For those of us lucky enough to have a job – love it or loath it – that job plays a crucial part in our lives. With travelling time (for those not working from home), it probably takes up around half of our daily waking hours.
Work provides us with a source of income; but just as importantly gives us a sense of purpose and achievement; allows us to interact with others; build friendships and can boost our self-esteem. It is essential therefore that work should, as far as possible, be a pleasurable experience; and employers have a responsibility to try and ensure that this is the case.
Poor mental health is now considered to be the main cause of sickness absence in the UK. Outside of the workplace, employees suffer from mental health issues through things like bereavement, relationship breakdowns, childbirth and even the stress caused by today’s cost of living crisis. On top of this where work is a place where employees feel stressed and pressurised into performing, and where they consider their efforts are not appreciated or acknowledged, this too can affect their mental health and wellbeing leading to increased levels of sickness and absenteeism.
Staff wellbeing initiatives can assist employers in meeting their responsibilities to provide a positive working environment where:
- Staff wellbeing is a priority in all areas of business;
- Staff feel included and supported and where they can thrive despite the pressures of everyday life;
- People experiencing mental health difficulties, major life events or juggling caring responsibilities can talk openly without fear of stigma;
- There is good communication and people know what support is available to them to help them stay well at work and how to access it;
- Flexible working is offered where possible; and having a work-life balance is encouraged;
- People know what is expected of them and have an understanding of their job roles and areas of responsibilities;
- A suitable organisational structure is in place and people feel their workloads are reasonable;
- People are given space for growth and development, so they feel able to make a meaningful contribution;
- The culture is inclusive and welcoming, and people feel able to be themselves; and/or bullying, harassment and other forms of discrimination is not tolerated.
If we can achieve this, the benefits to the business can be massive leading to increased staff commitment and productivity; better staff retention; reduced absence levels; a more resilient workforce and an enhanced reputation for the company making it more attractive to prospective candidates.
Clearly, what can be achieved by each individual business will depend on your resources; but even little changes can have a beneficial effect – ask people how they are doing, listen to them, be prepared to engage and explain – As they say, ‘Every Little Helps’!
Sentient can assist with things like undertaking a stress audit or stress risk assessments and our sister company, We are Wellbeing, are always willing to discuss the services they can provide.