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Last updated: 17.09.18

Top five ways to improve mental wellbeing in your workplace

The workplace has come a long way over the last 10 years in recognising the importance of employee mental wellbeing. However, many organisations still need to understand why this is relevant and are struggling to address the challenges and how to remove the stigma in the workplace.

There are many influencing factors at play, however here are five easy steps you can take to help drive improvements to mental wellbeing in your workplace:

  1. See mental health and wellbeing as a priority
    The government produces a series of policies and guidelines to support mental health in the workplace – but these need careful implementation. All policies need the support of managers to create a plan for how to use such policies and how to read the signs of employees struggling with their mental health. (see latest government legislation here)

    Having open dialogue with teams and ensuring teams are supported is a crucial first step in creating the right culture for mental health and wellbeing welfare. There are foundations and charities providing free resources and support to employees. Managers can also ensure a work / life balance for employees to help reduce work related stress.
  2. Take a proactive approach to mental health and wellbeing with your employees
    Anticipate issues and address them with teams and employees. This is more effective than waiting for employees to come to you and you having to be reactive.

    A proactive approach can be in any form of a campaign – starting with a conversation, or a short employee survey, through to an online eLearning campaign or a series of podcasts. In 2017, Virgin Money Mind Media Awards, shortlisted Children in Mind for their podcast series that helped parents understand and manage child and family mental health problems around self-harm and childhood anxiety.
  3. Get better insight into the benefits of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace
    Positive effects on performance can and should be measured. Find ways to look into this so you can do more of what works! For example, taking meetings outside or having catch up with employees over a walk and a coffee in a different environment can really help reduce stress and anxiety, resulting in better relationships and stronger conversations.

    Collaborate with other team managers to get insight into how they are managing their staff and find solutions that would work with HR for example having a sports and social club that is run by the staff for the staff – this helps make work a meaningful place to work, somewhere friendships are formed and not just where business is done. This can really help engagement amongst the staff but allow employees to look forward to key social dates – as well as improve collaboration across different departments.
  4. How will you measure the ROI on a wellbeing strategy?
    Achieving a holistic, inclusive wellbeing strategy, that incorporates mental health, is a challenge that many employers grapple with. Becky Thoseby, Department for Transport’s Group Head of Wellbeing asked employees to define what wellbeing means to them - creating a person-centred approach to make wellbeing truly inclusive.

    “It means that we can offer each individual what they need for their own condition and circumstances, rather than seeing them through the lens of one issue.”

    Some symptoms of mental illness can manifest themselves as poor performance at work, missing deadlines, failing to get work done. However, by having a clear element of expectations on the employee to share their thoughts on their own wellbeing, this means the employer can act as a facilitator and enabler, to help resolve the issues.

    "We believe  each person is their own best expert and has the right to define what wellbeing means to them, and the responsibility for that lies with the employee. We expect them to take care of themselves, be open with their line manager about their issues, and ask for help when they need it. The role of the employer is that of an enabler, or facilitator – and part of this is meeting our legal obligations towards our employees. These elements are largely covered by Health & Safety and Employee Relations colleagues, both of whom I work closely with” - Becky Thoseby, Department for Transport’s Group Head of Wellbeing
  5. Best practice examples
    The entire business world is striving to learn from and benefit from best case examples of what works to address mental wellbeing in the workplace. The truth is, that no one team or individual employee in any given company will have the exact same mental health challenges (causes, coping mechanisms or even the factors contributing to the mental wellbeing at work) as another. So all cases are unique.

    For that reason, a company must create a culture of sharing what is working, what doesn’t work and what worked best in each given scenario. There will be new ideas that help drive change that will work one year, but not the next. So it is a constant cycle of improvement that must be shred openly within the company and with their employees.

    For more information on the creation of digital solutions to support your wellbeing strategy in the workplace, please email us on hello@virtual-college.co.uk and one of our experts will get back to you to discuss.