Following our two previous blogs on Stress & Sickness Absence and Burnout as part of April’s Stress Awareness Month, we wanted to round off with a blog centred around the wellbeing initiatives and strategies which you can implement in your workplace to support the mental wellbeing of not only your employees, but yourself.

The CIPD’s 2022 Health and Wellbeing at work survey identified the following benefits from employers increasing their focus on employee wellbeing:

  1. A healthier and more inclusive culture

  2. Better work-life balance

  3. Better employee morale and engagement

  4. Reduced sickness absence

  5. Higher performance and productivity

Whilst COVID-19 has pushed employee health and wellbeing to the top of the agenda, there is an implementation gap and to gain real benefit, employee wellbeing priorities must be integrated throughout an organisation, embedded in its culture, leadership, and people management.

ACAS framework for positive mental health at work relies on employers being visibly committed to positive mental health; managers being informed and open to conversations with their team and individuals being self-aware and able to ask for help if/when needed.

The below is a breakdown of each person’s role within an organisation to promote positive mental health:

Employers: lead and embed a wellbeing strategy; reduce stigma; tackle the causes of workplace stress; support and train managers and understand the impact personal issues can have on mental wellbeing.

Managers: build rapport with staff; plan work with ’people’ in mind; have confidence and knowledge in managing mental health; handle difficult conversations effectively and support work-life balance

Individuals: look after their own wellbeing; use positive coping strategies; identify personal stress triggers; engage with line managers and take notice and support colleagues.

Some of the most common ways in which you can begin to facilitate an open dialogue are:

  1. Undertaking staff surveys and/or focus groups to identify potential stress triggers

  2. Carry out stress risk assessments regularly with your team

  3. Put together wellness action plans – provide several templates and is something employees can put together themselves and refer back to for support

There are of course some more costly wellbeing initiatives, but many are about Company culture and making positive changes within the workplace, so there should be something below to suit everyone:

  • Building up manager knowledge and confidence: training managers on how to have open conversations and to deal with staff experiencing poor mental health is vital as well as being able to signpost an employee to more expert sources of support where necessary e.g., recommending a GP visit or referring to Occupational Health. The Mental Health Charity, Mind, in partnership with the CIPD has a people manager’s guide to mental health which contains information and practical advice to help managers to facilitate conversations with staff regarding stress and poor mental health.

  • Promote work-life balance: Businesses should offer flexible working where possible and cut down on employees consistently working long hours.

  • Improved holiday and leave policies above the statutory minimum – many organisations also allow a paid “Mental Health Day” for each employee every year.

  • Review job design and workloads in order to distribute work more evenly amongst the team and potentially avoid burnout.

  • Create a supportive environment which is open and inclusive. Reducing the stigma around mental health will allow people to speak more openly about how they are feeling.

  • Mental health first aid training: encourage someone in the workplace to undertake their mental health first aid training and become a workplace mental health champion – a designated person people can go to if they need someone to talk to.

  • Plenty of social events and group activities – attendance optional!

  • Non-financial recognition such as positive feedback on performance.

  • Paid volunteering days

  • Introducing an employee assistance programme: many EAP’s offer access to counselling, mental health resources as well as a multitude of discounts to UK retailers. Some of the top results on Google are Bupa, perkbox and Health Assured.

  • Health & Wellbeing allowance: every member of the team gets a monthly physical wellbeing allowance to spend on something of their choice. ThanksBen is an example of an app which allows everybody to be given a specific budget and they can spend this how they wish!

  • Headspace SubscriptionHeadspace is an app on your phone which focuses on Meditation, Sleep, Movement and Mindfulness.

To help support your own wellbeing you can try to:

  • Stay in contact with people – take time to talk about how you’re feeling and meet up with friends and family

  • Keep physically active and exercise

  • Make time for activities you enjoy or learn a new skill

  • Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness) to reflect on what helps you feel more positive and what does not

For further support about any of the contents of this three-part series; advice if you think someone in your team is struggling with poor mental health; or for help putting together a Stress Risk Assessment or Wellbeing Policy please contact your designated Account Manager or a member of the team on 0131 225 7458.