Mental health is something we all need to be aware of in the workplace. With one in six British workers affected by problems like anxiety, depression and stress every year, it’s not surprising when a company invests in its staff, it gains rewards in staff loyalty and commitment to the job.
So, how can an employer help your staff have a more positive mental health attitude and know the risk factors?
According to the Mental Health Foundation, there are signs you can spot at work:
- Being more tired than usual
- Making uncharacteristic mistakes
- Finding it hard to motivate others
- Timekeeping slipping
- Trying to isolate themselves from others
- Speeding up and becoming more chaotic
- Intruding in other people’s conversations
People talking about mental health is getting better, but it still has a long way to go. There is still the worry that they will be judged for their mental health or discriminated against for it. So as an employer how can you create the right atmosphere to help your staff with their mental health? How can line managers help?
Keep Staff Active
Mental health services suggest that regular exercise is proven to help those who are at risk of depression and anxiety. It can boost self-esteem, help with concentration, and sleep and generally improve health and well-being.
As an employer, you can’t force your staff to exercise, but you can make it easier for them to do so. Allowing them an hour lunch break can enable staff to take a walk after eating lunch, or you can introduce a bike-to-work scheme, a social exercise group like running or cycling on lunch breaks or after work. There are plenty of ways to help without any physical changes to the workspace.
However, there are changes within the office which can help too. Simple adjustments like Sit-Stand desks where the user can adjust the height to amend their position throughout the day. This slight adjustment has also proven to help with productivity across the day.
Installing a small gym in an unused room or area can help your staff get that exercise in without feeling like they are going out of their way to try and fit it in. Just 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week can really help, and an on-site gym can make it easier for them to do this on their lunch break.
The Right Break Space
It’s impossible to keep 100% focused all day, every day. When you work in an office, you’re often staring at a computer screen and that can be mentally exhausting. If you’re working in a customer-facing environment, it’s mentally exhausting to be putting on a happy face when you’re not feeling your best.
Ensuring your staff have a good space to get away from their desks and customers will help recharge and refocus them, providing a fresh boost of energy to be more productive for the rest of the working day.
These spaces could include a soft seating area, a games room, and anything that is welcoming and has enough space to accommodate the staff who use it at the same time. Engage with your staff to ask them what they want in a breakout area. Would they benefit from soft seating, would they rather have a larger table so everyone can get around it or would they rather have multiple tables if it’s a larger company with lots of departments? Do they have any hobbies that could easily be incorporated?
As a company, you could provide mental health days, where staff can take a day off with no questions asked to look after their own wellbeing.
Simple things like taking holiday can be hard for some. They feel they still need to keep on top of work emails and deal with issues whilst they are away from the office. This does not allow them to fully recharge as they are still dealing with the stress of the office, only now they are doing it on their personal time.
Creating the Right Work Environment
Your staff work hard and need the right environment to be able to do their jobs. As much as APSS promotes making the workspace attractive and fun to work in, if you don’t have the basics in place, you are going to be off to a non-starter.
Having an open-plan office design is great for teamwork and knowing what’s going on around you, but they can get rather noisy at times. By creating a few quieter working areas, like a bookable private hot desk, staff will have the flexibility to get away from the noise and concentrate on their project, helping reduce personal stress levels and improve productivity.
Office temperature can also be a big influencer (and as we all know, it’s hard to please everyone). When the workplace is too hot, staff quickly become demotivated, frustrated, and lethargic.
When it’s too cold, people physically slow down, lowering productivity as well as the ability to focus, especially if they don’t have an active job. Ensuring you have the right sort of air conditioning (HVAC) system and keeping it maintained will help your workplace remain at a temperature you feel is appropriate.
However, as we all know, you can’t please everyone when it comes to the temperature, and we are sure there will still be at least one person saying it’s too hot whilst another says it’s too cold.
Boosting Natural Light in the Workplace
Natural light is a great way to help improve motivation and well-being. By maximising natural light in the workplace, you can help reduce issues including headaches, eyestrain and blurred vision by up to 84%. It promotes vitamin D, which combats depression and diabetes amongst other things and it also helps to provide a connection to the outside natural world.
Installing skylights, larger windows and curtain walling in a building can quickly become costly. However, by switching solid walls with glass partitions, you can easily expand the reach of natural light. If you’re worried about privacy, on-brand manifestations will still let the light in whilst preventing peering eyes. Simply, by better planning the space in your office, you can shuffle the layout to allow staff to have more access to natural light.
In the winter, the days get shorter and it’s harder to utilise the natural light. Installing LED lighting reduces harsh lighting and appears as bright white light, just like daylight. It’s the next best thing to the sun.