Is there anything more important than a healthy working environment? Here at Work.Life, we don’t think so! A healthy workplace can lead to a happier, more productive workforce and ultimately a better experience for your team.
But we’re not only talking about physical health; mental health is just as important.
This Mental Health Awareness Week (and every other week), we’re shining a light on the importance of investing in mental and physical wellbeing in the workplace to help cultivate happy and healthy teams.
Let’s take a closer look at why the wellbeing of your team is so important. Plus, tips on how you can take better care of your team’s mental health at work.
Why is the wellbeing of your team so important?
An estimated 17 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2021/22. What’s more, mental health related sickness absence costs UK employers approximately £56 billion each year. So, you can start to see the reasons for supporting mental health and wellness at work.
Taking care of your team’s mental health is the right thing to do and brings many business benefits, too.
Here are some key reasons to promote good mental health at work:
- Improve morale by showing employees they’re valued and that you care about their wellbeing.
- Boost productivity and creativity. Addressing wellbeing at work increases productivity by as much as 12%.
- Better mental health support in the workplace can save UK businesses up to £8 billion annually.
- Improve employee retention. 61% of people who left or were planning to leave their jobs in 2022 said poor mental health was the reason.
6 tips on supporting mental health at work
Mental health is now one of the most common health issues in the workplace, with an estimated 914,000 workers suffering work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2021/22. So, it’s more important than ever for business owners and leaders to find ways to support their employees’ mental health.
To help, here are six of our top tips on how to promote positive mental health at work:
1. Keep an open line of communication
It’s super important to create an open and supportive workplace where your staff feel comfortable talking to you about their emotions and mental health. So, encourage your team members to share their concerns and feelings without judgement, and schedule regular one-on-one meetings to check in on their wellbeing. An excellent way to do this is to schedule regular one-on-one meetings with your team members to discuss their work and wellbeing.
2. Encourage work-life balance
We’re all about promoting happiness at work. And striking a work-life balance is essential for good mental health. This can be as simple as encouraging staff to take regular breaks or reviewing workloads to make sure they’re manageable. And don’t forget to ask your teams for suggestions on how you can help improve their work-life balance!
3. Create a well-designed office space
Physical characteristics of a workplace, like layout, furniture, lighting and temperature, can impact employee productivity and wellbeing. Here are some pointers on what makes a good physical work environment:
- Separate spaces to accommodate different ways of working, like meeting rooms, breakout areas and private booths.
- Comfortable spots for teams to connect and share ideas or take five.
- Communal eating areas to encourage people away from their desks at lunchtime.
- Furniture that suits the individual and different working options. At the very least, adjustable ergonomic chairs.
- Plenty of natural light and local control of office lighting levels.
- Maintain an office temperature of between 22-26 °C.
- Ask your teams how they would like their work environment. Giving them some control over workplace design will help you create a space they want to work in
4. Promote good physical health
Physical activity does wonders for your mood. Encourage staff to make healthier choices in a low-key, fun way to promote good physical health. You could start an after-work running club, cycle-to-work scheme or lunchtime walks. Or how about weekly yoga or fitness classes? Anything to bump up those mood-boosting endorphins and serotonin!
People will be more inclined to join in if you provide things like showers, bike storage and lockers at work. And dishing out healthy snacks like fruit will help curb those unhealthy snacking habits.
5. Offer mental health resources
Provide your teams with access to mental health resources like personalised information and advice, workshops and web-based materials. Offering such resources costs businesses around £80 per employee per year, which is a small price when considering the benefits. Think reduced absenteeism, improved engagement and happier, more productive teams. Can you really put a price on that?
6. Shake up the nine-to-five
Understanding and accepting that people work differently and have varying needs are big steps to supporting your staff. Consider offering flexible work arrangements, such as hybrid work or flexi-hours, to help your team members manage their work and personal responsibilities.
Flexible hours give employees more control over how, where and when they work. This can help improve work-life balance, avoid commuting crowds and costs, and attend appointments – all important things for managing mental health.
What else can business leaders do?
Lead by example! It’s important to practice what you preach. So, try to take care of your own wellbeing, set boundaries and model good mental health behaviours to empower others to do the same.
Talking openly about mental health and staying clued up on the issue are the best ways to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health challenges inside (and outside!) the workplace.
More info on supporting mental health at work
Whether you’re a business owner, leader or manager, there are plenty of ways to support mental health and workplace wellness. Here are some of our related articles to help you create a happy and inclusive workplace: