Mental health is top of mind for many small businesses, particularly after the last 12+ months of remote working. Even before the pandemic, mental health charity Mind published a report which revealed that work-related mental ill-health was costing small businesses up to £26 billion every year.
Making employee wellbeing a priority for your business could make all the difference in the long run. Showing empathy and providing support helps build a positive workplace culture and is likely to make your employees a lot happier, helping you boost their mental wellbeing as well as attracting and retaining the best talent.
In this blog, we’ve explored four ways you can boost your employees’ mental wellbeing as a small business, from taking breaks to providing the tools they need.
|1. Encourage regular breaks|
|2. Let people choose their ideal environment|
|3. Give them the tools they need|
|4. Open up the conversation around mental health|
1. Encourage regular breaks
One of the simplest ways to boost employee wellbeing is to encourage them to take breaks… and actually mean it. Taking time to rest and recharge is a vital part of improving wellbeing, and you need to make sure that you and your teams are leading by example. After all, if it’s normal in your workplace for senior people to send emails after hours and put in meetings over lunch, how can your employees truly switch off?
Consider introducing initiatives such as a company-wide ‘lunch hour’ where people are discouraged from booking meetings, or meeting-free weeks so your employees can focus on getting the work done. If flexible work makes sending out-of-hours emails a necessity, encourage people to add a disclaimer to their email explaining that they work flexibly, and people shouldn’t feel pressured to respond outside of their working hours.
2. Let people choose their ideal environment
Early birds, night owls, permanently exhausted pigeons. Everybody works differently, and understanding those differences is key to creating a workplace that your people love. Empowering your employees to choose when and where they work, wherever possible, can have a huge impact on mental health. According to research, 66% of SMEs believe that flexible working is a positive thing for their work and personal lives, helping them achieved much needed balance.
Allowing employees to choose how and where they want to work, or even setting their own hours, is likely to improve employee wellbeing - whether they prefer to work in their pyjamas on the sofa or surrounded by employees in the office. It also has the potential to make your teams better at what they do, especially for creative or engineering roles where people may find themselves more focussed and productive outside of the typical 9 to 5.
3. Give them the tools they need
If you’d like to go a step further to support wellbeing for your small business, consider offering tools and resources as part of your employee benefits package. Many people find that a combination of mindfulness, meditation and movement can have a positive impact on managing stress, so finding ways to support these behaviours is likely to boost your employees’ wellbeing.
The Wellbeing Centre within Reward Gateway for Small Business is packed with on-demand videos and articles including guided meditations and soundscapes to help your employees master their mental health, from reducing stress and improving the quality of their sleep. It also features exercise videos, recipes and financial wellbeing advice to support all pillars of wellbeing.
4. Open up the conversation about mental health
Chances are we’ve all been affected by stress at some point in our lives. Mental health can be difficult to talk about, but opening up the conversation in your workplace can help people feel supported and valued. Encourage your employees to make use of the resources you’ve put in place and promote your wellbeing strategy on key mental health awareness days to create moments to discuss with employees, such as Blue Monday or R U OK? Day.
Consider asking for honest feedback from your teams about what they need to feel supported with their mental health.
Circulating an anonymous survey is a great way to see how your employees feel about your approach and understand what you could do better, plus it shows that your employees that you are listening, and you care about their wellbeing.
All in all, there are many ways you can boost your employees’ wellbeing as a small business. Here’s a round-up of our four tips for improving wellbeing.
- Encourage regular breaks and lead by example by introducing initiatives that will help your employees truly switch off and recharge
- Let people choose their ideal working environment wherever possible, whether that’s choosing where to work or setting their own working hours
- Give them the tools they need to support wellbeing by offering resources as part of your employee benefits package
- Open up the conversation about mental health by highlighting awareness days, promoting resources you’ve put in place and asking how you could do better
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