In recent years there has been renewed focus on workplace psychology and its impact on everything from workers’ productivity to mental health and well-being.
Work plays an influential role in our lives. With most of your lifetime spent at work, it is important to feel happy, safe and supported in this environment.
A toxic work environment can have a huge effect on your health, both mental and physical. Stress from work can interfere with sleep, cause insomnia or even more serious health concerns from obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Excess pressures at work can also cause significant mental health issues. Psychological injury is a mental health disorder that is significantly influenced by the workplace.
As individuals, we can all take steps to improve our own mental and psychical health inside and outside of the workplace. Self-care is a skill that need to be worked on and practiced regularly. However, as an employer, you have a responsibility and a duty of care to employees to make sure they are getting the support they need to be at their full potential.
Liz Walker, HR DIrector at Unum “Recognising the important role work has on mental health should encourage employers to view the mental health of their workforce as an asset. Working can provide a sense of identity, build self-esteem and provide an opportunity for healthy social interactions. Employers benefit greatly from engaged employees and the diversity of perspectives that a lived mental health condition brings.”
Cogs explore seven small changes that can be made in the workplace to ensure your business culture promotes employee well-being:
1. Proactive Management
A negative work culture can cause poor mental health of employees. Proactive management can help to alleviate issues before they arise. Using people-focused leadership will improve the overall work environment and reduce the risk of psychological issues developing in individuals. A manager should always motivate and show signs of support to employees, this promotes a positive work ethic and culture which filters throughout the company.
2. Review & Implement
It is good practice to review any existing employee well-being policies regularly and commit to constantly improving them.
Employee well-being and welfare should be treated the same as any other health and safety policy in your business. By conducting regular surveys on staff, you are able to build a better understanding of the well-being of individuals and how the business could be improved to support such aspects. Use findings from these surveys to implement new initiatives and tools.
3. Champions and Mentors
A strong leadership team is important to promote the well being of employees. However, on a day to day basis it is advisable to have designated team members who can be ‘well-being advocates’. This could be middle management, or a trusted employee who is responsible for supporting employees through any issues. Mentors or a buddy system can be excellent to provide employees with a simple network support if they find them self in a situation they are not comfortable with.
4. Delivering Praise
Ensuring your employee’s feel supported and respected is important for a positive work culture. Celebrating even the smallest wins is helps make individuals feel valued. This can be done on a one-to-one basis, with regular reviews praising good work or an external acknowledgement for a particular task.
5. Be Inclusive
Diversity can bring enormous benefits to an organisation. Diversity can include a range of ages, ethnicity, religions, disabilities and worldviews. But a diverse workplace is not necessarily inclusive. Inclusion needs to focus on individuals abilities and not limitations.
Differences should be celebrated.
By accepting differences, individuals start to flourish and the company will benefit from fresh ideas, new skillsets, engagement levels and also see an increase in overall productivity.
6. Fuel the Team
Companies know the importance of employee incentives and perks. Company nights out and beer trolleys are now very common but as an employer, you should ensure you are creating an inclusive culture. In a multi-cultural, multi-generational working landscape, not all your employee will appreciate the same perks. Surveying employees to find out how you can help to improve their work-life balance would be far more beneficial than standard incentive programmes. Fueling the team is vital, brainstorm a wide variety of ways you can motivate teams from a free morning croissant to cinema screenings.
7. Raise Awareness
The first step to a happy, healthy work culture is ensuring employees are aware of your commitment to well-being. Introducing mindfulness practices, emotional intelligence skill building, meditation sessions to encourage exercise and healthy lifestyle suggestions are all ways to raise awareness.
You could also send regular emails to staff discussing mental health and encourage workplace engagement and make sure every employee is aware of your mental health policies and guidelines.
It has never been more important to embrace mental health and employee well-being. As much as 60 per cent of employees say they’d feel more motivated and more likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work if their employer took action to support mental well-being. Businesses are improving, workplace design is evolving. ‘Agile’ and ‘flexible’ working opportunities are providing a more open work environment. But there is still plenty of room for improvement to understand and facilitate a healthier, happier workplace.