Whether you’re a large, corporate company or a smaller business, the mental health and well-being of your employees needs your attention. Here we look at some tips for employers to ensure their workforce are happy and healthy.
Promote the message
A great first step is is introduce the message of work/life balance to everyone in the company. Inform them that this is a key focus in your organisation and encourage employees to speak up if they are struggling with their workload, or other stressors outside of work. Employees often think they can’t bring their problems to work but, if there is a support network available, they can take steps to manage the problem, rather than keeping it to themselves.
Develop mental health policies
Having policies in place that acknowledge and raise awareness of the link between work-related stress and mental health is key. These policies can include information about the support available and the process employees should follow if they need help.
Allow staff to attend counselling and support services during working hours: mental health is just as important as physical health. So, should an employee be offered appointment allowance for the dentist, aim to offer the same for a counselling session.
Encourage a culture of openness
Within your workplace, encourage a culture of openness. This includes openness about time constraints, workload and employees’ mental health. It’s important that staff feel comfortable about speaking up if they are struggling or if they need time off to focus on their mental health.
Provide training for managers
Knowing the signs of work-related stress and poor work/life balance can be very beneficial in supporting employees. Training could be provided to all managerial staff; raising awareness of the symptoms and causes of work-related stress and the steps to take if they are concerned.
Ensure that there's also a process in place for managers who may be experiencing stress. Everybody in the workplace should have the opportunity to seek support if needed.
When swamped with deadlines, you may notice employees working late or through their lunch. One way to encourage taking a break is to set certain times for lunch, or coffee breaks.
Our lunch hour is the time to take a moment away from our responsibilities and give our minds a rest, before another afternoon of working. Encouraging employees to eat lunch away from their workspaces and get some fresh air is essential for good well-being, but also helps boost afternoon productivity.
Consider flexible working
How flexible you can be will depend on the industry, but offering flexible working can be a great way to support employees and promote work/life balance. If your office hours are 9 - 5pm, consider introducing flexitime, so staff are able to avoid the traffic, or even catch up on some much-needed sleep. An extra 30 minutes can go a long way.
Perhaps you can change up how you do meetings. A change of scenery is sometimes the best way to get motivated, so why not suggest teams head to the local coffee shop for their weekly meeting, or even try a walking meeting?
If you can offer remote working, this is a great way to support employees and encourage work/life balance. Remote working can ease some of the pressures that come with working in an office, while also allowing staff to allocate their time and tasks to their own schedule.
It’s time to recognise our differences and ditch the one-size-fits all approach.
- Read more about taking an individual approach to work
Introducing an emphasis on working well during contracted hours, rather than putting in extra time after hours is another way to encourage work/life balance. Daily breaks, weekends and holidays are essential in combating burnout and is one of the most important aspects of staying productive at work.
In your workplace, encourage work-free time off, set rules against contacting employees with work-related queries out of hours, and encourage holidays. Stepping away for a week or two to completely unwind is not only beneficial for health and mental well-being, but it’s also a great way to come back feeling refreshed, inspired and keen to work.
Try staff coaching
Sometimes it can be helpful to call in some expert help. Staff coaching can help your team in a number of ways including supporting them to develop better time management skills, manage work-related stress and set healthy boundaries.