The pandemic and subsequent social isolation have shed new light on the importance of mental health in the UK workplace. With mental health issues becoming a common concern, companies are now asking: do employee benefits programmes that focus on mental well-being truly improve productivity and team morale? The short answer, backed by an increasing body of research, is yes. When employees’ mental health is prioritised, we see a substantial positive impact on productivity, job satisfaction, and employee retention. This blog explores how to recharge productivity by harnessing mental health benefits in your organisation.
The Power of Work-Related Mental Health Benefits
Mental health benefits have the potential to be a game-changer in the workforce. Given the adverse effects of the pandemic, employees are wrestling with increased anxiety and poor mental health. A recent study by Deloitte shows that mental health problems and associated presenteeism (employees showing up to work despite their health conditions) cost UK businesses an estimated £45 billion a year, an increase of 16% since 2016.
In contrast, companies that provide robust mental health support, from EAPs (Employee Assistance Programmes) to health insurance that covers psychiatrists and other mental health treatment, see a noticeable improvement in overall workforce wellbeing. These employees report better job performance, good mental health, and a healthier lifestyle, which translates into lower absenteeism rates and higher job satisfaction.
Additionally, these benefits extend beyond the individual. When one employee feels supported in their mental well-being, it can have a ripple effect across the entire team, improving the general wellbeing of the collective workforce and enhancing company culture.
Industry Insights: How UK Companies are Leveraging Mental Health Benefits to Increase Productivity
UK companies are leading the charge in promoting employee mental health, implementing inclusive mental health policies and programmes that have a real-world impact on their employees’ lives. Many organisations have offered flexible working hours and childcare support to balance work-life challenges during the pandemic, contributing significantly to the good mental health of their workforce.
Others have offered physical health benefits like gym memberships, which contribute to the mental wellness of their employees. Regular exercise is proven to combat mental health problems like anxiety and depression while boosting overall resilience.
A few have taken it a step further, instituting mental health days to give employees a chance to practise self-care and combat burnout. They also provide mindfulness and meditation resources to help their employees deal with stress and difficult situations and to promote a healthier work-life balance.
Practical Steps for Boosting Mental Health Wellbeing in Your Organisation
Drawing from the strategies of various industry leaders and companies, here are some actionable tips that your organisation can implement to enhance mental health benefits in your workplace.
1. Prioritise Mental Health Daily: Mental health should not be an afterthought or a periodic initiative. Instead, integrate mental health support into everyday company processes and management styles. Regular check-ins with staff about their well-being can promote an open dialogue about mental health and demonstrate your commitment to their overall health.
2. Offer Well-being Resources: Consider offering resources such as professional development courses or mental wellness tools like meditation apps or mental health webinars. Resources like these can empower employees to take charge of their mental health, contributing to a sense of personal growth and contentment.
3. Foster a Safe Environment for Dialogue: Create spaces for employees to discuss mental health concerns freely, without fear of judgement or stigma. Regular meetings or workshops can be excellent opportunities for these conversations, providing staff with the support and understanding they need to navigate personal and professional challenges.
4. Implement Mental Health and Well-being Programmes: A dedicated programme for mental health and well-being can provide structured support for employees facing various stressors. Whether it’s counselling services, stress management workshops, or mental health first aid training, these programs can provide critical support and foster a supportive workplace culture.
5. Advocate for Work-Life Balance: Encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance by implementing flexible working hours, providing adequate annual leave, and discouraging excessive overtime. An organisation that respects personal time will see more engaged and happier employees.
6. Facilitate Regular Pulse Checks: Consider implementing a weekly or bi-weekly pulse check, where employees can share how they’re feeling and any concerns they might have. This can provide valuable insight into the overall well-being of your workforce and allow for timely interventions when necessary.
7. Offer Mental Health Days: Just as physical health days are recognised, consider offering mental health days, where employees can take time off to focus on their mental well-being. This clearly conveys that mental health is valued as much as physical health in your organisation.
8. Encourage Use of Employee Assistance Programs: Promote and make it easy for employees to access Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). These can include counselling services, legal and financial advice, and other support. Encouraging their use makes employees feel cared for and understood, contributing to their overall well-being and productivity.
9. Foster a Culture of Mindfulness and Physical Fitness: Offer incentives for employees to engage in physical fitness or mindfulness activities. Such initiatives can improve mental health and foster team cohesion, whether it’s a corporate discount at a local gym or yoga studio, organising team-building physical activities, or offering mindfulness workshops.
Remember, these actions should be implemented with genuine care and concern for employees, not solely as a productivity boosting strategy. A healthier, happier workforce is the goal – enhanced productivity is simply a welcome side effect.
Creating a Sustainable Mental Health Culture
But mental health benefits are not enough on their own; organisations must cultivate an environment that erases stigma associated with mental health conditions, fostering open conversations about mental health concerns. This includes maintaining an open dialogue and ensuring ongoing mental health support rather than a one-time event.
There’s also a growing recognition that support for mental health needs to be holistic, incorporating aspects of life outside work. This could include supporting carers, promoting regular exercise and a healthier lifestyle, and encouraging work-related social activities to combat social isolation.
Promoting Utilisation of Mental Health Benefits in the Workplace
For a mental health benefits programme to have an impact, employees need to use them. Leaders play a vital role in this by actively promoting these programmes and setting an example. Incentives for participation can also help.
Companies can also demonstrate commitment to employee wellbeing through physical health benefits like health insurance and gym memberships and by promoting a healthier work-life balance. These measures can help employees feel valued and appreciated, contributing to job satisfaction and employee engagement.
Empowering Your Workforce through Mental Health Initiatives
To recap, the importance of mental health in the workplace cannot be overstated. By implementing mental health benefits and creating a supportive, stigma-free culture, companies can significantly enhance workforce productivity, improve retention rates, and promote overall well-being.
When mental health concerns are addressed proactively, and supportively, employees are better able to maintain work-life balance, manage their workload, and perform at their best. More than just boosting the bottom line, these initiatives contribute to a more resilient, satisfied, and engaged workforce.
Organisations are not just employers but also a part of the community. Addressing mental health issues in the workplace contributes to broader societal efforts to address mental health concerns.
In conclusion, prioritising employee mental health is a win-win for both employees and employers. So, for companies seeking to recharge their productivity, a robust mental health programme might be the way forward.
Sparking the Conversation Around Mental Health Benefits
As we navigate the new age of work, it’s a good time for companies to revisit their mental health policies and programmes. We invite you to share your experiences, suggestions, or innovative approaches your organisation has adopted to boost mental health in the workplace with The Consultancy Group. Your insight might be the spark that helps another organisation enhance their mental health benefits and recharge productivity in its workforce.