How to protect people's well-being in the workplace
4th August, 2017
Our work lives can be really rewarding for many reasons – a job we love can make us feel valued and respected, it can lead to new relationships and opportunities. But if employers aren’t careful, the workplace can also have a negative impact on our employees’ mental health and well-being. Being mindful of mental health and taking proactive steps to look after others can prevent more serious issues arising in future.
Research undertaken by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in 2016 showed there is some way to go before the majority of employers develop a robust but person-centred way of coping with mental ill-health in the workplace.
According to the CIPD, if people have good mental health, and feel supported during times of poor mental health, they will feel more motivated, engaged and productive.
The research shows the number of employees who say they have experienced mental health problems at work has increased from 26 per cent in 2011 to more than three in ten (31 per cent) in 2016.
The number of employees experiencing mental health problems at work is now 31% CLICK TO TWEET
It showed that the number of employees who said their organisation supports staff with mental health problems very or fairly well has only slightly improved since 2011. It also showed that people of all ages are susceptible to suffering bouts of mental ill health.
Employers can benefit from proactively looking for ways to protect people’s mental health and well-being, as well as their physical health, because it reduces absenteeism. Showing that you care about your employees will also attract a more committed and talented workforce because prospective employees are more likely to choose to work for a company which cares for people.
Promoting well-being doesn’t have to cost a great deal of money and a lot can be achieved if business leaders change the way they tackle this issue.
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Here are some of the simple ways you can promote good mental health and well-being in your workplace:
Make employees feel they belong
Building a meaningful sense of team spirit, having a shared sense of purpose and identity goes a long way towards promoting well-being amongst employees and leads in turn to higher levels of engagement.
As a leader we need to be mindful about the signals we send to people through the way we communicate and engage with people at all level, our attitude, body language and enthusiasm as all of these affect the mood and mind-set of our colleagues. As leaders, the way we act and present ourselves can affect whether our employees feel positive about their job and the organisation, feel that they matter and someone cares about them.
Developing good listening skills enables leaders to empathise with employees, read their body language and understand what individuals are thinking and feeling. Knowing that you are being listened to and your needs are being considered helps people to feel valued and increases their sense of well-being.
Be accessible and willing to listen
Lending a sympathetic ear to employees who have concerns, ideas or opinions to share means that problems can be dealt with promptly rather than leading to bigger issues or employees feeling resentful and uncared for in future.
Help colleagues get their work/life balance right
We spend the majority of our lives at work and balancing our busy work life with families, hobbies and holidays can be really tricky. Many of us can feel torn between work and home, particularly now technology means we’re more easily contactable than ever before. We expect our employees to be focused and productive while at work but encouraging them to get their work/life balance right will protect them from potentially burning out.
Keep an eye out for warning signs
Every individual is just that, an individual, and as such the signs they show that they need support will differ across the team. This could be a change in behaviour such as being late for work, a lack of concentration or enthusiasm, a dip in performance standards or an increase in absenteeism. Being aware of and looking out for signs like these allows employers to sensitively address a situation and offer the most appropriate support to re-balance the individual’s well-being.
Offer ways to keep fit and healthy
Good employers will want to encourage and inspire their employees to work hard but to relax and protect their mental health too. You could encourage your colleagues to invest in their well-being while at work in lots of ways, from promoting short, regular breaks in comforting surroundings to mindfulness sessions. We know that regular exercise also leads to better mental health, so why not support initiatives which encourage physical activities, such as a lunch time walking group or after work group fitness classes?
So is your organisation looking after the well-being of its personnel?
Have you come across any other ways of promoting good mental health within your organisations?
Julie Gordon is the Managing Director of cHRysos HR Solutions, a Doncaster based HR training and consultancy company providing CIPD and CMI accredited qualifications, as well as HR Consultancy to SMEs. You can contact Julie on email@example.com or call +44 (0)1302 802128.