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5 ways to tackle employee mental health and encourage wellbeing

Today marks the start of 2020’s Mental Health Awareness Week. This is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health and mental health issues as well as to encourage action to promote the message of good mental health for all, both in a private capacity and professionally. For many, mental health is often seen as a taboo subject with many negative stigmas attached, especially in the workplace as employees are often afraid to open up as they are scared of the consequences and how it may impact their job going forward.

With the current Covid-19 pandemic we find ourselves in, there will of course be a lot more stress, fears and anxieties for one and all. Be it about catching the virus, losing a loved one, fears about finances and what will happen to jobs and the future way of working. More so than before, it is critical to focus on your employees’ wellbeing and give them the necessary tools they need to feel better equipped to deal with their feelings and insecurities and to best support them in whatever way possible. With social distancing and many people working from home, access to mental health support may look different to the traditional ways of helping.

In today’s busy and ever demanding workspace, employees are overworked, stretched to capacity, often feel undervalued and this has the potential to spiral downwards rapidly and drastically affect mental health. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year. Fortunately more and more businesses are starting to take initiative to introduce means to tackle this subject within the workplace. There are many different avenues which businesses can use to approach this, some very costly and other about working smartly and offering more flexibility. Below are five ways to address mental health and wellbeing at work:

1. Be flexible with times
For some employees, offering flexibility may be more beneficial than an increase in pay cheque. Giving employees an element of freedom to come in later and leave earlier, or the option to work from home can help reduce stress and anxiety and can often promote productivity. This also shows companies do indeed value and trust their employees to get the job done, which can help promote confidence in the workplace. In today's times when employees are working from home there is still an opportunity to offer flexibility. Let your team do suitable hours, attend appointments and take the necessary time they need to get the help they may need. Sometimes this speaks louder than words and can assist in reducing unnecessary stress, increasing productivity and reducing staff sickness.

2. Offer an EAP
Companies can show a duty of care to their employees by offering an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). This will give employees access to 24/7 confidential help and advice when they most need it. If employees are experiencing any work-related or personal difficulties this can severely effect their working capacity and can increase absenteeism. Employee morale will be down and this can impact the whole culture like wildfire. An EAP service can include everything from telephone helplines, structured telephone counselling, post trauma support, GP Call back and medical advice, commercial legal advice for HR, online Health Portal, online Health Assessments, online Personal Coaching Tools… to name a few. An EAP can have vast benefits including reducing employee absenteeism and sick leave, retaining top caliber employees, boosting performance and productivity as well as improving employee overall wellbeing.

3. Introduce a wellness initiative
A longer term solution to tackling mental health can be to introduce ongoing healthy benefits and perks for employees. A healthy body often leads to a healthy mind. There are many ways to do this, be it giving the team some time out to focus on themselves, regular Yoga classes at work, a meditation room, or some bootcamp classes at the local park. Why not introduce a healthy snack station or a smoothie bar in the office? More so, encourage your teams to take time away from their screens, have a walk around, stretch their legs and get away from the grind. A healthy body can aid in a healthy mind, so lead the way to a healthier workspace which can most definitely tackle mental health and alleviate any additional stressors.

4. Recognise and say thank you!
All of us need recognition, recognition that a job has been done well, or a simple thank you - this is a basic human need. When receiving a well done or public acknowledgment in front of the team, there is nothing better to boost morale and make one feel valued. The ramifications of this are huge, where commitment, motivation and passion can soar. Whether you decide to recognise and reward informally, or by implementing a full scale reward and recognition programme, this is an area where time and efforts should be allocated.

5. Work-life balance
A work-life balance is absolutely crucial for all employees and their wellbeing. Encourage your team to work an 8 hour day and not more, to try not check emails late at night or over the weekend, or limit the over hours if tasks permit. Ensure work deadlines and commitments are realistic and do not require consistent overtime, and when they do, offer time off in lieu. Ensuring your team feel they are able to have this balance will do wonders for this mental wellbeing. When your team are overworked and overstretched, they are not working to their optimum so it’s a lose-lose situation all round

So, is mental health a priority in your business? Do you think it should be such a hot topic? And what initiatives have you seen or heard during this Mental Health Awareness Week that you think will make a difference?

If you'd like to find out how Xexec can help your employees' wellbeing, why not get in touch today?

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