Guest Blog by Keith Tully, partner at Real Business Rescue (part of Begbies Traynor Group plc).
Keith has more than 25 years’ experience advising company directors and shareholders on a range of business matters including cash flow concerns, raising finance, and HR issues.
Our ‘always on’ working culture and sometimes unrealistic expectations of employees, has led to mental well-being in the workplace becoming a significant issue for employers and their staff.
Businesses that cultivate trust and develop a mentally healthy, resilient workforce benefit as much as their staff, however, and regardless of the size of your organisation it’s not difficult or expensive to provide a positive environment where employees can flourish.
With this in mind, here are seven practical ways you can boost mental well-being in your workplace.
1. Limit out-of-hours work communication
Identifying poor working practices is a logical starting point when considering this issue, and excessive work communications outside working hours is one such practice that has become commonplace.
The effect this has on employees can be extremely negative, however – being unable to fully switch off from work isn’t healthy and can be a source of considerable stress. In the long-term, the inability to focus on their family or personal life fosters bad feeling towards the company, with potentially serious repercussions for both parties.
2. Employee autonomy
Empowering employees in a way that matches their skill level and role within the company creates an environment where trust and responsibility thrive. Employees who can influence the way a project is implemented, for example, or how their training is organised, are likely to feel more in control of their working lives and show loyalty towards the company.
Alongside supportive line management and agreement of broad targets and outcomes, providing a degree of autonomy to employees is a healthy way to operate your business.
3. Clear job roles and expectations
Clarity of job role and employer expectations offers stability to employees, and provides the foundation that creates a positive day-to-day workplace experience. In the absence of this, mental well-being can suffer as employees struggle to understand their function within the company and how their role fits in with that of their peers.
4. Acknowledge and reward
Developing a policy of acknowledging and rewarding employees’ efforts on behalf of the company is a simple but effective way to boost mental well-being at work. Recognising and appreciating hard work encourages engagement, and shows employees that they’re valued.
Open and sincere appreciation also raises morale within the work setting, and fosters good working relationships between managers and employees. In practice, this culture of recognition and reward could take the form of simply praising a member of staff in front of their colleagues, or via a more formal event.
5. Flexible working arrangements
The ability to work flexibly plays a significant part in lowering employee stress levels and promoting well-being at work. Flexible working practices include variable starting and finishing times, working from home, compressed hours, and job sharing.
Although historically seen as helping parents and carers meet their individual responsibilities, any employee can now request to work flexibly if they’ve worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks.
6. Positive workplace environment
A positive working environment helps to protect mental well-being and generate increased levels of job satisfaction. But how do you achieve this? Setting realistic deadlines, fostering a culture of inclusivity, and providing resources that promote physical health such as lunchtime exercise classes, all support mental well-being.
Open communication and feedback also play an important part, and encourage employees to talk about issues affecting them at work. The freedom to express their thoughts and ideas without judgement is valuable in promoting mental well-being, whether via problem-solving meetings, focus groups, or performance reviews.
7. Regular breaks
Regular rest breaks throughout the day when employees leave their desks and can ‘switch off’ for a short time helps to prevent the low-level stress that surreptitiously leads to burnout. This is important even when working flexibly from home.
Promoting mental well-being in the workplace doesn’t have to be a costly process – it can simply mean being more aware of the issues that cause stress. The benefits are palpable, however, as it allows an individual to thrive in the workplace rather than simply survive.