Mental wellbeing is the level of psychological health that you are currently experiencing. It is not static and you can experience poor and good mental wellbeing, with different things that happen to or around you negatively or positively influencing your mental wellbeing.
For example, receiving a gift might make you happy and improve your mental wellbeing, whereas being shouted at down the phone might negatively affect your mental wellbeing.
Another factor in mental wellbeing is mental health. Having poor mental wellbeing can often lead to developing mental health conditions, such as developing depression or anxiety from prolonged stress.
A person’s mental health can decline for any number of reasons, and sometimes it can decline for no reason at all, or decline as a result of something outside of the person’s control. For those with conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder, the amount of available sunlight can be a significant factor in their mental health and how they feel, and there is no way that the individual can increase the amount of daylight in winter.
How can a positive mental wellbeing culture improve your business?
Developing your organisation to be a positive place to work, and to look after the mental wellbeing of those it employs can be very beneficial.
Happy employees are typically more productive and are often better at communication, which can reduce internal social conflict and improve customer service.
Less social conflict at work can also mean that employees are able to work better as a team, and positive social relationships at work can make the workplace an enjoyable place to be, give employees a sense of collective/community, and help add to creating a positive wellbeing culture.
A positive workplace can be self-improving, the happier and more positive people feel at work, the more that the environment, relationships, performance and workplace culture improve as a whole.
So, what do you need to do to improve wellbeing in your workplace?
Identify what within your organisation may cause stress
Everyone experiences stress differently, and some tasks within your organisation may be stress-free for one person and stressful for another. If you want to know what causes stress within your organisation, the best thing that you can do is ask. This can be done in group sessions to encourage openness, by asking individuals directly to allow for confidentiality, and through anonymous surveying to allow for anonymity.
Openness – A group session can help encourage discussion about issues that are causing stress, such as common processes or tasks, and can encourage people to be more honest about their experiences. If a team are all struggling with the same deadlines, then you may need to consider what can be done to reduce stress, such as providing more resources or staff to the team.
Confidentiality – There are some things at work or at home that cause a great deal of stress that you don’t want to everyone to know about. Sometimes working with people on an individual level can be the most effective strategy. This can mean an employer talking to their manager, HR, wellbeing champion, or an external service such as an Employee Assistance Programme. Information provided under an assumption of confidentiality should be kept private. If you are unsure as to whether to talk about something mentioned in a 1-to-1 chat, don’t, unless you’re given permission by the person that disclosed the information.
Anonymity – anonymity allows people to speak freely without fear of repercussion or consequence. This can be good for getting an honest view as to what may be causing stress within your organisation (such as if a line manager is the cause of stress), but can also provide a platform for mis-information, or malicious use.
Once you have identified what is causing stress, you will need to think of a way to address the issue.
An example of something that we have found beneficial to implement is below.
Is there any room for flexibility with attending healthcare appointments?
One thing that all UK organisations should heavily consider is the possibility for flexibility for attending healthcare appointments, including visits to the GP and dental care. Many healthcare services are only available during work hours, so making it easier for employees to attend healthcare appointments and access healthcare services can increase the chances of early detection for health conditions. Early detection of health conditions helps you to get treatment or onto treatment waiting lists, which often results in better outcomes and better quality of life.
A good example of this is that many cancers are detectable through free screening services and have a better survival rate if treated early on. Many employees will be living with conditions that are undiagnosed, untreated or self-managed, because they either have not got the time to attend a GP appointment, or perceive that they haven’t got the time. These conditions can impact mental health, mental wellbeing and negatively impact productivity at work.
Though often lower risk, the same goes for dental appointments.
To offer flexibility, you could provide employees with the option to attend appointments then make up the time. This could be by starting early, finishing late, or working for an extra 10 minutes over multiple days.
Using this method, employees still work for the same amount of time, but they are also more likely to attend healthcare appointments. This avoids employees using their agreed annual leave on healthcare appointments which can be stressful and are not a good use of annual leave. Annual leave is typically best spent on holidays, or taking time off to destress, as this allows employees to refresh their mental wellbeing before undertaking more work.