Wellbeing in the workplace

Wellbeing in the workplace is fast becoming just as important, if not more so, than salary or career progression. One issue at the forefront of this is mental health in the workplace. We are all aware of the importance of wellbeing, but could we be doing more?


Surveys over recent years have shown the true impact of poor mental health:

  • 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace (14.7%
  • Evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.
  • Deloitte says poor mental health in the workplace is equivalent to almost 2% of UK GDP (in 2016).
  • 89% of workers with mental health problems report an impact on their working life.
  • Just 13% of employees would be comfortable talking about mental illness at work.
  • Last year, poor employee mental health cost UK employers £42bn.
  • The return on investment of workplace mental health interventions is overwhelmingly positive, with an average ROI of 4:1.

Last month our Thursday Brunch event was on ‘Mental health strategies for a crazy world!’ looking at the stats above and speaking to our guests about what we can do to help our own mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

We found that: 

  • Kindness and wellbeing have a significant impact on culture and the engagement of colleagues.
  • Our brain is our most powerful tool, yet we are not taught how we can manage it to get the best out of it. This needs to change. 
  • The fear of failure and constantly striving for perfection are massive contributors to poor mental health – but is in our control if we are aware of it.

So what can an employer do to support an employee with mental health issues?

Discuss
Ensure that you create an environment that is open, that encourages staff to discuss their challenges and problems. Have a culture of openness that allows you to go beyond a person’s workload, instead, it delves deeper into their role responsibilities and the opportunities that they would like to see appear. We know that 13% of employers would feel comfortable talking about their mental health and that percentage needs to be much higher!

Educate
Know what to do if a mental health problem arises within your workplace, such as where to direct the employees if they require specialist help. Also, educate yourself and staff on various mental health problems, so you can see the trigger. Always remember to be sensitive.

Be clear
The groundwork can be set from the minute a new recruit starts, just by letting them know that if any problem arises, big or small, that they can discuss it. It doesn’t take much to make an employee feel supported or to create a culture of openness, especially if it means it decreases the chances of mental health problems in the workplace. You could create a wellbeing policy with relevant support links and contact details, which is always available to employees. 

We have recently become a ‘Mindful Employer’ – we recognise that in the UK, people experiencing mental ill-health continue to report stigma and discrimination at work. Having signed the ‘Charter for Employers Positive about Mental Health’, we are committed to creating a supportive and open culture, where colleagues feel able to talk about mental health confidently, and aspire to appropriately support the mental wellbeing of all staff.


As an employer, we have made an on-going commitment to:

  • Provide non-judgemental and proactive support to staff experiencing mental ill-health.
  • Not make assumptions about a person with a mental health condition and their ability to work.
  • Be positive and enabling all employees and job applicants with a mental health condition.
  • Support line managers in managing mental health in the workplace.
  • Ensure we are fair in the recruitment of new staff in accordance with the Equality Act (2010).
  • Make it clear that people who have experienced mental ill-health will not be discriminated against, and that disclosure of a mental health problem will enable both the employee and employer to assess and provide the right level of support or adjustment.

 It’s so important to make sure you have a balance between your work and home life – we’re big advocates of it here.

If you’re struggling with your mental health at work or in general – mental health charity MIND can offer lots of help and support. Here are tips for staying well at work. 


If you would like to find out more about re:find and how we can support you and your business then please get in touch.

James Cumming is our MD, Interim and Transformation Search specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Promoting wellbeing in the workplace

Workplace Wellbeing
Workplace Wellbeing

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 – workplace 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…

Financial

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.

 

Flexibility

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.

Engagement

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.

If you need some practical tips to help you, here are 6 tips for a better work-life balance.

Carl Hinett is our Director & Executive Search Specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch carl@refind.co.uk.

Want to hear more about our senior HR professionals golf society? Sign up here.