Here’s an astonishing fact for you.
Last year in this country a total of 15.4 million working days were lost to stress.
According to the HSE, nearly 600,000 workers were affected by work-related stress, anxiety or depression, with 44 per cent blaming the pressures workload for their condition.
In uncertain times, of course, stress can become an even greater problem than it already is. Change, the threat of the unknown and uncertainty in the wider world all create increased anxiety.
So what should you be doing now to ensure your workforce’s wellbeing?
A good starting point is to assess your organisation’s mental health so that you have a clear picture of what the priorities are.
Whilst doing this, take the opportunity to assess the company’s own attitude to wellbeing and assess just what sort of culture you have at work.
If staff don’t feel comfortable asking questions and raising issues – either through one-to-ones, team meetings, confidential surveys or other forms of assessment – you need to change things so that they are.
You will only be able to manage effectively once staff know you have an inclusive, open culture which encourages staff to speak out, ask for help and be themselves.
To do this, you’ll need to train up your senior managers to deal with mental health issues and be able to respond appropriately when staff turn to them for help. You can create something of a virtuous circle here by publicising the steps you are taking to train managers – thereby emphasising your commitment to an open culture and encouraging more people to speak out about their own experiences.
You also need to look at your policies and procedures.
Does your company do everything it can to foster a good work-life balance? Do you allow flexible working where possible? Are staff encouraged to finish on time and not work overlong hours? Are they expected to take work home with them?
Even simple things, such as encouraging regular screen breaks, making sure staff take their lunch hours and the provision of wellbeing initiatives can make a huge difference both to stress levels and workplace culture.
That way, when unexpected change does come, your workers are well placed to deal with it healthily.
And once you have done all this, make sure you routinely monitor wellbeing. Keep the conversations around mental health going and assess which initiatives are working and which are less effective.
Again, staff are likely to respond positively to the very fact that you are putting their wellbeing at the top of your workplace agenda at a time when it is coming under such pressure.
And remember, you don’t have to do this on your own. If you want expert guidance on what does – and does not – work, we are always happy to help. Just click on the button for a free consultation.