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How to improve mental health in the workplace

Happiness is becoming a buzz word in business this year, after a recent CIPD survey showed that a quarter of workers believe that their job negatively impacts their mental health. From relationships with colleagues to poor management and stress, there’s many aspects of the workplace that can impact positivity and self-esteem.

Over the past decade, numerous studies have measured the impact of happiness on productivity and employee retention, conclusively agreeing that happy staff members work harder and give more back to the organisation.  As well as being up to 20% more productive, reports show that they are also more likely to stay at the company, leading to a reduction in costly hiring processes.

But although these factors are now recognised by 80% of managers (according to a 2017 Deloitte study), only 22% were rated ‘excellent’ when it came to building a positive employee experience.

So what steps can companies take to boost mental health among their employees?

Small office changes

One of the easiest ways to promote positive mental health in the workplace is to make small changes around the office. From morning fruit baskets that promote healthy eating, to a ban on sending non-emergency emails between certain hours, managers need to be demonstrating a holistic approach to positivity in the workplace. Employees should be encouraged to go home after a certain time, or given time in lieu if they need to work overtime, to maintain a work/life balance.

Flipping the pyramid

For years we’ve taken the ‘top-down’ approach to management, with traditional hierarchical structures in place in most companies. While experience counts, it’s also important to make sure the voices of junior staff are heard, and that they are given the opportunity to develop quickly within an organisation. Whether it’s a bonus structure that favours lower paid staff or regular workshops held by juniors, there’s plenty of ways to make less senior employees feel like a vital part of the business, rather than another cog in the machine.

Personalised benefits

A survey by Jobsite showed that 86% of people are influenced by the benefits package when they take a role. But while one person might value access to healthcare, another might be motivated by additional holiday or child care assistance. A personalised benefits package allows employees to choose what suits them, and makes people feel as though their voice is being heard. Additional ‘extras’ like birthday bunk-offs and mental health days are also being piloted by many companies, all of which help to boost an employee’s state of mind.

Promoting exercise

Office workers are renowned for their sedentary lifestyles, with studies showing that this can lead to physical health problems, as well influencing mental wellbeing. For some people, reduced gym memberships are enough to get them moving, but others are deterred by the prospect of a strict regime. Businesses can introduce fun exercise-based activities, such as lunchtime yoga sessions or group participation in organised runs for charity, all of which will encourage time-strapped employees to get moving.

Counselling support

Despite numerous campaigns, stigma around anxiety and depression remains, and some people are reluctant to admit when they are struggling. Managers can combat this by introducing confidential counselling opportunities for employees, a private place they can go to get any concerns off their chest. Whether it’s part of a private healthcare insurance plan or a separate initiative run by the company, employees will feel more confident if they know there’s someone to speak to when they need to communicate.

Team building

All work and no play doesn’t build an engaged and dynamic team. Investing in regular team building activities gives your employees the chance to connect with each other away from the hubbub and stress of office life. Mending fractured relationships and boosting people’s confidence in different areas, these activities increase communication and trust– both of which have a huge impact on people’s happiness and mental health. Whether it’s a group treasure hunt or a team night out, investment in staff activities is crucial.

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