Good mental health and happier staff equate to a more productive workforce. But how do you achieve this? Here we share some practical ideas and tips on how to build a more positive work culture.
In our recent survey, 4 out of 10 people selected 'Anxious thoughts' as the most relevant health topic for them.
Anxiety is our natural response to challenging, scary or stressful situations. It's when we feel nervous, tense, frightened or worried. Your heart can race, you can feel sick and have trouble sleeping.
If you're finding anxious feelings are disrupting your normal life, you may be suffering from anxiety. You can find out more in What is anxiety and what are the symptoms?
People can become trapped into worrying incessantly about the future. Especially if they feel uncertain or vulnerable. The fact the pandemic has no concrete timeline isn't helping. Another route to anxiety lies in obsessing about past actions, and how things may have turned out differently.
Some of this could be work-related. But the news, health concerns, family, relationships, grief, and financial worries can all cause anxiety too.
Anxiety steals the brain away from the present. This means it's harder for people to concentrate, be creative or come up with new ideas.
When you're at work, anxiety can affect your mood and how you relate to other people. This can have a huge impact on workplace productivity.
To avoid being a workplace that breeds anxiety, check out our top tips:
1. Have someone people can talk to
Managers may say they have an 'open door' policy. But it takes a huge amount of effort and worry for someone with anxiety to walk through one. Having impartial colleagues to talk to in confidence could be a more accessible route to discussing mental health issues.
2. Support exercising
When exercise raises the heart rate, it boosts anti-anxiety neurochemicals in the brain. These include serotonin, endocannabinoids, and gamma aminobutyric acid. Exercise also helps regulate the amygdala, the part of the brain which reacts to threats – both real and imaginary. (Source: Harvard Health)
Offering a gym membership as a staff benefit is one solution. Installing showers and lockers at work to encourage cycling or running is another. The government approved Bike2Work scheme can help employees save money when buying a bike. The most important thing is for regular exercise to becomes a routine. Again, you can help this by discouraging or even banning meetings that start or end exceptionally early or later.
3. Set boundaries and encourage breaks
Expecting employees to answer emails or work late outside of set hours is a short-term gain. In the long-term, it leads to a blurring of personal and work life, which in turn can breed anxiety. Anyone working from home is particularly vulnerable to this. The same applies when people eat lunch at their desks rather than taking a break. Or rolling their holiday allowance over from one year to the next.
Have you a staff canteen or café? Or even just a pleasant area outside to sit? Also consider the timing of your holiday year. Perhaps ending it in June rather than January would mean more people would 'use up' their remaining holiday allowance?
However, it is senior management who can have the most impact. If they lead by example, it encourages the rest of the workforce to do the same. This also tests out absence and succession management procedures before any unexpected health crisis arises.
4. Increase your mental health support
A key way to show you genuinely care about your staff's wellbeing is to provide private healthcare. Our accessible, empowering, and credible platform provides your employees with mental health support in their pocket. They can speak to a GP about their health and wellbeing 24/7. Plus, access tools and recommendations from our expert clinicians.
More than 2,000 businesses are already benefitting from our GP-led solution.