The importance of having good mental health has been in the spotlight in recent years, in part thanks to high profile campaigners, like the Prince and Princess of Wales.
We are all now much more aware that maintaining good mental health is just as important as staying physically healthy. From an employers’ point of view, happy and healthy staff are more productive, less likely to be absent through sickness and more likely to stay in post.
This is now widely acknowledged among employers. For example, at Alex Gourley, Managing Director of Boots said: “We are embedding health and wellbeing at the heart of our business strategy because our people are our greatest asset, and we recognise that a healthy, happy and committed workforce is vital to our business success.”
And as Bupa Commercial Director Steve Flanagan said: “Improving the health and wellbeing of our employees makes good business sense. As a leading provider of workplace health services, we see every day the difference it can make to a company’s bottom line and the impact it can have on employee morale and motivation. It offers a ‘win-win’ all round. Employees benefit from better support for their health. Companies benefit from less absence and improved productivity. And society benefits from improved public health.”
So, as an employer, what can you do to help promote good mental health among your team, both for their sake and for your company’s?
1. Education & Training
By vocalising the importance of mental health, by talking about it and bringing the topic out into the open, you will be helping to destigmatise the issue and giving people an opportunity to express how they are feeling.
Offer training to your whole team about the importance of good mental health and how to maintain mental health; don’t limit training to just senior managers and HR.
It’s also a good idea to appoint a mental health first aider at work, who has additional training and who can act as a focal point. Colleagues know they have somewhere and someone to turn to, if they need support, and that they can do so in confidence.
Part of the training is educating your staff to spot telltale signs when a colleague might need help, and what to do if they do believe someone is having difficulties. The ethos is all about looking after your own mental health and looking out for others.
2. Introduce Flexible Working
Since the pandemic, flexible working is far more common among companies and is a benefit that is prized by workers. According to a survey in 2022 by HR and payroll experts Remote, some 76% of employees want flexible working hours more than other benefits such as a company-sponsored retirement plan or finishing early on a Friday.
So, why does flexible working promote good mental health? It’s simple. By giving employees the chance to work from home, choose their start and finish times, or have the option to compress their hours into fewer days, they can reduce homelife stresses. It means they can make doctor’s appointments, do the school run, and be at those important events like sports day or the nativity play. Employees truly value flexible working, which improves their work-life balance.
3. Keep In Regular Contact
If you truly want to understand how your individual employees are doing, then one of the best ways is to schedule regular one-to-one meetings.
This is an opportunity to talk about their work, highlight recent achievements, and key in to their thoughts and feelings. This not only gives them a boost (because they feel valued and listened to) it is an opportunity to head off any potential issues.
As one-on-one meetings can be daunting for many employees, ensure you make it clear that the purpose is to get their feedback on your company’s processes and their workload, as well as provide some feedback of your own. To reinforce this idea, you should openly ask for feedback on how things can be improved within the business, record this, and implement their suggestions where possible.
4. Encourage Self-Care
Promote self-care practices, such as mindfulness exercises, meditation, or yoga, and provide resources or workshops to help employees develop these skills. You could even have classes at lunchtime, or before and after work. Similarly, encourage your team to take breaks and create spaces for relaxation within the workplace.
5. Provide Access To Resources
Not everyone will want to talk about their mental health, even if you have provided a mental health first aider and ample training for your team. So you should also offer signposting to other resources, such as local mental health charities, counselling services, therapists, or support groups to help employees seek assistance when needed.
6. Office Location
Where you are based can have an impact on your employees’ mental health. Comfortable offices, such as the serviced offices we provide at Rombourne, in accessible locations, with ample parking, light and airy work stations, kitchens, breakout areas and more, do much to encourage a happy, healthy workforce.