Supporting Employee Wellbeing – at an Organizational Level
What is the current status of employee mental wellbeing?
One third of employees in the UK say that work in general makes them feel stressed (Champion Health). Globally, the majority of the world’s employees (57%) are not engaged and are not thriving in their role (Gallup – State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report). Every year 13.7 million working days are lost to work-related stress, anxiety or depression, which costs the UK economy £23.7 billion every year (NICE statistics, quoted by Champion Health). A lack of enjoyment and increased stress levels clearly have far-reaching impacts – from individual wellbeing and development to work output, organizational success and, on a broader level, wider economic impacts. Clearly, employers have a moral duty to care for their employees mental wellbeing. And, rightly so, mental wellbeing is a top priority for many workplaces, but what really makes a difference?
At MWA, we see the impact of workplace wellbeing every day. We talk to professionals in a range of settings, who have varied experiences of workplace stresses. Those employees who are more stressed in their workplace are often far more open to considering new opportunities, in the hope of finding a more balanced position. Employee wellbeing is usually a given priority for employers, but with the increased risk of losing unhappy and overworked employees to new opportunities, employers should be urged to really consider what factors are impacting the wellbeing of their own staff, and how can these be improved.
What are the biggest causes of workplace stress?
Many organizations take great strides in supporting employee wellbeing: offering wellness allowances or fitness incentives, as well as encouraging employees to find a healthy work / life balance. These are all excellent steps to support employees. However, it is important to note that the majority of these management offerings focus on managing mental wellbeing at an individual level. Yet, the predominant causes of workplace stress do not emerge from an individual level. Instead, they are rooted at an organizational level. The top causes of workplace stress include (HSE):
- Workload – too much work or too demanding
- Too much pressure or responsibility in a role
- Lack of managerial support
- Organizational change or uncertainty in their role
- Workplace relationships or bullying
How can an organisation best support its employees’ mental wellbeing?
Consequently, it is vital that employers provide more than just management tools for stress when it occurs. Instead, employers need to set an example and ensure the workplace culture reflects a positive attitude and effort towards workplace mental wellbeing in order to build a resilient and confident work force. We suggest the following six ways to set a precedence at the organizational level for positive mental wellbeing in the workplace:
Model a positive work – life balance from the top of an organization – this allows a culture of balance to come from the top and be accepted at all levels of the company.
Develop incentives for seeking help – when employees do engage in mental wellbeing support and actively seek out help, then rewarding this and recognize it as a positive step is key. This does not need to be a financial reward, but looking into other ways to reward the proactivity if seeking help is key.
Engage in resilience building and teambuilding activities – resilience supports overall wellbeing, and relationships in the workplace are key to success. So, regularly set aside time to be spent on these and your team and organization will be set up to succeed!
Set clear expectations and boundaries – to avoid the stress that accompanies uncertainty in a rule, define people’s roles and duties so there is no ambiguity or confusion.
Actively promote a balanced work – life culture – it is one thing to state that an organization holds work and life balance in high priority, but it is a different thing altogether to put this into practice. Find ways that your company can be actively promoting a balance – be it through workplace flexibility, work – life integration or whatever way this works for your organization!
Monitor employee workload and implement changes – this is the main cause of workplace stress so regularly check in with employees. Have a culture of sharing across teams – seeking help and sharing workload should be seen as a positive. Ensure managers are regularly checking in with their team – this is key in ensuring that workloads are manageable.
Rather than waiting until workplace stress arises, employers should focus on implement methods that will proactively prevent workplace stress before it develops. We hope the above tips help in defining a strategy to support employee mental wellbeing in the workplace.