Mental health in the workplace is quickly becoming a topic of interest for employers. The UK Workplace Wellbeing Study found that the second biggest challenge which will face employers over the next five years is mental health. 25% of absences at work are because of this very reason, with these numbers expected to be on the low side. This costs employers £26 billion a year. Depression and anxiety can have a huge impact on employees and their job performance, so raising awareness of mental health in the workplace is vital. There are lots of great examples of mental health awareness at work, particularly with large companies taking a leadership role in implementing employee wellbeing strategies.
The incorporation of digital into these strategies, by encouraging employees to download apps is becoming more popular. If businesses take a role in placing employee mental health at the heart of their business strategies, then their workers will feel more valued, happier and ultimately be more productive.
Employers are now focusing more on developing wellbeing strategies to tackle the stigma of mental health. Given many people still do not feel comfortable talking about anxiety or depression, employers have found ways to tackle this. There are online assessments which employees can fill out anonymously, which should help their superiors spot signs of mental health issues.
Employers are also incorporating more physical wellbeing into their strategies- such as by offering yoga classes for employees or discounted gym membership. Some businesses have brought in radical measures to encourage their employees to “switch off” out of hours. For example, in 2011, car company Volkswagen introduced an email blocking system, so employees would not be able to check their emails between 6pm-7:15am the next day and on weekends.
Moreover, certain employers have been providing Fitbits to their employees and encouraging physical competitions between staff. This also helps develop deep bonds between employees. Bringing in mindfulness coach.
There are some great examples of companies developing wellbeing strategies and putting digital at the heart of this- with Crossrail being an excellent example:
Using Public Health England’s “one you” campaign, which has tools and support for people trying to live healthier lives, Crossrail offered its employees online self-assessments and resources. Some of these included apps which would give their employees ideas for exercises, tips to stop smoking, along with health recipes. It also distributed wristbands to employees who work shifts. These monitored their movements when they slept, in order to conduct research on the sleeping patterns of their shift workers.
There are many benefits of having employee wellness at the heart of your business, such as:
By encouraging employees to have healthier lives, both physically and mentally, they will be more focused and motivated at work.
Modern lives are hectic and stressful. Stress increases unhealthy behaviour, which ultimately impacts on anxiety and makes mental health deteriorate. By employers arranging activities such as mindfulness teachers, exercise clubs, or making suggestions for apps to help mental health, employees will feel more relieved of stress both in the workplace and at home.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
We live sedentary lives, so employees must make extra efforts to eat healthily and exercise. This healthy mindset will have positive effects on other aspects of their lives, such as their mental health and mood. There are lots of apps and technologies out there which help track food, suggest healthy recipes and exercise workouts.
It’s clear that having an employee wellness strategy benefits a business. However, the inclusion of digital in this is vital. In the AXA Health Tech & State of the Nation Survey, over 50% of the working adults surveyed said they would wear devices such as Fitbits which would monitor their mental health and highlight symptoms of anxiety and depression. This willingness to get involved in mental health should be jumped on by employers as a way to ultimately increase workforce happiness and productivity.