How to improve employee mental health at work
Poor mental health in the workplace is a big problem for British businesses. In this blog we share initiatives you can introduce to help your staff improve their mental health.
Recent stats suggest that a total of 12.8 million working days are lost each year due to mental health conditions. 14% of UK workers have ended up resigning as a result of being under too much pressure at work, with an extra 42% considering doing so.
In fact, the UK’s poor mental health could be costing the British economy as much as £94bn every year.
Five tips to improve your staff’s mental health at work
To help you boost positive wellbeing at work, here are five tips for maintaining good mental health in the workplace.
1. Introduce an email-free day
It often seems easier to send an email rather than getting up to speak to someone, however building positive work relationships can help contribute to positive mental health, so why not consider encouraging employees to talk to each other and set up an email-free day once a week where in-house emails are banned. That way, people are driven to pick up the phone or go and talk to colleagues. Not only will this help build the social relationships that are needed to maintain good mental health, it’ll also contribute towards more cohesive teams that work better together.
2. Offer free office massages
Bringing in a massage therapist to offer neck and back messages every couple of weeks can help reduce the stress levels in your office, matched with desk health education, this could also help to mitigate posture issues associated with desk bound jobs. Research has found a positive correlation between massages and the lessening of some physical symptoms of mental health issues such as headaches, tiredness and muscle pain. Massages are also a nice break away from work, for your employees to take a moment to relax and focus on them.
3. Encourage your employees to be active
One of the foundations for good mental health is good physical health. Keeping active can help reduce the likelihood of depression and anxiety and can even help slow age-related cognitive decline. However, keeping active can be difficult for people who work full-time, especially if they have commitments outside of work.
To help, consider launching lunchtime sporting groups at your workplace. Any business can introduce walking and running clubs, or circuit training, and if you have the appropriate space you could even organise weekly yoga classes. You never know, there might even be employees with a passion for fitness. Such activities also provide an outlet to spend time with colleagues and continue to develop their social interactions.
If fostering a team environment is important to you, after-work five-a-side football or netball teams could be an interesting way to encourage your staff to be more active. These also have the bonus of building social networks and boosting team morale.
4. Offer free fruit at work
Eating a healthier diet is key to improving physical health. One of the simplest ways to introduce healthier foods to the working environment is to offer free fruit to your employees. This is a relatively inexpensive initiative too!
To keep things interesting remember not everyone loves apples and bananas. Mixing it up by providing something a bit more exotic, such as passion fruit or kiwi, might entice the most ardent fruitophobes to the table.
5. Provide support and someone to talk to
While office initiatives are all well and good for improving mental health in the workplace, the best solutions are often the simplest.
Offering a safe and confidential space for staff to speak to someone is fundamental in helping tackle workplace mental health issues, as well as those that could be affecting someone at home.
Some employees may also benefit from professional advice, and employers can help provide support by pointing their workers in the direction of counsellors, mental health practitioners, or even financial advisors or legal professionals. All Benenden Healthcare for Business customers have access to our Mental Health Helpline where employees can speak to an experienced therapist 24/7 to support with conditions such as anxiety, depression, bereavement or relationship problems.
You can find out more about how to develop your own health and wellbeing guide by downloading our free employer’s guide today. We also have a suite of posters which provide some steps your employees could take to help improve their mental, financial and physical health, download the poster suite here.
Four ways your employees can improve their mental health at work
We’ve talked about how you can help your employees look after their mental health, but how can you encourage them to help themselves?
We have produced a useful poster for employees with tips on how to maintain good mental health, as well as financial and physical health, – download here.
Also, here are four easy ways you can start to help your employees foster good mental health.
1. Be honest – get your employees talking
Fostering a culture of openness and honesty at work will help your employees manage their mental health better. Motivate managers to ask the right questions in 1-2-1’s, so they’re clear on how workload is currently impacting mood and morale.
If employees feel empowered to talk, they are more likely to seek help for any mental health related problems they’re experiencing both in and out of work.
2. Encourage breaks and fresh air
Encourage your team to go for a walk at lunch time, or allow walking meetings, and get some fresh air outside. Spending time outside has many wonderful health benefits including boosting vitamin D levels.
Sharing local routes on your company intranet is a good way to spread the word, as is starting a walking group for employees. This doesn’t all have to be organised by HR, asking for volunteers from within the business is a good way to get everyone involved.
3. Tidy desk, tidy mind
It’s widely considered that ‘mess causes stress’ with clutter having a huge impact on how we view our surroundings. Having a messy desk can inhibit creativity and productivity, as well as sending signals to our brain that work is never done.
Sharing tidying tips with your employees can help them organise their workspace and feel less stressed.
4. Good work-life balance
Working long hours has countless negative side effects from increased fatigue and more stress, to musculoskeletal damage and risk of obesity.
One of the easiest ways you can help your employees look after their mental health at work is by discouraging long working hours to encourage good work-life balance.
Remember everyone is different so it’s integral that managers encourage good practice on an employee-by-employee basis to make sure everyone is benefiting.
Your guide to developing a health and wellbeing strategy
Our 50+ page guide takes you through the five key stages to creating a health and wellbeing strategy at your company, now including a Benenden Health case study. The guide includes advice on:
- Planning your approach
- Getting management buy-in and securing budget
- Developing your strategy
- Launch your health and wellbeing strategy
- Reviewing and refreshing your strategy
To access the full guide simply complete the form and download.
Benenden Healthcare for Business
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