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October 3, 2019

Wellbeing and Mental Health at Work is Finally Being Taken Seriously, Research Finds

Creating a culture of wellbeing can help make your employees happier, healthier, more productive and far more likely to deliver the best outcomes for your business.

New research has found that employee wellbeing has moved from being a textbook concept to a living breathing reality as employers realise that health is key to creating positive working environments.

Increasingly more employees are citing stress and overwork as reasons for high sickness absence. Consequently, wellbeing, and particularly mental wellbeing, has become a key focus for organisations.

Organisations have finally realised that a poor working environment and a culture where speaking about mental health is a taboo subject, can lead to reduced productivity, a lack of motivation and a high staff turnover.

68% of organisations now have a strategy in place for monitoring employee wellbeing

A recent survey on employee wellbeing found that 68% of organisations now have a strategy in place for monitoring employee wellbeing. This has more than doubled since 2016 when the survey was first launched.

The results are part of the Reward and Employee Benefits Association’s latest annual employee survey. The survey of health, wellbeing and HR specialists found that there is also a significant increase in employers offering specific mental health support. 62% of respondents said that mental health was now the number one wellbeing priority at Board level. In addition, 46% now have a dedicated mental health strategy in place in 2019, which is a significant increase from 16% in 2018. The report suggests that if this trend continues at its current rate, the number of employers without any form of wellbeing strategy could be as low as 17% next year. And by the mid 2020s all employers could have a strategy in place.

High pressure environments with long working hours persist

Although the data collected in the survey suggests a rise in wellbeing strategies, 73% of employers thought that high-pressure environments, long hours and a poor work-life balance were a major cause of stress which is the same percentage as in 2018.  22% of employees surveyed said that they often/always felt exhausted at work or were under excessive pressure.

72% of senior managers stated that they were committed to ensuring that wellbeing was high on the agenda. But all levels of management need to lead by example to drive change. This includes taking proper breaks, leaving work on time, managing people with respect and fairness and talking about wellbeing at performance reviews.

What if you’re not part of the 68% of companies with an employee wellbeing strategy? What can you do to remedy this?

We all have mental health, just the same as we all have physical health. Like physical health, sometimes our mental health is good or poor. One in four of us have some kind of mental health issue at some point in our working lives. This is something we should all acknowledge. In order to do this, organisations who don’t already have a wellbeing strategy should consider raising awareness on how to cope with pressurised situations.

How to start the conversation about wellbeing and mental health

Management should be more open to conversations regarding health, including mental health.

It’s a well-known fact that men are far less likely to talk about their health, either physical or mental. It is also a well-reported fact that more men commit suicide as they won’t ask for help for fear of being seen as weak, even when they desperately need help. Do you work in an all-male or predominantly male environment? If so this is an area where you can definitely benefit from being open and supportive.

Employees should be able to say, “I’m struggling”, “I’m working too much” or “I need support” in the workplace without the fear of negative consequences. Making time for an employee or colleague is a really easy way to make a difference to someone’s day. If you’ve noticed a colleague is down, or more stressed than usual, being there for them can make a big difference.

How to create a mentally healthy work culture

Around 15 million working days are lost each year in the UK due to poor mental health. Therefore training on wellbeing and mental health is far more than just a nice thing to do. It’s necessary for your employees to be productive and, ultimately, for your business to prosper.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do we treat our employees?
  • Do we give them support and encouragement?
  • Are there any conflicts within the working environment?

If the responses to these questions are negative, it will indicate areas where you can improve. Creating a culture where employee wellbeing is prioritised involves encouraging employees to talk about how they feel. It’s also important that management can offer solutions, guidance and confidentiality.

Taking such a positive and proactive approach will affect the whole organisation in a positive way. It will improve employee morale and empower staff to take control of their wellbeing and mental health. Both at work and at home.

Mental Health First Aid Training

A recent survey by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health found that six in ten managers have not received sufficient training to recognise the signs of mental ill-health in their employees.

Employers should consider Mental Health First Aid Training that gives staff the tools to recognise and support mental ill-health.

Ultimately, an open and supportive culture will lead to a more successful business.

Next Steps

To find out more about the key elements of employee wellbeing you can watch our webinar.

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About the author

Hannah Booth

About the author

Hannah Booth

A graduate of Lancaster University and holder of a Professional Certificate and CAM Diploma in marketing and digital marketing, Hannah is our Communications & Content Manager. Hannah is responsible for all customer communications for Moorepay, and for leading on and producing key content on legislative and industry topics for the Moorepay knowledge centre.

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