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Putting your staff’s mental health first


For many companies, the traditional 9-5 is dead and buried. With commitments across the globe and continual access to new technologies, we’re now working in more diverse ways than ever before. But with emails available 24 hours a day and increased pressure on organisations in a competitive market, we’re in danger of becoming overworked.

 

Recent figures from CIPD show the strain is already showing, with one in five people admitting they are dissatisfied with their job and more than a third saying there was ‘too much to do’. A further 35% said that work was negatively impacting their mental health, suggesting there’s room for improvement at many organisations. Over the past decade, numerous studies have measured the impact of happiness in the workplace. Figures show that happy employees are up to 20% more productive and more likely to stay with their organisations. This is great news for employers, as they’ll be able to build a stronger team full of people who are fulfilled in their roles.

 

But with so many different factors at play, what can you do to keep your employees as happy and healthy as possible in the workplace?

 

Raising awareness

Across the world, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, and the problem is showing no signs of slowing down. Companies can’t cure their staff’s mental health problems, but they can offer outlets for them to be open and honest. Mentorship schemes give new employees the chance to get some additional support during the settling in process, which some people can find one of the most challenging times. In addition to offering day to day support and opportunities to raise grievances and issues for work related matters, organisations could also consider offering access to an in-house counsellor for more personal matters.

 

Work life balance

Work related stress costs Britain 10.4 million working days a year, while one in six of us will experience a mental health issue each week. It’s really important for managers to lead by example when it comes to developing a healthy work/life balance and encourage employees to take time off when they need it. As well as offering generous holiday allowances, companies should consider bonus mental health or duvet days that employees can take if they’re feeling stressed or anxious. It’s also a good idea to offer flexible and remote working options, particularly for those who need to fit their work commitments around family life.

 

Invest in your team

Friction in a team can splinter groups, promote cliques and cause stress and arguments in the workplace. Regular teambuilding exercises or occasional team away days can support your employees in working better together, as well as helping them to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Studies show that teambuilding can increase communication and improve relationships, which has a huge impact on happiness and mental health. From games and activities which stimulate the brain through to regular celebrations and work drinks, there’s plenty of ways to keep your team engaged.

 

Keeping well at work

A healthy lifestyle is heavily linked to happiness, with new evidence suggesting there is even a link between your gut health and depression. You can help your team to stay healthy by encouraging regular breaks for water and lunch, providing fresh fruit and salad bars and offering them the chance to learn about nutrition and wellbeing. Access to gym memberships and chill out rooms have been successful for many organisations, while others may opt for group sporting activities or participation in challenges like Tough Mudder. Ask your employees for their opinions to determine what might be most appropriate for your work place.

 

Get outdoors

There’s no doubt that getting outdoors is good for the mind and body, but it can be difficult to escape a busy office.  Natural light and nature has been linked to lower blood pressure, better mental health and according to one study,  a 15% decrease in stress hormones. Companies can encourage their employees to go outside during the summer months by hosting teambuilding and brainstorming activities, as well as fun days and festivals. Though it’s more difficult to get out in the dreary mid-winter, there’s no reason why you can’t advocate winter sports like hockey or netball, or even morning jogs and walks around local parks.

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