3 simple steps to evolving a holistic wellbeing culture at work

Published 9th October 2018 by Charlotte Smith

“I’m fine.”: A phrase said by many, but honestly meant by just a few. This year, Time to Change are urging us all to #AskTwice if we think a friend, family member or colleague might not be ok. This call to action stems from the Mental Health Foundation finding that the average person claims to be ‘fine’ approximately 14 times per day. It is Time to Change’s contention that asking twice is likely to encourage people to drop the façade and be honest as to whether they really are ‘fine’.

This marks a contrast to the focus of last year’s World Mental Health Day (WMHD) which sought to raise awareness of how workplace stresses can impact our mental health at home and at work. In line with this agenda, Time to Change encouraged us to ‘Be in Our Colleagues’ Corner’, a particularly poignant request as our own research conducted earlier this year suggested that just 54% of UK employees would feel comfortable discussing a mental health condition with a colleague.

In a shift for 2018, the official theme of WMHD is this year focussing on young people’s mental health in a changing world. This is an equally important topic as our Managing Mental Health in the Workplace 2018 report proved that the UK’s young workers (18-24 years old) are most likely to say that they’ve experienced a mental health condition at work and at home.

This is where it can be useful to introduce third party support when devising and implementing a new health and wellbeing strategy for your people. So once again, we at Investors in People are setting out how easy it can be to introduce a wellbeing strategy into your workplace.

  1. Think it through. Before embarking on any wellbeing strategy, it’s important that you first plan out what you want your scheme to deliver. Is employee churn a particular issue for you? Or perhaps presenteeism is causing productivity to flounder within your team. Whichever symptom of a poor mental health culture that may be presenting in your organisation, the very first step forward is to take one back and assess where a mental wellbeing strategy could be leveraged most effectively.
  2. Keep it simple. It doesn’t need to be complicated or contrived. Your approach to mental health just needs to address the core areas in your organisation that might be a stress trigger for employees. This could be anything from unrealistically high targets, to poor management. To mitigate this, you might have an open- door policy to senior management a few hours a week where employees can discuss how the organisation is working and where it could be working better.
  3. Lead by example. Often, the biggest challenge when initiating a health and wellbeing strategy is encouraging employees to participate meaningfully. The best way to offset this challenge is to lead by example. If your people see that you are taking care of your own mental wellbeing and switching off your phone at 5.30pm, they’ll feel empowered to make this same step themselves.

The three steps outlined above are a concise guide to taking the often daunting first steps to overhauling, or in many cases, commencing, your organisation’s journey to a cohesive mental health strategy.

If you would like further advice on how Investors in People could support your health and wellbeing efforts, please visit our Health and Wellbeing Award website page for more information: https://www.investorsinpeople.com/solutions-health-wellbeing/