It is true that our daily routines are what constitute our happiness, wellbeing and experiences. As author Annie Dillard once said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
Now – reconsider this equipped with the knowledge that most people spend one third of their lives at work.2
When taking into account what a large portion of our lives we spend at work, it’s safe to say your job has an enormous impact on your quality of life. Spending each day doing things you enjoy in a supportive environment would support a happy and well-rounded life with a reduced impact on mental health.’
From the increase in remote working to the integration of new technologies, the working world we know today is very different to the one that existed 30 years ago. Video conferencing, e-mail, cloud systems, faster broadband, social media and messenger services have opened a world of possibilities – we’re able to work smarter, faster and from practically anywhere.
However, with a workforce that is progressing and advancing so rapidly, there has been an inevitable rise in work-related stress. A recent survey found that overall employee stress levels have risen by almost 20% since 1990.1
Research by the mental health charity, Mind, found that work was the most stressful factor in many people’s lives. One in three said that their work life was either very or quite stressful, more so than financial problems or debt (30%) or health (17%).
The study of over 2,000 people found that workplace stress has resulted in nearly one in five people (18 per cent) developing anxiety and 7% (increasing to 10% within the 18 – 24 age group) experiencing suicidal thoughts.3
Actively promoting mental wellbeing in the workplace has never been so important. Work related stress can lead to a multitude of mental illnesses, as well as have a negative impact on performance at work. Aside from creating new stresses and anxieties, it’s also important to remember these issues can provoke and/or heighten pre-existing conditions.
COVID-19 was the catalyst for an enormous and entirely unexpected shift in the working world. Following such massive disruption to our daily lives, employers are now reflecting on the importance of the health and wellbeing of their employees. As firms review their practices and procedures in light of the pandemic, we want to share some simple ways for employers to improve their in-house mental health support, as well as the quality of life of their employees:
- Don’t be afraid to discuss mental health in the workplace.
Encourage open discussion of issues relating to depression, anxiety, stress and other mental illness. Removing the stigma around mental illness will encourage those who are struggling to speak out. For many, their ‘workplace’ is now their home. This can sometimes be an isolating place for those used to busy office environments or alike, making these discussions more important than ever.
- Train and educate
Be sure to educate your management team of the signs of mental illness. Provide training so that they are able to respond appropriately if a member of their team is struggling with their mental health.
- Introduce exercise to the workplace
Exercise impacts workplace performance by lowering stress, improving concentration and increasing creativity. Studies have shown that employees who exercise before or during work hours were in a better mood throughout the day and were better equipped in handling daily challenges. This can be carried out in person with social distancing – or, why not consider a zoom or teams workout together?
- Encourage a work-life balance
Allowing balance promotes mental wellbeing, increases productivity and encourages independence.. Consider introducing flexible hours – 75% of UK employees feel less distracted when working from home. As a benefit, it has also been proven to increase employee retention by 10%. For some, the office can offer social aspects that they lack elsewhere in their lives, some employees need these interactions to boost their mood so flexibility is key.
- Offer a varied employee benefits package
Offering a range of health and wellbeing related employee benefits is proven to have a direct impact on both absence and presenteeism rates. You can include mental-health specific benefits such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) in your package, providing quick access to mental health support.
Brunel Employee Benefits is a fully independent employee benefits broker with access to policies that are not available on the open market. Our team can review existing arrangements or provide options for a new range of benefits, including mental health related ones such as EAPs and Private Medical Insurance (PMI). Our clients benefit from a full market review, competitive pricing and access to bespoke policies only available to Brunel Group clients. To discuss your benefits requirements with one of our specialists, get in touch on 0117 325 2224.