We recently held our third run of The Forum, discussing the importance of promoting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. For those of you who don’t know, The Forum is an exclusive quarterly event for HR Directors to ask, share, explore and learn.
This quarter, we were talking about mental health and wellbeing in the workplace and it sparked some very interesting conversation, so I thought I would give my opinion on a few things!
First, a few stats:
- 83% of people go to work when they are unwell
- 59% of people who are off work on long-term sickness are off due to mental health problems
I think one thing is very clear – work wellbeing is a hot topic right now! Whilst I think organisations have come on leaps and bounds in terms of supporting wellbeing in general, I also think some organisations can turn it into a gimmick or photo opportunity – a bit like when everyone slaps the rainbow on the corporate logo for pride month…
Money or money-worries can be the root of a lot of stress and mental health issues. Some organisations have been running some great initiatives to combat this.
PKF Cooper Parry have allowed people to choose when during the month they get paid. The NHS has been offering same-day pay for its flexible employees. I think these approaches are innovative. It provides the flexibility that people need and empowers people to manage their finances and feel in control.
One thing I’m not a huge fan of is these new apps that allow you to access some of your next month’s salary early. I know they are marketed as being used for emergencies and a lot of them have limits on how much you can access, but I do feel that for some people (me included!) it would encourage you to frequently spend outside your means and always be living in a deficit, meaning you would be accessing money early every single month.
Flexible working, agile working, unlimited holidays…does it work? Do people really use it?
I am very lucky to work for an employer who offers flexible working. And when I say that I mean ACTUAL flexible working. What this means is that I can work from home, when I want, without needing a reason. On a Thursday I finish work at 4 pm to go and visit my nan who has Alzheimer’s and I don’t make the time back up. What I do, is deliver all the work I need to in the hours that I work.
Flexible working isn’t being allowed to finish at 4 pm on a Friday or starting an hour earlier/ skipping your lunch so you can leave early and it definitely isn’t being allowed to go for an appointment in the middle of the day as long as you make the time back.
The unlimited holidays I’m not 100% sold on, which is probably because It is now November and I still have 9.5 days holiday to take before Christmas. I’m not great at taking holiday. But I do see the purpose of it. Say you have a special occasion, honeymoon or the opportunity to go on an extended break, then it would be great to utilise.
There must also be engagement in workplace wellbeing and organisations need to empower and equip individuals to self-care.
There are other options to engagement surveys, for example, to get people to spend time thinking about themselves. People don’t just need to think about how they feel, but also what impacts those feelings, what are the root causes?
There are now apps that are a self-coaching platform and can be used with employees to enable them to assess their work happiness. These are an interesting alternative to employee engagement surveys and encourage people to think about the underlying motivations to their happiness – even as far as their work relationships, identifying which are high quality and which you could/would like to improve.
Anna Cleland’s app Workhappy is a great one to check out.
There is so much good happening in workplaces (and some crap here and there!) that I think we are making strides in workplace wellbeing, but there is still plenty more to be done.
It would be great to hear about the initiatives you love or hate, and what else you think needs to be done.
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