As the UK marked the one-year anniversary of lockdown last week, there was a collective reflection on the monumental changes and sacrifices we have all had to make during this incredibly challenging period.
Only time will tell whether changes in working practices – home working, conducting virtual meetings, adjusted shift patterns to aid social distancing – become long-term for businesses.
However, what is already clear is the importance of investing in people’s health and the positive difference it can make to individuals and society as a whole.
Many organisations implement additional perks as part of their employment offering; from weekly fruit bowls and dress-down Fridays to a cycle to work scheme.
Yet the changing nature in the way we all work, along with a collective understanding of the importance of our overall health, means people are increasingly driven to work for businesses for whom the wellbeing of its workers is a key priority.
People are more likely to engage with their employer and feel motivated in their role if they feel valued on a human level.
There are campaigns by various charities, including Mental Health First Aid England’s ‘My Whole Self’ campaign, which aim to promote the importance of people being able to be themselves and create meaningful, human connections with their colleagues.
Encouraging your workers to talk to each other on a team and company-wide basis can help build relationships and encourage people to share their personal and professional interests. This can increase their self-confidence, happiness and overall job satisfaction.
It is also a good idea to check in regularly with colleagues and follow the ‘Ask twice’ technique; ask a colleague how they are, as more often than not you will be met with “I’m fine.” Asking the same question again can help to provoke meaningful conversations about how someone is truly feeling at that time.
Mental health training
If you are speaking with a colleague who informs you they are struggling with their mental health, it is so important to know how to respond appropriately and effectively in order to provide them with the best support.
Our mental health courses will provide tools to spot the signs of mental ill health and give people greater confidence in how to address concerns raised by colleagues.
Mental health training can also help managers to improve awareness of the effects their authority and management styles can have on their team, as well as increasing their tolerance and understanding of emotionally distressed colleagues. It can also play a vital part in addressing the stigma associated with mental ill health.
Health and economy coincide
The positive impact of making workplace wellbeing a priority for businesses should not be underestimated on a human and economic level.
Mental health problems at work cost the UK economy over £34 billion every year, a figure which is expected to increase significantly due to coronavirus. The largest part of the cost is presenteeism: those who are working but are unwell, significantly reducing their ability to do their job effectively and creating potential physical health problems in the long term.
Employers that support their workforce and invest in their physical and mental wellbeing will benefit from a happier, healthier and more loyal team, which can only further improve the wealth of their business and the prosperity of the UK economy.
Sources: Centre for Mental Health (2021); Health and Safety Executive (2021); Health and Wellbeing at Work Week (2020); People Management (2021)