A few years ago you might have been hard-pressed to find the word ‘wellness’ in business plans, strategies and board papers – how things have changed! The buzzword of the moment, wellness is firmly cemented in most business approaches now, with the benefits of having a mentally and physically fit workforce clear to see.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, so what better time to make sure that living well is at the core of your staff engagement strategy?
A workplace wellness programme doesn’t have to be costly, elaborate or time consuming. Of course, there’s much more to employee health and wellbeing than offering lighter options in the canteen, but small changes can boost your team’s morale immeasurably.
A plan to improve mental health can cover all sorts of things, but these are our top five picks for creating healthy workplaces:
Making eating well an easy task
A good diet can be the first step to maintaining good mental health. Offering free fruit, nuts and seeds instead of cake, chocolate and biscuits can make a big difference to staff wellbeing. Of course, it can’t be treated as a quick fix or be seen as healthiness being ticked of the to-do list; rather, consider it as one aspect of a wider approach. After all, it can’t hurt to give your staff a boost of essential vitamins and it shows you care!
Offering free or discounted gym memberships should help your team be more active, and exercise is proven to support mental health. Many gym groups offer great value corporate packages and encouraging movement – whether it’s 20 minutes on the treadmill before work, a spin class at lunch or some weight training post-shift – is bound to energise your team. Exercise is also shown to improve concentration levels, so you could end up with more efficient workers on your hands, too!
Getting away from desks and into the open air does wonderful things for mental wellbeing. Encouraging your team to feel able to get away from their desks or stations and take a proper break from work. A few minutes of sunshine and fresh air will see employees return feeling energised and raring to go.
If you notice people are staying late to meet deadlines or to keep on top of their to-do list, see what can be done to alleviate pressure and make sure they go home on time – no-one wants an all-nighter!
While not applicable to all types of business, offering flexible working to employees, whether it’s allowing employees to take control of their own working hours, or letting them complete some tasks from home, can be transformational. This doesn’t need to be full-on flexible working (although that does help!) but just an hour here and there can help your team feel supported and valued at work.
Have face-to-face conversations
It can be so easy to default to email or instant messaging programmes. Most workplaces are guilty of it; however, making the time to have proper conversations and listen as much as you talk will deliver dividends in making your team feel part of the business. Take the time to put the kettle on and ask your team members what their personal goals are and how you can help, or even just what they have planned for the weekend. Showing an interest in them as a person and not just an employee will surely make them feel more valued.