Promoting good mental health is a focus for many businesses in the modern workplace, and employers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of mental health as it’s been shown to lead to better resilience, innovation and productivity.

A study sponsored by Vitality, says that the cost of lost productivity due to poor health and wellbeing in the UK, currently stands at around £57 billion. Basically, happy people are the most productive!

So, businesses now need to start putting an equal priority on mental health as with physical health, employers need to consider how to create a working environment where employees feel supported.

However, many strategies and initiatives fail to benefit employees mainly due to the expectation of a quick fix, the focus should be on how people are whilst they are at work, not just making sure they turn up each day. It has been found that implementing long term, sustainable initiatives to support employees is the best approach, so look at the demographic, identify areas where employees are struggling on the whole, provide employees with a choice – what would benefits them the most? And of course, make sure the employees are aware of the benefits (you’d be surprised how many employees aren’t aware of, or don’t use the benefits offered to them!).

Businesses also do need to be aware of the signs of mental health problems within their workforce, it’s not as easy to identify as physical health problem. Awareness could start with having a mental health policy within your handbook, including mental health section in your health and safety policy, having a mental health first aider onsite and providing awareness training to managers in recognising the signs and supporting employees who may be suffering with mental health issues.

So, what can you do promote well-being in the office?

  • Have an open-door culture where management or HR is available, and employees are able to speak honestly about any issues.
  • Ensure your office provides space for both collaboration and concentration, as well as break out spaces where employees can recharge.
  • Encourage and enable physical wellness; offer availability of a gym, encourage a team walk or run once a month, offer a cycle to work scheme.
  • Promote taking breaks – encourage employees to go out at lunch and take a break from their screen!
  • Make sure your employees take their annual leave!
  • Offer healthy snacks to your workforce, have a fruit bowl available to all to encourage healthy eating.
  • Encourage a range of social events across the year to develop teams’ relationships.
  • Actively participate in local charity or community events to support the team culture as well as contributing positively to the community.
  • Offer an Employee Assistance Programme to support with any personal issues your employees may have.
  • Consider any flexible working requests in line with statutory requirements.

Whilst there is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for mental health, the key points outlined here can be a great way to start in promoting a positive attitude towards mental health and supporting employees, creating a culture where mental health can be openly discussed and cared for.