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Five steps to improved workplace wellness

Richard Holmes

Employee wellness is all about ensuring staff are happy and healthy in and out of work. Mental health-related presenteeism costs employers up to three times the cost of mental health-related absence so it’s more important than ever for businesses to take action and take greater responsibility for the wellbeing of employees. Contirbutor Richard Holmes, Director of Wellbeing – Westfield Health.

It’s undoubtedly a win-win for both parties as employees are more likely to work longer and be more productive when they are happy and healthy. Alongside this, it is emerging that employees are calling out for greater support at work, with 8 in 10 saying they do not believe their employer does enough to support their physical and mental wellbeing2.

Encourage staff to get out the office
“Not only is eating at your desk bad for your body, it’s bad for your work and your mental health. Getting fresh air and a change of scenery will mean employees return to their desks feeling recharged and less stressed. It is also a good way to encourage employees to get out the office and exercise. You can also help decrease the risk of depression and poor mental health by suggesting a walking meeting every now and again.”

Approachable line managers
“The first point of call sits with line managers. As well as helping employees achieve their work-related goals, a key part of a line manager’s role is to be an approachable mentor, a good listener and to be understanding. This communication between an employee and their line manager can play a massive part in their mental wellbeing at work and therefore reduce mental health related absences.”

Destigmatise mental health
“In 2016/17, there were over half a million (526,000) cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety, and this accounted for 40 percent of all work-related ill health1. A ‘mental health day’ gives staff the ability to treat a mental health absence with the same approach as a physical sickness day.  This will reduce the stigma around mental health and encourage staff to talk openly about their mental wellbeing. It is also a good way to monitor how people are feeling, for instance if someone is absent as a result of their mental health, something can be put in place to monitor and support them.”

Keep it fun
“Implement schemes and competitions in the workplace as an incentive for staff to get involved. Competitions can include sports days, quizzes or a step challenge and can either be judged individually or in teams. Introduce prizes to build competitiveness such as a free massage, healthy food vouchers or a gym subscription, resulting in a happier, healthier lifestyle.”

Flexible working
“The traditional 9 to 5 hours may not fit in with everyone’s lifestyle, so offering a flexible schedule may make a lot of employee’s lives easier. Businesses can also offer the option to work from home a few days a week. If an employee has a long commute, this can have a big impact on energy levels and general wellbeing.

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