Championing mental wellbeing in the workplace
According to the UN, nearly one billion people worldwide are suffering from some form of mental disorder. Climate change, war, oppression, a global pandemic and a cost of living crisis are taking a brutal toll on our mental health.
Stress, anxiety and depression are impacting our wellbeing, with mental ill-health the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, costing our economy billions each year.
A new study by Deloitte on mental health in the workplace, found 28% of employees have either left their jobs in 2021 or are planning to leave in 2022 – with 61% citing poor mental health as the reason for leaving.
Despite the mounting prevalence of mental health issues (with one in four people being affected at some point in their lives) there is still a huge reticence to speaking out – especially in the workplace.
There is a real responsibility on the shoulders of management to end this stigma and create a workplace culture that is inclusive, supportive and empathetic towards mental wellbeing.
Whilst there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to navigating and supporting mental health issues, developing open communication channels and providing opportunities for employees to speak openly and honestly about any challenges or pressures they are experiencing is essential.
When it comes to promoting better mental health in the workplace, the single biggest influencer in the success of a company’s mental wellbeing programme, is the level of engagement from the CEO and other top executives.
“When senior leaders speak fearlessly about their own mental health, they make everyone else feel safe to raise their hand and ask for help when they need it,” says April Doty, Community Manager at Minds@Work.
Rob Stephenson, CEO of mental health app Formscore agrees: “When a leader shares their stories of mental ill health or passion for wellbeing, it creates a culture of permission that cascades through the rest of the organisation.”
Internal communications are best placed to encourage positive behaviours and drive activities that support mental health and wellbeing.
Not only do they have a positive impact on employee motivation, they also result in a more productive workforce, a healthier, more inclusive work culture – and a better work-life balance which in turn, boosts morale and engagement.
The pandemic redefined many of the certainties we once held about what is normal and what is needed in the workplace. Navigating our new landscape requires supporting and empowering employees to adjust to the changing policies and attitudes about work.
“Increasing time off or the odd work function is unlikely to improve the overall mental wellbeing within the workplace, we have to be accepting of an individual’s challenges and communicate in a manner where they feel recognised, only then will you have the basis to make constructive change.” says Tom Leese, Bretom.
Pioneering companies who understand their people are their greatest asset, know the importance of enabling and empowering their employees to find the right combination of skills, resources and resilience to support their mental wellbeing.
Whether it’s through offering flexible working conditions, four-day-working weeks, walking meetings, mandatory lunch breaks, free gym membership, bring your dog to work days – or being paid to have a good night’s sleep – businesses that acknowledge and support their employees’ mental wellbeing are the trailblazers for others to follow.
Ultimately though, it all starts with a question: How are you doing?