Poor mental health in the workplace costs UK businesses over £8 billion per year. That’s not just because 12.7% of all sickness days are due to mental health problems, but also because when your staff are below par, they are less motivated, less engaged and therefore less productive.
In my experience there is a huge need for businesses and workplaces in general to take staff wellbeing seriously. No organisation can outperform its staff and yet I come across so many that are trying to achieve their aims without investing in their number one asset: their team.
There are some signs that the culture is changing as more and more people recognise that mental health is something we all have: we all have up days and down days. My hope is that leaders recognise that not only can they help create a healthier, happier environment for their staff, they can also hugely improve their bottom line in the process. The fact is that happy staff achieve more. Not only that, they also have an positive effect on other staff because enthusiasm is infectious! Just as negativity and moaning in the workplace can suck all the energy out of your team.
I’d suggest three ways that any organisation can begin to address staff wellbeing effectively:
1. Invest in your middle leaders: the single most significant factor in the engagement of a staff member is their direct line manager. People don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses. If middle leaders are empowered to manage people effectively and compassionately, it makes a huge difference to the morale and wellbeing of the whole company.
2. Consult your staff: Ask your staff about their wellbeing (and respond to what they say!) and involve them where appropriate in decisions that affect them. Just being asked gives people the sense that they are valued. Staff ‘buy-in’ and pride in the organisation as a whole is hugely increased in companies where genuine consultation takes place.
3. Devote at least one training day per year to staff wellbeing: training that equips staff with the tools they need to manage their own health and wellbeing and which also develops the sense of team: being part of and believing in the vision of the company.
Finally – a balanced life is something that I think needs to be modelled at the top of any organisation. Your organisation will tend to reflect your own values and habits. As you do a ‘health check’ on your business don’t forget to do one on yourself.