Five ways to improve workplace wellbeing during Mental Health Awareness Week

19 May 2020

Mental Health Awareness Week has never been more important. In these challenging times, it is incredibly important for employers to protect the mental and emotional wellbeing of their staff.

Social isolation, disruption to everyday life and the stress of living through a global pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on workplace wellbeing. Employers are rightly taking steps to support their workers, particularly in light of the demonstrable link between wellbeing and productivity.

Here are a few ways employers can help support mental health within their organisation over the course of the lockdown and beyond.

    1.    Offer wellbeing days

Wellbeing days are a relatively recent concept. Simply put, it is designated time off for employees to take care of their mental health, treated either as a sick day or additional paid leave. Either way employees can use the extra day off to seek support or professional help, or simply to relax and enjoy a break from the rigours of the office 

    2.    Show leadership and share your own stories

When business leaders and executives take the lead, their employees—and society at large—often follow. This extends to wellbeing, and employers can lead the way in creating a more accepting and tolerant workplace culture by sharing their own stories of mental ill-health—mental health is often seen as a sign of weakness because successful individuals are perceived not to suffer from it.

    3.    Reduce
workload and address stress

According to the HSE, the leading cause of workplace stress, anxiety and depression is workload. Employers should work to reduce their staff’s workload and make steps to eliminate a culture that rewards overwork.

    4.    Offer flexible working

One thing the pandemic is teaching us is the value of a more flexible approach to work. Freed from the time constraints of the typical workday, many of us have discovered that working from home lets us make better choices about how we spend our time, with less commuting, the ability to dip in and out of work, and less expenditure on travel, lunch and coffee. Giving employees the ability to decide how and when they start work, as well as more opportunity to work from home will have a massive impact on mental health, as it has for some of us during the lockdown. 

    5    Improve communication

The biggest barrier to getting support and guidance for mental health and wellbeing is communication. Too often, employees are unaware of the help already available to them, or don’t believe their issues will be taken seriously by their managers. Employers should communicate clear
guidelines for seeking support, and ensure staff is aware that help is available, and where they can find it.

Find ways to support your staff this Mental Health Awareness Week, and throughout the rest of the lockdown period. You’ll find a real long-term benefit to establishing structures and systems to improve workplace wellbeing, including an enormous, measurable boost to productivity.

This year, the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards is celebrating organisations and individuals that have excelled during the lockdown. With so many businesses reorienting their work towards helping key workers and communities, the awards are likely to be full of firms that have operated with the public good at the heart of what they do.

That might include supporting mental, emotional and financial wellbeing. If your firm has a success story to tell, take a look at our awards to find out which one best reflects your business success this year.