comes to matters of physical and mental wellbeing, come and visit us at Proactive Appointments – IT Recruitment in the UK & Europe – or contact us at Contact Proactive IT Appointments to learn more.
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