Wellness at work – A New Year’s Resolution?
Having considered some revealing stats on the subject, Melissa now looks at ways of putting wellness at work at the heart of our businesses.
Part 2: Make the resolution reality
In Part 1 of this blog, we used some stats from the CIPD Health and Wellbeing at Work Survey 2019 to show that mental illness is a live issue for businesses.
In this follow-up blog, I’m setting out five key pillars of an approach to wellness at work. Use this framework to help promote awareness of the issue and demonstrate to your colleagues that you’ll have their back in the event of mental illness.
Make it a management priority
Ensure your C-suite and departmental heads have wellness at work high up on their agendas. This will help raise awareness and get the message out that you take the issue seriously enough to build it into your organisation’s culture. By all means, appoint a welfare officer to coordinate your work in this area (see Make it tangible below), but steer clear of seeing it as discrete department – wellness at work should permeate all areas of your business.
Make it tangible
Create a policy document that spells out your position on wellness at work. Be specific about the support available for colleagues with mental health conditions. Also, engage a third party Employee Assistance Provider (EAP). This is an organisation that your employees can contact in confidence and free of charge. Being able to discuss a range of issues such as stress, emotional problems and work/life balance with an external expert consultant is often more helpful than going to the boss.
Make yourself available
Relationships at work and management style are two of the top three causes of stress at work (the third is unmanageable workloads) and often the reason people leave their jobs.
So, if you manage people, let it be known that you’re open to discussion about pressures of the job that may impact a colleague’s wellbeing. Financial targets and client deadlines make it easy to forget sometimes that the people sitting alongside us are the best assets we have. Even a simple ‘How are you?’ from time to time can be enough to trigger a conversation that reveals the early warning signs of mental illness. If people know you’re listening, they’ll be more likely to speak.
Make it visible
Use your communal spaces and intranet to promote healthy lifestyles both at home and at work. Maybe consider incentives, role modelling of positive lifestyle choices and running mental health awareness sessions with experts in the field?
Make it OK to talk about mental health
A colleague returns to work after a bout of flu or having broken their leg. There’s no stigma, no awkwardness, no avoiding eye contact. Unfortunately, we’re not at the stage yet when the same can said for a colleague returning to work after a period of depression or anxiety.
Learn from movements such as Time to Change, led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, which get people speaking and blogging about the obstacles mental illnesses put in front of them in the workplace. At the very least, get involved in Time to Talk Day 2020. It’s on Thursday 6 February.
Finally, remember that all of the above can only improve your bottom line through reduced absence, lower staff turnover and ultimately, improved profits.