We live in a world where numerous employees in all industries are tackling mental health illnesses. The government reports that approximately 40% of employees struggle with work-related stress, wreaking a negative impact on work culture. Plus, there are those employees who are trying not to let non-work-related stress affect their work. Scott Dylan, co-founder of Fresh Thinking Group, knows that now it’s more important than ever for companies to look after their staff to promote happiness, wellness, and productivity. Luckily, it doesn’t cost a penny to establish healthy approaches to mental wellbeing in the workplace.
When employers talk through concerns with their staff, offer solutions, adapt working hours, allow remote working, and vary staff roles, employees are more likely to produce impressive dividends. If you’re not sure how to make your workplace more flexible, speak directly to your team and ask them what measures they would find helpful. For starters, here are four simple steps that employers can implement to keep morale high.
1) Flexible Hours
Gone are the days of the enforced nine to five. Flexible hours are a win-win for employees and employers – after all, rigid hours can cause stress that sends employee productivity and enthusiasm into decline. No matter how dedicated your team members are, they will have needs outside of their jobs, from childcare arrangements and medical appointments to additional commitments. While some companies are in better positions than others to offer flexible working hours, allowing as much leeway as possible will relieve pressure on staff and help them to build trusting relationships with you.
2) Encourage Openness
Mental health is a sensitive topic, and employees may feel uncomfortable discussing their personal situations. Encourage your team to discuss mental health, and cultivate an environment where there is no stigma around mental health struggles. You could appoint an employee as the go-to individual for mental health concerns. This individual could equip others with resources and make amendments to staff roles as necessary.
3) Foster a Caring Workforce
Build a caring workplace culture by showing each member of staff that they are valued and important. Make sure each person knows that you support their work/life balance by checking that they don’t always work late or skip breaks. It’s also important to listen to employee feedback and act when issues arise. If a team member’s problems go unresolved, they’re more likely to leave. Solve problems before they have a chance to grow.
4) Provide a Break Room
Many employees eat lunch in front of a screen – the same screen that they sit at all day, every day. It’s much healthier for employees to have a separate, screen-free space to take a break and eat lunch. Where possible, provide an attractive break room with facilities so that your team can unwind before returning, refreshed, to their desks. This is especially important for offices where travelling off site is not appealing or practical.
Tips for Employees Who Don’t Have Access to a Break Room
Unfortunately, many offices don’t have space for a break room. If you eat lunch in front of a computer screen, either continuing to work or scrolling through social media, these four tips are for you.
1) Take a Walk
Getting some fresh air will clear your head, boost your mood, and rejuvenate you for the second half of your working day. The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports concludes that leaving your desk to take a half-hour walk a few times each week reduces tension and increases relaxation. Not only is fitting a walk into your working day great for your mental health, but walking is also a solid way to improve your fitness, burn calories, and reduce your risk of developing health conditions.
If you can find a quiet space on your lunch break, indoors or outdoors, you could try meditating. You don’t need to use much of your break – ten minutes is fine. Whether you’re a beginner or have practised meditation before, there are plenty of smartphone apps that will walk you through meditation sessions. Examples include Headspace and Calm. Have a look at two or three to find one that you like. Meditation offers countless health benefits – many spiritual and many scientifically proven. The Harvard Gazette concludes that meditation can help to heal mental and physical conditions, from anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder to irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and psoriasis.
We’re supposed to exercise every day, but slotting a workout in before a long commute often requires an impractical early start. Meanwhile, fitting a workout in after work can mean arriving home later than you’d like and sacrificing time with loved ones. But what about lunchtime workout classes? Many gyms and wellness centres now offer these so that you can fit your workout in and get back to your desk on time for the afternoon’s work. There’s an option for everyone, whether you prefer traditional cardio classes, strength classes, yoga, pilates, tai chi, or body balance.
4) Find a Park
If you’re lucky enough to work near a green space, make the most of your surroundings. Ditch your desk for the greenery. Surrounding yourself with nature while you eat lunch will help you to relax and re-energise for the rest of the working day. Getting away from your screen is a hugely underrated treat for your mental health.
The Importance of Mental Health Support in the Workplace
The NHS reports that mental health issues affect one in four people during their working lives and that 12.7% of all workplace sickness absences are associated with mental health conditions.
Employers have a duty of care to support employees’ health, safety and wellbeing. They must ensure that working environments are safe, protect staff from discrimination, and carry out risk assessments. It’s important to remember that protecting against mental health issues is core to this duty of care.
For more workplace mental health tips, visit Scott Dylan’s blog, where he discusses how to support mental wellbeing while remote working, how to re-introduce staff to the workplace following lockdown, and how to manage a healthy work/life balance.
About Scott Dylan
Scott Dylan is the co-founder and managing partner of Fresh Thinking Group (FTG), an independent, global capital investment agency that acquires and revives businesses. As a private-equity and distressed M&A investor, Scott blends financial strategy with entrepreneurial approaches to transform companies.
With a two-decade background in developing technological solutions, leading companies through acquisition processes, managing buyouts, and directing digital projects, Scott offers invaluable knowledge for companies seeking tailored growth strategies. He mentors business teams of all sizes, focusing on the importance of people-oriented culture and collaboration.
About Fresh Thinking Group
Fresh Thinking Group is a private equity disruptor that acquires and funds struggling businesses, start-up firms, and companies seeking growth strategies. Since its launch in 2018, the Group has rejuvenated and restructured businesses throughout Europe into flourishing firms by forming close group collectives that enable companies to share top-level business functions.
Fresh Thinking Group is based in London, Manchester, and Leeds. Recently funding the acquisitions that include on-demand laundry service Laundrapp, Technology agency Skylab, creative agency Brass, award-winning marketing agency Neon, mobile-development app Cuhu, worldwide delivery provider Caribou, and international full-service logistics company GLB Transport. FTG also funds a series of sector-specific groups, each of which acquires and holds several subsidiaries. These groups include Orb Group, Inc & Co Group, and Inc & Co Property Group.