Wellbeing. Mental health. Wellness.
We all want to do the right thing, but it can be hard to know where to start.
How can we create a culture of wellbeing during a time when so many other areas of focus in a business are both important and urgent, and budgets aren’t necessarily where they were a year ago?
The fact is that if you called a meeting of six people in your business, at any given time one of them is probably experiencing a common mental health problem. Over a year, that rises to 1 in 4. Apart from the moral imperative, it also makes good business sense. A recent Deloitte report showed that the average return on investment for mental health investment is £5 for every £1 spent, and can be as high as 11:1.
The good news? It does not need to be time-consuming, expensive or scary to make progress on building a culture of wellbeing. We’ll share 8 steps here to get you going.
Tip one – get committed
Be honest with yourself. Do you really believe in making a change in this area? The difference between a genuine desire to make progress as opposed to paying lip service will be visible to your team.
Tip two – power in numbers
This is potentially THE takeaway tip here. You can’t do everything alone – ask for help!
I guarantee that buried in your organisation will be a group of people who are passionate about this topic, whether because of lived experience or simply due to a desire to help people around them. Facilitate a working group made up of these home-grown champions, and you’ll automatically have greater buy-in and resource to fuel forthcoming initiatives.
Tip three – ask the audience
Once you’re committed and you’ve got your working group in place, it’s time to put yourself in the shoes of your people. Are workloads unrealistic? Are breaks quietly discouraged? Can you be your whole self? A survey or a series of focus groups is a great way to listen to your team and get some data.
Tip four – be strategic
The data from tip three will tell you which areas need focus, or that can make the biggest difference to the wellbeing of your team. This is great news! You can use these to build a strategy- identifying some goals you’d like your wellbeing activity to achieve. Focussing in on a few areas where you can really move the dial is a much better use of time than a scatter gun approach!
Tip five – don’t reinvent the wheel
More good news – there is SO much support and resource out there which can be accessed at low cost or for free. It’s the solid, proven interventions and ideas you need to look out for – charities like Mind and Samaritans provide leaflets, articles and training through their websites. Why not set up some lunch and learns and get together as a team to explore these?
Tip six – provide, don’t prescribe
No one likes being told what to do or think, so avoid ‘one size fits all’ approaches here. Instead, ensure that there is a wide range of sources of support and advice easily accessible when people need them. This could be an intranet page, posters around the staff areas and in toilets, or having key links in email signatures. Essentially, if one of your team is struggling, they don’t want to do a mental assault course to get to something which might help.
Tip seven – walk the talk
Remember tip one? It’s so important that your commitment is visible, and that your behaviour is consistent. Offering resources on stress and burnout, while simultaneously piling on the work to overloaded team members simply doesn’t make sense. Nor does encouraging people to get active and improve their physical health, if you have an ‘always on’ approach to emails and messages.
As a leader, you can also help to support your managers in role modelling too, empowering them to make healthy choices which will then be seen by their team members as a visible reminder that your organisation is taking the importance of wellbeing seriously.