In 2020 the UK faced one of the biggest challenges in history: COVID-19. A year later, the workplace has drastically changed, and we are tackling workplace wellbeing within the UK like never before. With 42% of adults feeling anxious or stressed due to covid-19, it is clear just how much of an impact the pandemic has had on the UK workforce.
In this document, we will delve into mental wellbeing within the UK, exploring the quandaries it can create within the workplace. Following on from this, we will discuss the Mental Health Charter and why Each Person has signed it, focusing on caring for workplace wellbeing.
Mental Health within the UK
Over the last year, the UK has experienced immense changes to how we operate in and out of work. Many individuals have suffered personal and financial impacts from covid resulting in poor mental health. Without sufficient support from work, these people can become alienated, scared and vulnerable.
A study carried out by the UK mental health charity Mind found that 30% of staff did not feel comfortable discussing their stress with their line managers. Communication is vital within 2021’s working climate, and developing supportive relationships can break down stigmas faced within mental health. Talking about mental health does not have to be challenging.
Without proper support, employees may resort to resignation. Mind found that 14% of staff had resigned from work due to workplace stress. A further 42% of employees had considered leaving as a result. Without a workforce, companies would simply cease to exist. After all, they are only as good as their people.
These shocking figures point out the immensity of the mental health crisis within the UK and just how important it is for companies to take the appropriate measures in correcting these issues.
Impact of Covid-19 on Workplace Wellbeing
In March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, a study carried out by The Mental Health Foundation found a frightening 62% of adults felt worried or stressed. This percentage communicates the sheer scale of the effects of the pandemic.
The same study carried out later in February 2021 showed this statistic fell by 20%. Although these findings are positive, it still leaves around half the UK feeling worried. This percentage decrease may stem from the hopefulness of lockdown easing. However, faced with looming uncertainties still, the UK still needs to reassure those who are living with these realities.
Poor mental health costs UK employers around £45 billion every year. However, according to Deloitte, for every £1 spent on mental health wellbeing, employers get £5 back due to reductions in absences and staff turnover. In other words, it is highly beneficial to the overall wellbeing of your organisation to invest in effective workplace wellbeing strategies.
What can companies do?
Mental welling is a complex structure as we well know. However, alleviating the difficulties your people may face can be manageable and effective. It is important to know that mental health will never be fully eliminated, but with a willingness to change organisations can substantially help those in need.
Strong Employee Relationship
Firstly, employee relationships may seem inconsequential. However, they are vital to improving workplace wellbeing. Those who have formed working relationships are seven times more likely to be engaged. As a result of this, your people become happier and more proactive within their role.
Maintaining workplace relationships has changed and become difficult due to covid-19. For example, individuals work from home without an office environment, and others start employment without meeting team members face to face. On the other hand, remote working has offered a plethora of opportunities for online team building. Working from home has also had a positive impact on workplace inclusivity through reduction of commute, feeling safer at home and flexibility. Thus individuals feel more welcome and can form better relationships with one another.
Building Better Communication
Following on from employee relationships, communication between team members enables continued workplace wellbeing. 30% of staff don’t feel able to openly talk with their line manager if feeling stressed. Without a strong foundation for communication, team members will become alienated and consequently less productive.
Some of our clients, such as Bupa All-Stars, have used our Ecard system to build a better communication platform for their people. Through dynamic, visual and encouraging Ecards, communication can be manageable for those working at home and in the office.
Supporting Employee Wellbeing
Finally, supporting those in need is vital to the longevity of employee wellbeing. A study from Mind UK found that one in five agreed that they had called in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress had affected them. There are many more shocking statistics following on from this which prove how significant workplace wellbeing is. Without safe, engaged and proactive staff, teams can fall short and lose their ability to work well.
The Four Pillars of Wellbeing can aid in the successful implementation of support. These pillars include physical, mental, financial and social wellbeing. Lacking support in one area can have adverse effects on another. For example, those experiencing financial issues may experience a decline in mental wellbeing through stress and anxiety. Therefore, offering support for all of these areas, simultaneously, is vital to promoting your peoples’ wellbeing.
Following this, understanding the difference between mental illness and mental wellbeing can allow you to offer the right help. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the two can be differentiated as follows: “Mental illnesses are conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behaviour, such as depression [and] anxiety” however “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel, and act.” Although these definitions are similar, they are not the same. An individual can experience poor mental health without experiencing a mental illness. For those with mental illnesses, simple wellbeing strategies may not be enough and may need professional support and understanding.
The Mental Health Charter
The Mental Health Charter is a flexible and consistent charter helping to provide all businesses within the UK a means to access mental health support, training and awareness. Each Person has recently signed the charter to help our staff and continue supporting workplace wellbeing even further.
We spoke to Michale Lloyd, Founder and Managing Director of the Mental Health Charter, to see his perspective. Lloyd told us: “Having worked in HR and training for most of my career, I felt the lack of support for businesses or where to go to get the support was limited.” he then went on to say: “Having my own Mental Health issues in the past, with no one to turn to at work, really set me on my journey to get help for businesses who want a Mentally Healthy Workplace.”
