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2 min read

Working life is moving faster, placing higher demands on our people and our businesses to keep up.

We are:

Working more

Sleeping less

Eating poorly

Not getting enough physical activity

Sitting too much.

And feeling more stressed - and overwhelmed- than ever.

This is having a huge impact on the wellbeing of our employees physical and mental health, causing an employee to take an average of 7 days off of work a year for health reasons. It is estimated that mental health problems account for 40% of this figure: 2.8 days per employee. If you extrapolate that and consider that this amounts to 70 million working days lost each year due to poor mental health, which costs UK employers £26 million (nearly $38 million), it’s clear that mental health in the workplace needs to be addressed.

But part of the reason that lost work days remains such a problem is because mental health issue remain unseen. If you think this is not a problem in your organisation, think again:

At any one time 1 worker in 6 will be experiencing depression, anxiety or problems relating to stress. It’s actually one of the largest contributors to sickness absence in the UK.

It can be daunting to think about tackling wellbeing, and especially the mental aspect of it. As we’ve said before, wellbeing covers a variety of topics. Sadly there is still a stigma and concern surrounding talking about mental health in the workplace for the fear of lack of promotion, reducing career prospects and general concern of appearing like you cannot cope. 

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In reality, mental and physical wellbeing are so closely intertwined that to deal with one without the other will simply have little to no effect. Here are some of my key recommendations:-

  • Get your senior leadership's team buy in and make sure they set an example of good working practice. They need to be champions of wellbeing and look after their own personal wellbeing, in addition to making it acceptable to speak up about workplace issues.
  • Promote a culture of open and honest feedback through varying channels to manage stress levels and anxiety. This could involve one-to-one meetings, group meetings, staff surveys and focus groups. Normalize mental wellbeing by having it on the agenda to get employees to start to feel comfortable to talk about how they are feeling.
  • Focus on learning and development; employees perform better when they are confident in their ability and well equipped to deliver in their job roles.

Creating an open, honest, caring culture will go part of the way to helping to increase awareness and the ability for employees to be comfortable to discuss these issues. But if you are not there yet, just begin by asking the question and promoting the fact that it is OK not to be OK.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. How do you handle mental wellbeing in your office? 

Author

Lucy Tallick

Lucy Tallick
Reward Gateway

Lucy Tallick has a background in wellbeing strategy for corporations, as well as time spent as a fitness coach and trainer. Lucy is our UK-based wellbeing expert at Reward Gateway.

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