The past year has been one of the most challenging we’ve experienced in our personal and professional lifetimes. With 50 per cent of people in the UK re porting not being happy with their current work-life balance and 60 per cent feeling more fatigued since the pandemic (1), it’s no wonder we’ve seen more call for mental health support than ever before.
Unlike the pandemic, mental health is something we can do something about. As professionals in the healthcare and wellbeing industry, we know there are indeed real benefits for businesses in protecting their people’s mental wellbeing. On average for every £1 spent on mental health interventions, employers can expect to see £5 return in the form of increased presenteeism, with absenteeism and staff turnover also being reduced 2.
More than ever, businesses are becoming aware of the need to support their people’s mental wellbeing. But they’re also realising the benefits of prevention and early intervention, to prevent longer-term, more serious concerns. But do we practise what we preach?
As these uncertain times continue, it’s vitally important that we, as a health and wellbeing industry, support both our own, and our people’s wellbeing. As we all know too well, people are the backbone of our businesses and keeping them well should be our priority.
So what are some of the practical tips we should all be thinking about in the months ahead?
- Check in with yourself: The best way to support others is to support yourself first. This sense check can alert us to where support may be required for ourselves. How often do we follow the advice that we give others?
- Be agile: Be prepared to change tack. The fluidity of this situation means that leaders have to be resilient and adapt to changes in a flexible way. Admitting we don’t have all the answers but are working to find them feels uncomfortable and perhaps even risky but it’s both genuine and honest.
- Be clear: Communicate regularly with your people and be clear what is expected in your business. Set guidelines and expectations so that your people will understand where things are going and what is expected of them.
- Be a role model: Model positive behaviours, genuine interest and empathy. These behaviours signal to managers what is expected of them too and how they can bring these behaviours to their teams.
- Encourage development: Understand the skills and capabilities in your people. Resilience, confidence, coaching, as well as wellbeing awareness, are all essential capabilities that can be developed.
- Appreciate differences: Don’t expect everyone to be the same. In the same vein it is unrealistic for everyone to cope equally, levels of resilience, experience and skillset vary, and we should remember that past coping is no predictor of future coping.
- Be aware: While home working has an advantage of flexibility, it can become omnipresent, and overshadow normal home life. The balance between overwork and flexibility is a fine margin and we should all be aware of this.
- Be present: Keeping in touch needs to be encouraged so people can talk to each other, share ideas, frustrations and, most importantly, support each other.
In our world, we talk about the importance of health and wellbeing all the time, but how often are we stopping to check in on our own team? By making this a focus over the next few months, we can all be in a better position to navigate this journey ahead, together.
Visit our webinar to find out more about why mental wellbeing matters for business health, and how you can help your people build ongoing resilience: www.axahealth.co.uk/ managingmentalhealth
1() Working at Home Wellbeing Survey, Institute of Employment Studies, April 2020. 2 Mental health and employers: refreshing the case for investment, Deloitte, January 2020