How to improve health and wellbeing in the workplace
Posted by Justine Clarabut on 21 June, 2019
Wellbeing issues at work are increasingly all too common!
In the UK, for example, nearly 1 in 7 people experience mental health issues in the workplace. That’s a scary figure. However, this may come as no surprise.
After all, most people spend the majority of their waking lives at work. High stress, long hours, tough targets, lots of computer-time, difficult colleagues and clients, financial worries, and a poor work-life balance can all take a physical and mental toll.
It’s imperative that staff wellbeing is taken seriously. After all, everyone wins when a workforce is happy and engaged and morale is high and job-satisfaction secured. As a result, productivity soars, sales increase, and sick-leave is kept to a minimum.
How can employees achieve this?
As July 1st marks the start of health information week, we decided to assemble some info of our own on this subject. We want to share 6 simple steps that successfully improve health and wellbeing in the workplace.
1. Practice good all-round self-care
Prevention is better than cure when it comes to maintaining wellbeing.
Essentially, don’t wait for a problem to occur! Steps can be taken to prevent problems happening in the first place. Oftentimes, that means keeping up with scientifically-proven, simple, health-preserving basics:
Eat well, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, maintain a good social life, and avoid drugs and booze.
That might sound overly simplistic. However, when life gets too much, it’s all too easy to stop doing any number of these self-care essentials. Building them into a daily routine will help prevent and alleviate wellbeing-related issues.
2. Take a break
Work can feel overwhelming at times.
There’s simply too much to do and not enough time to do it. Often, it is a case of constantly playing catch up to stay on top of the situation. It can feel relentless and frenetic and downright impossible to sustain!
Taking breaks can seem like an impossible luxury. After all, they’re just not conducive to getting all that work done and non-stop is good for no-one. It’s a recipe for burnout.
Sometimes it takes a good dose of self-discipline! Even the shortest break can make a world of difference. Get away from the computer and into the fresh air. Put the phone down and do something personally gratifying such as reading a book, having a healthy snack, sitting in the sunshine, and generally taking a breather! Doing these things will be sure to improve overall health and wellbeing in the workplace.
3. Maintain a positive work/life balance
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Everyone can attest to the truth of this classic saying! It’s vital to have a life outside work.
Sure, overtime may be necessary every now and again. Wherever possible, turn off the computer and try to leave the office at a reasonable time.
Try organising fun things to do in the evenings and weekends too! Join a social club, sports team, yoga class, and any other activity of interest. Meet up with friends and family and if you can, book a holiday or short break. Learning new hobbies are a great way to alleviate stress and tension too.
Doing these things will imbue life with a greater sense of meaning, purpose and happiness to take forward into the working week.
The communication of wellbeing needs at work is of real importance.
Unfortunately, it often feels difficult to do.
People can be wary of ‘complaining’ about their wellbeing needs. They might feel apprehensive about telling their employer, ashamed of the need for support, and/or uncertain about the potential repercussions.
However, communication of any physical or mental issue is key to receiving help. All employers have a responsibility to support the wellbeing of their staff. But they need to know the situation in order to do it. A one-to-one session with a line manager can make a significant positive difference.
Equally, encouraging these conversations helps create an atmosphere of openness and tolerance in the workplace. Over time, this cultivates a company culture of acceptance and openness.
5. Utilise employee support
However, sometimes people aren’t ready to have such an open chat.
If that’s the case, then the operation of employee support schemes can be a great alternative. For example, many employers provide free-to-use employee assistance programmes. These are confidential counselling services by phone which are available 24/7/365.
Employee assistance programmes provide professional support for any issues that someone may experience. (Issues can be home/personal or work-related) The person on the other end of the phone listens and offers guidance in-line with needs. They might also signpost or refer people to particular services in the process.
If nothing like this is in place, then organisations should think hard about getting them set up. They can provide a vital life-line to anyone that needs them. It is also paramount to improving overall health and wellbeing in the workplace.
6. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is non-judgmental awareness of the present-moment.
It’s a form of meditation that’s become increasingly popular in recent years. Countless people now practice it every day in support of all manner of physical and mental struggles. Among its many known benefits, mindfulness is scientifically proven to help relieve pain, reduce stress, and ease anxiety.
By focusing on a sensory experience, such as breathing, attention is brought firmly into the here-and-now. Worries and concerns get side-lined as people ground themselves in the reality of the moment.
Practicing mindfulness for 10 minutes each day, or in the midst of a tough situation, can make a big difference to overall wellbeing.
Time to make workplace wellbeing a priority
People owe it to themselves to look after their health and happiness.
And as we’ve talked about, that’s particularly true in the workplace, where physical and mental wellbeing challenges are increasingly common. Hopefully, the information above has provided some useful guidance on how to stay well and seek support.
However, as important as it is to take care of ourselves, employers have a significant role to play too.
In order to improve health and wellbeing in the workplace, having the right systems, policies, procedures and protection in place is vital to supporting employee wellbeing.
Wellbeing People are experts at helping employers in this endeavour. Through an initial consultation and audit process, Wellbeing People work with businesses and organisations to build, and/or achieve, their health and wellbeing strategy. Delivering wellbeing programs are a positive way to help employees adopt and maintain healthy behaviours.
Take our free online Wellbeing Audit questionnaire to find out the health of your organisation – it takes less than 10 minutes!