Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week

Woman working from home near open window

It is reported that 70 million work days are lost each year in the UK due to mental health, which costs business roughly £2.4 billion*. Fortunately, due to increased awareness campaigns and mental health initiatives, more and more businesses are focusing on the wellbeing of their employees.

This week is National Mental Health Awareness Week and is aimed at raising awareness of mental health issues and get us all thinking about our health and wellbeing. It is well publicised that we find it difficult to talk about our mental health, with many finding it hard to open up to friends and colleagues about how they’re feeling and in these current challenging times, with many people isolated from their families, there will no doubt be increased levels of stress, anxiety and worry.

So, in this current situation and with lockdown showing no signs of being lifted any time soon, here’s several ways you can reach out to your employees and encourage mental health awareness at work.

1. Reward and recognition

One of the most effortless, but arguably most effective ways of recognising a job well done, is a simple ‘thank you’. This can range from a short message from a manager, a public show of appreciation in a team meeting or video call or an employee of the month award. And what’s even better, is that it doesn’t cost a penny! Research shows that recognition is more effective at boosting morale and making employees feel valued than an increase in salary and a lack of recognition is the single biggest workplace demotivator. Many companies now provide a reward and recognition initiative as part of their employee benefits package to enable employees to acknowledge each other and the hard work they put in day to day. Just remember, a small ‘thank you’ might not seem a lot to you, but it could make someone’s day!

2. Check in on friends and colleagues

Again, this might seem like a fairly obvious point, but it is also very important. Many employees are now working from home and are isolated from friends and colleagues – people who they might usual turn to in times of struggle or worry. Holding regular virtual coffee breaks or team video calls helps keep your workforce connected and can refocus employees on their role within the business. It also gives people the chance to have a quick chat and relieve some of the stresses they may be experiencing. At Let’s Connect, we’ve implemented a walk and talk, where for half an hour each week, we take a short break from work, get out the house and enjoy a nice chat whilst getting some fresh air. It’s a great way to unwind before the weekend and create that important work-life balance.

3. Encourage wellness initiatives

When employees are active and healthy, they often feel more positive and relaxed, which is why encouraging regular exercise is key to improving mental wellbeing. There are many ways to do this, from Yoga at work classes, walk and talk catchups, step or running challenges and more. With a Technology Benefit, employees can purchase the latest fitness trackers, smartwatches and other fitness tech that promotes a healthy lifestyle.

It’s also important to take regular breaks from work, so employees can stretch their legs and give their eyes a rest from the screen. Remember, in the usual office environment, people would be walking to and from the coffee machine or visiting another colleague’s desk to discuss work.

It can also be beneficial to use some annual leave and take a short break. Many employees are holding on to their holiday in the hope of getting away with their family after lockdown is over, but it also means many employees have yet to have a break from work this year.

Mature woman doing yoga class at home to improve mental wellbeing

4. Offer an EAP

Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) are a way of providing confidential help and support to employees when they need it most. Often provided as part of a wider benefits platform, an EAP service gives people access to all sorts of help, from advice helplines, video appointments and medical advice, counselling, financial help and more. Putting all these services in one place for employees to turn to whenever they need can be a huge weight off their shoulders and ensures they have support 24/7.

5. Work-life balance

And lastly, but by no means least, is making sure employees are able to separate their work and personal life. With lots of employees currently working from the dining table or in the living room it can be difficult to switch off at the end of the day and create that clear divide. Often, the commute to and from our place of work acts as the barrier between work and our personal life, but with this removed, it’s easy for these to overlap. Make sure you encourage your team to stick to their working hours and shut down their computers each night to avoid checking emails or going back to finish off a project.

*Research carried out by Mental Health Foundation.

If you’d like to discuss more about implementing our Technology Benefit within your business, or you’d like to find out more about our other Employee Benefits, why not get in touch today by calling 01527 912 529 or send us an email to [email protected]

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