Mental health is fast becoming a serious issue, and is now the most common cause of ill health and disability across the world and in the UK. Whether the individual suffers from anxiety, depression or stress, the feelings are real and need to be dealt with holistically, both at home and in the workplace.
As difficult situations trickle into our everyday lives, the impact is also being felt at work, mentally and economically. HR departments are experiencing growing pressures of the psychological impact felt amongst employers and employees due to the aforementioned matters. How can you, as a company, support your employees’ mental health with no budget?
Why Must You Incorporate Mental Wellbeing in Your Strategy?
It is believed that 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health concern in our lifetime. This becomes 1 in 6 of us in the workplace. Ill mental health results in absenteeism and if left untreated potentially long-term sick leave.
Discussions around mental health alone aren’t enough to break its surrounding stigma. Rather recognition by an employer that mental health and well-being are actively being dealt with will encourage employees to feel comfortable and supported at work. Promoting mental health and proactively taking the lead creates a happy and productive team that benefits your business as well as the employees themselves.
“But I don’t have a budget for it”.
A lot of businesses, particularly small emerging companies, who have little to no budget, struggle to find ways to incorporate mental health initiatives and understandably so. Whilst some schemes are costly doesn’t mean they all are. Grand ideas might not be in your company’s reach but that doesn’t mean mental wellbeing should be overlooked.
If you’re a small business, here is what you can do to incorporate mental health at work that won’t cost you a penny.
Use the Data you Have Available
Look to indicators in your current workforce. How present are they? How engaged are they? Absenteeism (levels and reasons) are a good measure of the current status of your employees’ mental wellbeing.
You can benchmark these against the national average, or against your usual figures. If they are higher than usual for your company, this is telling you something.
It is also helpful to look to the demographic split in your workforce. What trends can you see forming? Are a particular age group or gender experiencing more or less absenteeism? Or perhaps a specific department is struggling more. For example, a head office environment vs a warehouse. If so, such ‘hot spots’ may need a targeted approach.
Data provides a factual starting point to lead us onto our next tip.
Get Senior Leaders on Board First
Capturing data is useful for leaders so they can draw a link between data based facts, either departmental or demographical, with higher levels of absenteeism.
Absenteeism is a growing cost to most businesses. Work missed due to absence is often absorbed by other employees or doesn’t get done at all. Supportive cultures exist with emotionally intelligent managers who, can lead by example to elevate a stigmatised notion surrounding mental health. In return, such companies will find this encourages and fosters positive behaviour and attitude from employees across the business and reduced absenteeism.
Make the data speak for itself, once leaders see the benefits in having a defined focus on wellbeing you won’t need to be subjective.
Focus On the Value to Employees
What one person values, another may not, therefore spend time finding out what is seen as valuable to your employees. Gym passes, yoga at lunch, and cycle to work schemes might play a significant part in attracting new talent however if they don’t support your staff’s wellbeing they aren’t cost-effective.
Our wellbeing can be covered in many areas including financial, physical, nutritional, lifestyle and emotional and finding out what your employee’s value is beneficial in making the most of existing benefits.
Where views and opinions may be anecdotal, consider running a short online survey to obtain accurate data.
Create a Wellbeing Forum
Dependent on the outcome of your survey, setting up a forum or committee of workplace volunteers who are passionate about mental health can become ‘Wellbeing Champions’ within the company, along with mental health first aiders.
The dynamics of the group would be company specific however a great start would be for the champions to take ownership for the creation of wellbeing solutions. By taking volunteers from across the whole business, it’s a great way of creating buy-in across all departments that are colleague-led and not implemented by senior management.
However, including a senior leader as a ‘Wellbeing Sponsor’ is a good idea, to mediate and give everyone air time surrounding their ideas and concerns.
Host a Wellbeing Day or Week – and not just in mental health awareness week!
As a HR manager, you could suggest that your forum organise a wellbeing event where companies can advertise their benefits to employees in an open environment. This could be as big or small as the company dictates and is a fantastic opportunity to expose employees to wellbeing initiatives in other businesses and where they might be able to seek specific help.
Check the Finer Details of Your Current Wellbeing Providers
Employee Assistance Programs are often not fully utilised, as most employees are unclear of the benefits they provide or they are restricted to senior leaders.
Check if you have the option to change the mix of benefits or negotiate the terms if you can see the usage rates are low. You could also see if there is an option to include more accessible benefits. For example, those that we have on the Everymind app.
Get Involved in Local Initiatives and Have Fun!
Local charity initiatives are a great way for not only team building by supporting mental wellbeing, but are also a rewarding way to give back to the local community.
Perhaps your wellbeing forum could take the reins around the types of activity you take part in. Activities can be a mixture of energetic activities such as a sponsored mountain walk or as therapeutic as painting in a local school or community centre.
The need for inclusivity is important, so be diverse in your thinking by bringing like-minded people together to lift everyone’s spirits.
Remote working comes with difficulties in maintaining a healthy mind. The lines between knowing when to switch off and staying connected have become extremely blurred. As an employer it is important to encourage employees to have boundaries to ensure work and home life is effectively balanced.
Checking in on an employee is far more beneficial than checking up on them. Presenteeism can relate to working from home too, and Zoom fatigue does very little for our motivation and creativity.
Flexibility in the workplace is always highly rated on employee engagement surveys as it can reduce anxiety by having a supportive and flexible approach to working patterns.
Signpost Both Internal & External Support
By using different mediums you can find different avenues to support employees’ mental health with no budget. External channels can be through the likes of Samaritans, Mind or Shout. In workplaces where employees don’t have access to a computer, consider using posters or signal important messages on a payslip.
In utilising your wellbeing champions and mental health first aiders, implement a buddy system. This not only helps current employees but ensures new starters are supported too, particularly if they are being on boarded remotely.
While not everyone feels comfortable using technology, for support at your fingertips an app may be a saving grace. Many wellbeing apps on the market offer free wellbeing activities ranging from meditation, relaxation as well as fitness and nutrition.
The Everymind app is centered around your company and the individual’s needs. We’re offering 3 months free for all companies, with no obligation to sign.