​How is positive Mental Wellbeing at work achieved?

Date posted:
Mon 18 May 2020

How is positive Mental Wellbeing at work achieved?

Mental Wellbeing asks fundamental questions about how a company is organised and to what purpose. For this reason a policy to protect and promote Mental Wellbeing should be a part of a company’s strategic vision for itself.

Not only does Sequoia Health work alongside the UK’s strongest Healthcare providers such as Bupa, Vitality, AXA PPP, Aviva, Cigna etc; we also work closely with well respected HR providers locally, in High Performance Consultancy (HPC) and more recently Health Consultancy Service, Health @ Work. Both, fantastic organisations aiming to improve, and assist the Health and Wellbeing of employees in businesses across the country.

One thing that is consistent across these organisations is that a commitment to Mental Wellbeing must be high-profile, systematic and persistent. One way in which a business can make a clear statement of intent is to sign the Time To Change Employer Pledge.

One-off gestures and tokenism will only make a (possibly) bad situation worse. A strong Healthcare programme to promote and sustain positive mental wellbeing should include the following actions -

Measure current Mental Wellbeing

Before starting on a Mental Wellbeing programme, measure the existing Mental Wellbeing of employees. Options include using a confidential questionnaire (even a few simple questions can be revelatory) or a more detailed audit such as Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index.

Create a dedicated Mental Health policy

Mental health is too important to be contained in a vaguely worded statement on general employee wellbeing. The policy should clearly explain what the business is doing to foster positive mental wellbeing and provide a clear path for employees to follow if they need to raise an issue. This is where a strong Private Healthcare provision can come into it’s own and pay dividends, as discussed above.

Examine the design of work and workloads

A permanent state of overworking has proven links poor mental health. Also be aware that having too little work has a negative impact. Monotonous and unpleasant tasks (or a lack of variation if such tasks are essential) are also a negative factor. Employees should clearly understand why their work is important, and be consulted on decisions directly affecting their work.

Examine the physical workplace

The condition of the workplace will signal to employees how they are understood and valued by their employer. Air quality, natural light levels, and hygiene standards are some of the most important influences on our mood in the workplace.

Lead by example

The credibility of a Mental Wellbeing programme relies on a clear, unambiguous endorsement from the leadership team. A senior management champion for the programme is recommended.

Engage with employees

There are two important elements here:

  • Communication around the actual delivery of a company mental health programme so that employees know how to access company Healthcare schemes, what is to happen, see it happening, and accept the programme as a permanent feature of the workplace. Confidentiality to the employee is also key.
  • Continuing communications which support positive mental wellbeing – This includes structured employee appraisals, the setting of clear, attainable objectives, leadership on work-life balance. (Most underperforming companies take a casual and inconsistent approach to such matters)

Some final encouragement

Mental health has long been an issue in the British workplace since the first employee took up their tools. It’s an area of work which has long been crying out for proper recognition from business leaders. However, with continual education in this space and the breaking down of Mental Health stigmas in society as a whole, we are thankfully making huge strides in this area. Getting started may conjure up images of – initially – awkward meetings and long silences as you get the mental health conversation going in your business. Be persistent. Remain open and honest about what you are aiming to achieve. People will respond – and your business will be better for it.

There is a growing body of research into mental health at work. The following selections are notable for their authority and clarity and recommended by us at Sequoia Health.

People Manager’s Guide To Mental Health (2018) – Leading mental health charity Mind and the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD) produced an accessible guide to good mental wellbeing at work.

Health and well-being at work (2018) – The latest edition of the CIPD’s penetrating survey of employee wellbeing. The project includes a detailed analysis of reasons for absence.

The Stevenson-Farmer Review (2017) – This Government-commissioned review of mental health at work fully exposed the cost to British businesses and recommended a series of practicable changes for companies to make.

At A Tipping Point? (2017) – Deloitte sets out the stark financial cost of ignoring mental health at work, and examines the demographic shifts driving workplace mental wellbeing up the agenda.

Mental Health Toolkit For Employers (2016) – Business In The Community and Public Health England provide a comprehensive guide for employers to establish and maintain a mental wellbeing programme.

Sequoia Health provide Private Healthcare Plans, Wellbeing Strategies & Protection.

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