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Our mental health influences everything from how we feel, think, and behave so it’s no wonder that poor mental wellbeing has a negative impact on everything else. Many of us will spend a large proportion of our lives at work (80,000 hours on average!) so it’s unsurprising that wellbeing in the workplace has become an increasingly prevalent topic when it comes to mental health. More employers are recognising that they have a responsibility to help individuals manage their wellbeing.
We recently published our Wellbeing Report for 2022 to help employers shape their mental wellbeing practices and found the most common changes both employee and employers wanted to see implemented in their organisation to support staff wellbeing.
Formal structure/ Mental health days
One way to support employees would be to put a structure in place to provide additional time off, which employees can use this to mentally recharge. Rest is vital for not only better mental health, but increased concentration, memory, and mood.
We found 46% of employers thought the best way to support employee wellbeing was to implement a formal structure to provide time off for mental wellbeing needs. One way organisations are already implementing this is through ‘rest weeks’, by giving their employees a paid week off to improve morale and support the wellness of their staff.
Open speech from senior leaders
Talking about mental health can feel uncomfortable, however the less people talk about mental health at work, the more the stigma around it grows. It’s important to break this cycle, managers have a responsibility to create an open and safe environment for staff. Senior leaders can set the precedent by openly talking about personal mental health issues and inviting others to talk about it too. We that found 58% of employees and 44% of employers would like to see senior leaders discussing mental health to promote wellbeing.
Mental health awareness training
When someone is battling issues with their mental health, they can appear to look healthy while concealing their struggles. Mental health awareness training or workshops teaches employees and managers about common mental health conditions and how to reduce the stigma around it. Training can help staff spot warning signs for these disorders. Additionally, businesses can provide first aid training for mental health so that there are responders in the organisation who know how to deal with trauma during and after the event of a crisis. We found again, both employees (61%) and employers (36%) believed training would have a positive impact within the organisation.
Time off for mental health reasons
Just like taking a time off when you aren’t physically feeling well, we saw that employees wanted to have the option to take time off when they were mentally struggling too. 70% of employees wanted to see their employers be supportive of them time off for mental health reasons. An employee may appear physically well enough to work, but they know that their mental health is suffering and are at risk of becoming ill unless they take some time out. As attitudes are changing, employees wanted to see change in their organisation by understanding and supporting mental health sick days rather than assuming employees are trying to avoid responsibilities.
Mental wellbeing support
Businesses can offer official mental wellbeing and support programmes for staff. For example, creating a procedure that encourages employees to have regular one-on-one meetings with their line manager or a ‘staff buddy’ to talk about any problems they might be experiencing. Another option would be to appoint ‘mental health champions’ as ambassadors who staff can talk to when they are struggling.
It’s important to create a culture at work whereby staff feel like they can discuss mental health and wellbeing openly. This starts by taking a more proactive approach to making changes to the work culture to foster an open and transparent environment. A company culture with safe and open communication is essential to employee engagement and wellbeing. In our survey 63% of employees said they were not comfortable talk about mental health and wellbeing, so employers need to create an environment where speaking about issues is encouraged.
Overall, creating a transparent and open culture where mental wellbeing is given the same level of attention as physical wellbeing was important to every single employee that took part in our survey. There is still a lot to do when it comes to mental health and wellbeing for staff but understanding what you can change to see the biggest impact is a great starting point.
Employee wellbeing should be a priority to every business. As global talent experts, we want to help firms build teams where people can thrive.
You can download our full 2022 Wellbeing Report here.