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Advice for employers

The well-being of your staff is very important in making your business a success. Whether you’re a large, corporate company, or a smaller business, the mental health of your employees needs your attention.

We spend much of our lives at work (estimated around 12 years, while the commute is thought to take 588 days) and so, our health and happiness in our role should be taken seriously. While self-care and work/life balance primarily comes from the individual, it should be on the minds of companies too.

Tips to support employees

There are many benefits for companies to encourage work/life balance, from happy staff and increased productivity, to reduced leave costs and less sick days.

Whether you already have a policy or are looking to start from scratch, there are many ways you can encourage work/life balance in your company.

Below are our tips on how you can support your employees.

Promote the message

The first thing to do is introduce the message of work/life balance to everyone in the office. Inform them that this is a key focus in the workplace, and encourage speaking up if anyone is struggling with their workload, or with anything else in their life. 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 that acknowledge and raise awareness of the link between work-related stress and mental health is important. Policies should include information about the support available, the process and who to speak to, should employees 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 granted appointment allowance for the dentist, it should reflect for a counselling session?

Encourage a culture of openness

Within your workplace, encourage a culture of openness. Openness about time constraints, workload and employees’ mental health. It’s important that staff feel comfortable about speaking up if they are being asked too much of, or if they need a day or two off to focus on self-care or their mental health.

Provide training for managers

Knowing the signs of work-related stress and poor work/life balance can be very beneficial in maintaining the health of, and supporting, employees. Training should be provided to all managerial staff; raising awareness of the symptoms and causes of work-related stress and burnout, and the steps to take should they feel concerned.

There should also be a process for managers who may be experiencing stress or lack balance. Everybody in the workplace should have the opportunity to seek support if needed.

Encourage breaks 

When swamped with deadlines, you may see employees staying late, or working through their lunch. One way to encourage taking a break is to set certain times for lunch, or coffee breaks.

It is suggested that top performers work solidly for 52 minutes, before taking a 17-minute break. When was the last time you got up from your desk for a break?

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 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 suggest that teams head to the local coffee shop for their weekly meeting, or even try a walking meeting.

If you can offer remote working, this again is a great way to support employees and encourage work/life balance. Tony Boatman from QNNect, reveals that employees that work remotely tend to be 13% more efficient than those that work full-time in the office. 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.

Mandatory holiday

Introducing an emphasis on working well during contracted hours, rather than putting in extra time at home/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 weekends, 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.

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