Bev Markland, chief people officer at Agilitas, shares tips on supporting employees both at work and at home.
- Hybrid work is not just a buzzword but the future of our working model.
- Productivity and mental health are inextricably linked, so investing in staff well-being is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do for the business’s bottom line.
- Creating an inclusive and productive work environment is critical in today’s era of hybrid working.
Creating an inclusive and productive work environment that fosters a culture which both values mental health and provides support for employees is critical in today’s era of hybrid working. Mental well-being is just as important as physical health, and organisations must begin to treat it as such.
Mental Health Awareness Week takes place each year in several countries, including the UK, Canada, and Australia. Its mission is to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. From 15 to 21 of May, it is hoped the Mental Health Awareness Week campaign will encourage people to talk about and promote mental well-being, with ‘anxiety’ being this year’s theme.
Increasing importance of workplace mental health
Productivity and mental health are inextricably linked. Poor mental well-being, most commonly manifested as depression, anxiety, or burnout, can significantly reduce motivation and production while increasing stress. According to a Deloitte report, organisations that prioritise mental health are twice as likely to report better financial performance than those that do not.
Therefore, investing in staff well-being is not only the right thing to do, but it is also the smart thing to do for the business’s bottom line. Addressing these issues in the workplace can increase productivity, improve attendance at work, help with decision-making, and foster a more positive workplace culture.
By taking part in Mental Health Awareness Week, businesses can also help to raise awareness of mental health issues and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. This can aid in the development of a more supportive and inclusive workplace culture, which benefits both employees and the company.
It gives companies a platform to encourage staff to take care of their mental health. This can include providing resources and support, such as counselling or mindfulness training, as well as encouraging healthy habits such as exercise and self-care.
Putting the theory into practice
In a McKinsey survey from 2020, 91% of employees stated that they believed their employers should care about their emotional health, and 85% believed behavioural health benefits are important when considering a new job. In fact, when asked to rank the benefits of a new job offer, respondents ranked on-demand mental health support second only to corporate wellness initiatives. These statistics suggest that companies that prioritise mental health awareness can improve their EVP (Employee Value Proposition) and employer brand, as well as attract and retain top talent.
With this in mind, at Agilitas, we will be hosting training for our line managers throughout May, to help support their teams with their mental health and well-being. In addition, we have trained a number of our employees as Wellbeing Ambassadors and we actively encourage our employees to talk to line managers, HR and our EAP Scheme. We also work actively with our employees to engage in successful returns to work following mental health-related absences.
Additionally, we recently held an employee well-being workshop called ‘Discovering Me’ which focused on mindset growth and imposter syndrome. In May, our well-being workshop will focus on ‘Finding my Limit’ to support our employees to better understand and manage feelings of stress and anxiety. We have found that, by creating a supportive workplace culture that promotes mental health, we can differentiate ourselves from our competitors and create a positive reputation as an employer that cares about staff well-being.
Supporting employee well-being at work and at home
Hybrid work is not just a buzzword – it is the future of our working model. The pandemic significantly accelerated remote work adoption and demonstrated that it can be just as effective, if not more so, than traditional office-based work.
As it combines the flexibility and autonomy of remote work with the collaboration and socialisation of in-person work, hybrid work has enabled businesses to attract and retain top talent while improving staff well-being and productivity. Supporting employees is essential for creating a positive work environment, and there are a number of ways to support employee well-being both at work and at home:
Encourage work-life balance
A 2021 survey found that 39% of people consider work-life balance to be their biggest challenge in the workplace. Companies work with employees to prioritise their personal lives by providing flexible schedules, encouraging breaks, and respecting personal time. Ensuring employees take vacation time and avoid sending work-related emails after hours can help reduce burnout and anxiety.
Provide resources for mental health
Employers should also consider providing resources such as employee assistance programmes, mental health counselling, and support groups to their employees. Awareness training and education, as well as making mental health issues a priority, is critical, especially since 70% of employees reported that the COVID-19 pandemic was the most stressful time in their career, with mental well-being concerns playing a significant role.
Promote physical health
Employees can be encouraged to prioritise their physical health by providing resources such as gym memberships, healthy snacks, and ergonomic equipment. To encourage healthy habits, they can consider hosting wellness challenges and fitness events, as physical health issues significantly increase the likelihood of developing mental health challenges. At Agilitas, we’re encouraging our employees to get outdoors this month and to join in with ‘Walk this May’ as part of National Walking Month. We’re also engaging with our local gym to explore group physical training and coaching to help our employee’s well-being.
Foster positive relationships
Creating a supportive and inclusive work environment through team-building activities, open communication, and promptly addressing any issues or conflicts can help build an engaged workforce while establishing a strong employer brand. According to Gallup’s employee engagement report, companies with employees who are highly engaged are 21% more profitable in the long term.
Support career development
Companies that offer career development opportunities and training, as well as encourage employees to pursue their passions and interests, can foster a nurturing environment in which employees can thrive. As 41% of employees consider their organisation’s career advancement opportunities a very important factor in their job satisfaction, providing mentorship and coaching to help employees achieve their career goals is now crucial.
Fostering a culture of communication
Business leaders need to set a good example when it comes to open communication by actively listening, providing feedback, and being honest with their teams. They can encourage employees to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns by establishing feedback mechanisms. By doing this, organisations can foster trust and transparency by sharing information about company goals, strategies, and decisions with employees. At Agilitas, we have recently engaged with a third-party company to better communicate and work with our employees as part of our long-term people strategy.
Encouraging collaboration and teamwork by forming cross-functional teams, promoting knowledge-sharing, and recognising and rewarding team accomplishments, are valuable tools to promote communication. Moreover, providing employees with the training and resources they need to improve their communication skills, such as conflict resolution, active listening, and effective feedback, can go a long way towards fostering a communication culture.
Effective communication is also essential in promoting workplace mental health and well-being. A communication culture that encourages employees to express their feelings, concerns, and challenges can help reduce stigma, as people are more likely to seek help and support when they feel comfortable discussing their mental health.
The opinions of guest authors are their own and do not necessarily represent those of SG Voice.