Employee wellbeing doesn’t need more lip service – it needs action

Everybody wants to start the working day on a good note. But at a time when bad news seems to come in droves, finding that ray of positivity can prove tricky.

Employee wellbeing doesn’t need more lip service – it needs action

Everybody wants to start the working day on a good note. But at a time when bad news seems to come in droves, finding that ray of positivity can prove tricky.

It can be compounded by the fact that many of us have been working in physical isolation from our colleagues for months on end. While there was some light at the end of the tunnel in summer when workers started returning to the office, the official guidance in the UK has now changed again.

Given remote working was thrust upon many of us, it’s little surprise that one-in-four people say it has impacted their mental health. In fact, our most recent research found that 31% of European small business workers feel more stressed when remote working. And with the prospect of a second lockdown upon us, the onus is very much on employers to ensure that they support their people ‘ no matter where they are working.

Why your business needs to care about mental health

Mental health issues do not discriminate. Anyone can be vulnerable to feelings of depression, isolation, and loneliness. Lockdowns only compound this. 

Crucially, many people still do not feel comfortable discussing their mental health in the workplace ‘ which means potentially suffering in silence. Creating an environment where employees are able to disclose issues is vital for creating a warm and welcoming workplace, where people feel supported to overcome problems impacting their emotional wellbeing. 

Putting employee welfare at the forefront of your company’s strategy works wonders for staff morale. It is also critical for business resilience and growth. Taking a supportive approach will help to build employee trust, which is the foundation of long-lasting loyalty to a company.

Leading by example

We can’t ignore the fact that mental health has been taboo historically. Slowly, it has become part of everyday conversation and climbed up the agenda for governments across the globe. Now there are more avenues for support than ever before.

But the bad news is that the business world is dragging its feet. Not every company is equipped to support their employees’ emotional wellbeing. A key challenge for business leaders now is removing taboos in the workplace and reaffirming that mental health problems must be taken just as seriously as physical ones.

Companies must not pay lip service to mental health. The only way to prove your commitment to genuinely supporting your employees’ wellbeing is to take proactive, demonstrable action towards change.

How can businesses support employees?

It’s all well and good saying that mental health support needs to improve. But resources and cashflow can often be quite tight for small businesses.

The good news is there is a plethora of programmes and services available to help businesses support their workers. Here at Ricoh Europe, our Digital GP service provides staff with 24/7 access to a doctor via voice or video call. Meanwhile, our subscription to Headspace educates staff on how to better manage stress and wellbeing. Crucially, the service gives employees the chance to pause, detach and re-energise.

When employees start to return to the office, many will want to know that health and safety is genuinely a top priority. One way to achieve this is by reconsidering the equipment used in the workplace. Investing in touchless or contactless technology is a great place to start ‘ especially if they’re deployed alongside tools that help you to communicate regularly with staff no matter where they’re based.

When implementing initiatives to support employee wellbeing, it’s important to take a close look at company culture at the same time. After all, there will never be an adequate substitute for having a compassionate and empathetic manager or colleague. Many companies have organised virtual social events and regular check-ins to help people stay connected and close with teammates. However, this support network needs to be formalised, accessible and communicated with clarity to the entire workforce. This means embedding it into HR strategies, to make sure that no one falls through the net.

Final thoughts

Creating a supportive, welcoming company environment is the first step towards a well-rounded employee support strategy. Investing in resources, processes, and technology to support staff complements this.

We don’t all share the same skills and perspective. And that’s great ‘ it makes for a diverse workforce. However, this means that each employee will have different concerns and needs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution here. A comprehensive support programme is vital for making staff feel like their wellbeing is important. It will also pave the way for a productive, healthy and successful relationship with employees long into the future. 

Nicola Downing
Nicola Downing

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