Why is the Mental health charter needed?
It is clear to see that the UK needs to make a change to help those in need. Perhaps through support groups in the workplace for those feeling low. Or access to services that can directly help those in need of more support. With the NHS under added pressure, workplaces should help their people whilst working cohesively to combat mental health.
Lloyd believes the Mental Health Charter helps employers provide crucial support to their staff, such as Mental Health First Aid courses and access to a wellbeing portal with Mental Health Awareness training. Individuals spend a lot of their time at work and may feel they don’t have time to address their mental health at home and are too worried to address issues at work with management or HR. Lloyd also said that with MHC posters, support and workplace involvement could potentially save lives.
Matt Norbury, CEO at Each Person, believed something was missing from our support with workplace wellbeing. He believed Each Person focused on physical health, such as personal training in the park, outdoor activities like Go Ape and even discounted gym memberships. However, Norbury wanted to take a stance on mental health and implement its value within the workplace. Signing the Mental Health Charter will help encourage mental wellbeing for all of our people. Nevertheless, it is crucial to know that supporting mental health has no quick fix and will need continual support and adaptation.
Helping Break Down Stigmas
Passed in 2010, the Equality Act made it illegal to discriminate directly or indirectly against people with mental health problems. However, nearly 9 out of 10 people with mental health problems believe that stigmas have a negative effect on their lives, showing that these issues are still prevalent.
Breaking down these stigmas through open communication can massively improve the way people feel about mental health. Lloyd says that he encounters people daily who will say such things as “No we’re all sane here,” or “Our staff don’t need that kind of help,” incredibly harmful sentences that make discrimination and silence even more powerful.
Being mindful of what individuals may be experiencing is crucial to breaking down stigmas. Not all people are vocal about their mental health and can be facing many different situations from others. Open and honest communication, both speaking and listening, can help alleviate concerns your people may have. Try to avoid being sympathetic and focus on empathetic communication.
Mental Health First Aider
Mental Health First Aid England offers training and consultancy to support organisations to manage health and workplace wellbeing proactively. In turn, this minimises the impact of mental ill-health and promotes and maintains healthy workplaces. MHFA is the only organisation that can train your team to provide expert help on mental health as a whole. Having trained over 20,000 workplaces in the UK, it is clear that MHFA is a successful way to support and maintain a wellbeing strategy.
The Mental Health Charter offers free MHFA sessions so companies can build approaches to supporting issues concerning mental health. Lloyd believes the discussion around mental health is becoming more prevalent in our personal lives. Therefore, companies will have to “catch up” to offer their staff that same support in the workplace. MHFA within your organisation can help you do so.
What can we do to help?
Here at Each Person, we know your people are more than just employees. Therefore, we place value in looking after and supporting their mental wellbeing. Our dedicated team finds new ways to make this as manageable and exciting as possible through communication, culture and creativity.
With accessible, inclusive and engaging forms of rewards and recognition, companies can help their people feel valued. Over 50% of employees believe that a simple thank you would make them feel more appreciated. For this reason, we have a diverse range of Ecards that can be sent for authentic, ‘in the moment’ thanks. Saying thank you for your hard work has an extraordinary effect on morale, productivity and loyalty.
Each Person’s reward and recognition platform offers a plethora of opportunities to help your people and you with workplace wellness.
The pressures of life in 2021 are real, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on individuals mental health and wellbeing. The constraints people face in their personal life and work life have refocused minds to combat the long-lasting effects. Unfortunately, stigma still exists, and people do not feel safe enough to speak about what they are experiencing.
However, this article has discussed ways employers can help create a safe and open environment for people to express themselves and feel heard. Companies can bring about change within the very structures of how they operate in order to assist their people. The happier the individuals, the happier the companies.
Making adjustments, such as better communication, can bring forward tremendous benefits for individuals struggling. Evolving from where an individual believes they can’t express their feelings to one with open dialogue is the first step that can transform workplace wellbeing. Workplace wellbeing is arguably one of the most prominent challenges the UK faces post-covid. But with the appropriate measures, companies can make huge strides in helping their people.
Organisations such as the Mental Health Charter can produce a lasting change by providing an outlet to the pressures that people find themselves in, and by supporting individuals with access to real help. They also provide people with the knowledge that they are not alone in their feelings, one of the most powerful tools in breaking down stigmas.
We at Each Person know all too well the importance of looking after an individual’s wellbeing. Our approach is to truly look at how our technology can add to and make a difference in a company’s workplace wellbeing strategy. Working with our partners, we have seen first hand the effects of COVID-19 on the individual and have looked to adapt and evolve our approach to help people. From small gestures of appreciation to financial stability. Our approach, as our name suggests, is to help the individual, the person.
Ultimately, we are all in this together, and we need to think of how each of us, and organisations, can affect change. The proverb ‘you are not alone’ becomes real, and the support can turn someone from the depths of gloom to a brighter future.