Looking after your mental health & wellness in the workplace, as well as your employees’, is a hot topic at the moment, and rightly so. It is certainly more talked about now than it ever has been, and awareness of the impact that everyday life can have on individuals is growing. I’m sure we’ve all had moments where life just feels a little overbearing, and this can really impact a person at work. After all, we spend a good majority of our time there. Business owners and leaders can, and should, help to minimise additional or unnecessary stresses on their workforce. However, it can be hard to work out what to do to improve employee mental health & promote wellness at work.
How much does it cost? And do I need to have some form of qualification? Both are common thoughts… or maybe we should all just ‘man-up’ a bit more and get on with it…
Like most people, I’ve had my fair share of mental health issues over the years. A difficult childhood, getting married, buying a house, becoming a dad (twice!) have all sparked a variety of anxiety and stress issues for me. Throw into that trying to be a good employee, manager & business leader as well, and it’s fair to say I’ve had (and still have) times when my glass is well and truly overflowing.
Recently I attended the Mental Health First Aid course (MHFA) to better understand how we can help improve communication and awareness of wellness in the workplace. As well as finding new connections with like-minded peers, sharing ideas and current practices, the course taught me how the smallest of ‘fixes’ can make a huge difference to the day-to-day.
I’d thoroughly recommend any business serious about wellness at work participate on this course, but for now I thought I’d share a few quick fixes that we have implemented at HIGHJAM with the hope that others might benefit like we have.
We’re trying to tailor rewards to each person and keep them on a wellness theme as opposed to just getting the booze out, which we tended to lean towards to celebrate in the past (as much fun as that is, of course).
Sharing numbers and contacts of helplines
We’ve put up phone numbers and information on helplines and organisations that specialise in mental health issues in our bathrooms – often the place we run to for a quiet moment in times of stress. Now anyone can seek out sources of help in privacy, if and when they need to.
Using the company enrichment day wisely
We’re looking into what we can do as a team to ‘give a bit back’. There are some great charities out there that are always on the lookout for volunteers. For example: Whitechapel Mission and Streets of London Sleep Out to name a couple. Supporting these can be great team bonding exercises that also enrich the lives of others.
Starting a walking group at lunchtimes
I’m one of the worst for sitting at my desk all day long, grabbing lunch at my desk while continuing to stare at my laptop screen carrying out the tasks that need doing. This is no good for our minds or concentration levels, so we’re starting to get everyone out at lunchtime. Just a short walk around the local area to get our bodies moving, and most importantly, to give our minds a break and enjoy some fresh air.
Having regular wellness sessions
We’ve started a monthly wellness forum where we share ideas on how to combat stress and general life challenges both in and outside of the workplace. This is an open forum where we can all share new ideas and openly discuss what we can do to improve our lives at work. Some ideas so far include meditation, weekly pilates & yoga sessions, creating a ‘wellness wall’ with articles and info on all things wellness related, and borrowing dogs to stroke!
We’ve all got a lot on both at home and at work, so let’s try and get the balance right so we’re not overflowing all the time. I’d like to think we’ve started to create a safe space for employees to talk more openly about their challenges without fear of judgement, and that we’re able to help someone before their glass gets too full.
It’s the least we can do – our employees are the most important part of our business, and if we don’t look after them properly, we won’t have much of a business left to work with.