During this Mental Health Awareness Week, people are taking more time to think about their personal wellbeing at home and in the workplace. Being happy and motivated at work can help employees to stay focused, engaged and ultimately be more productive. With that in mind, some are asking whether employers are doing enough to support the health and wellness of their employees.
Wellbeing includes physical health and mental wellbeing. When employees enjoy their job and feel valued, they have better physical and mental health. Having autonomy, feeling supported and having a positive work-life balance are key factors in obtaining good physical and mental health for your employees in the workplace.
But how serious is the situation right now when it comes to workplace wellbeing, and can companies do more to help their staff?
The facts and figures
Employees in the UK workforce often face difficulties around maintaining a high level of wellbeing whilst going about their job. In fact, one recent study found that a staggering 79% of UK employees commonly experience work-related stress.
Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Champion Health found that 2020 was a particularly bad year for employee wellbeing. Around two-thirds of employees reported symptoms of anxiety and over 70% said that they had trouble relaxing. Over half of employees surveyed said that they had experienced at least mild symptoms of depression in the last year.
Of UK workers loose sleep due to work-related stress
Say that daily stress affects their concentration at work
The impact of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised new concerns about employee wellbeing, as teams have had to adjust to a disrupted working schedule, working from home and being away from their colleagues.
A study by Perkbox revealed that 93% of UK employees have faced new wellbeing challenges since the start of the pandemic and that the most common ones were focused around feeling less connected to company and colleagues, increased feelings of isolation and growing financial concerns.
Big changes, like an increase in time spent working from home, have brought added complications, and pressures, most notably in changes to work-life balance and have had a negative impact on both physical and mental health. A survey by Forbes found that workers who were working from home more often had a higher chance of becoming burnt out than colleagues who were in the office. Research from the RSPH even found that 46% of UK employees did less exercise after they had switched to working from home.
Support wellbeing and improve workplace productivity
Changes to the working environment have led to more employees pushing their employers to make big changes in order to improve company-wide wellbeing. A survey from CoursesOnline found that 66% of employees now think that recent events will mean that mental health will play a bigger role in the workplace.
Employers are beginning to listen, as the CIPD found that 44% of organisations are now taking a strategic approach to employee wellbeing by having a standalone wellbeing strategy. It found that more organisations are trying to take a holistic approach regarding the health of their employees, with mental health being the most common priority.
This is partly because wellbeing can actually be a crucial driver of productivity. Reports from RAND Europe have linked low levels of employee engagement and wellbeing with a decrease in productivity. Employees lose around 14% of their working hours to absence or presenteeism (being at your desk or online but producing low-quality work), and their report linked this phenomenon to low engagement at work and poor mental and physical health.
What can employers do to help?
Implementing practical systems such as flexible working, training, allowing employees to be part of decision-making, and providing teamwork opportunities may benefit overall wellbeing. Promoting teamwork can aid productivity and achieve organisational goals.
Leaders who can inspire, model healthy working practice and work-life balance, and demonstrate positive interpersonal skills and relationship management can help embed a culture of wellness in their employees.
Case studies from the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) show that workplace wellness programmes can deliver benefits in terms of enhanced productivity. To maximise the potential of these programmes, it’s recommended that they should be tailored to the specific organisation and include senior management support.
According to a survey by Perkbox, work from home policies (39%), flexible working hours (37%) and regular one to ones between employees and managers (37%) are the most common measures in place by companies to help manage workplace stress.
Other tips like building in time for employees to take regular breaks throughout the day and encouraging them to be social with their team can go a long way to improving their wellbeing.
Maintaining your employees’ health and wellbeing is an excellent way to boost retention, improve employee engagement and increase productivity. If done well, companies could see drops in sickness absence, lower levels of presenteeism and create a positive culture of wellbeing.
If you’re keen to keep your workforce engaged and rewarded, why not explore our range of dedicated Workforce Training courses that could help your team get the skills they need and help your company bounce back better than ever.