Workplace Environment and Mental Health Top Tips
Chris Moriarty, Director of Insights at the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM)
Work is incredibly important to our wellbeing with a safe and pleasant working environment regarded as an essential component of a good job – yet over half of the nation’s employees report that their working environment has a negative effect on their mental health1. With the coronavirus pandemic turning traditional working set ups upside down, mental health concerns have arguably never been higher on the agenda, and it is important not to forget that responsibility for employee wellbeing covers all workspaces - it doesn't stop at the office door.
Whether enabling working remotely or in the office, workplace and facilities professionals are best equipped to ensure the working environment does not negatively impact on mental health – and to help organisations and individuals to remain positive, productive and healthy.
This Mental Health Awareness Week, consider these practical tips to support employees’ mental wellbeing:
1. Create productive workspaces
A productive workspace is a critical factor for employees’ mental health. As thousands continue to work from home, many are missing the connectivity and productivity of an office environment. Where possible, consider investing in an adequate home-working set up, particularly for those for whom home-working is likely to be a more long-term situation.
Many home-workers will be battling distractions in the home. Consider encouraging employees to vary their workspace according to task, replicating the different zones available in most modern workplaces. Taking calls while walking in the garden for instance or switching off distractions such as the radio when focusing.
2. Communicate with employees
Regular communication is key to building employee engagement - and never more so than at times of disruption and uncertainty. Now is the time to step up communications, whether through full company updates or encouraging team members to hold regular catch ups.
When planning for a return to work, it’s important to realise this will be a source of anxiety for many. Ensure staff are kept informed of plans and processes at the right time and take the time to talk to employees to establish their key concerns to help formulate a return to work plan they feel comfortable with.
3. Make use of digital tools
With many working remotely, now is a good opportunity to utilise digital tools to help support employee wellbeing. Apps such as Headspace can do much to promote awareness of mental wellbeing, as can guidance on how best to work from home. Webinar workshops are also popular and easy to run. These can focus on topics such as mental resilience and self-confidence, acting as an opportunity to remind employees that a business cares about their mental health while also giving them an opportunity for personal development.
4. Formalise a well-being strategy
Having a formal well-being strategy in place will not only improve wellbeing, but also contribute to business performance. Consider introducing a formal plan that can work both now and into the future. This should cover all aspects of workplace wellbeing, from flexible working hours to fitness and nutrition support.
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