Last month Mental Health Awareness Week got us all thinking a little more about how we can improve our emotional wellbeing and help those around us. For employers’ mental health is a particularly hot topic all year round – as an increasing number of workers report high levels of stress and conditions such as depression and anxiety. On occasion widespread dissatisfaction or poor mental health in the workplace can impact on productivity overall, in turn affecting the overall success of a company. Here we explore the various ways employers can implement healthy change to improve and support positive physical and mental wellbeing.
Focus on natural light
Numerous studies have shown that as human beings, we undoubtedly respond well to natural light. The absence of sufficient light throughout the day can make us feel lethargic and increase stress levels, as it affects our natural biological rhythm. Where possible, design office spaces that are centred on natural light – keeping desks close to windows and opening up blinds to let light in. Where strong sunlight could be disruptive install flexible blinds to maintain high levels of light throughout the day. This small change could reduce stress levels, promote better overall wellbeing and increase productivity.
Let the outdoors in
Plants actively improve air quality – but they’re also pleasant to look at, especially given the fact that many office employees spend the majority of their day indoors. One survey showed that 36% of employees would like to see more plants in their workplace – so it’s worth investing in some lush palms or succulents to help raise morale and promote a happier, healthier office environment.
Introduce ergonomic furniture and stand-up desks
Office employees spend an average of 6.8 hours at their work station every day – so comfortable, supportive chairs are a must. Many companies consider the comfort of the furniture they purchase last after aesthetics and cost – but back issues, joint pain and obesity are endemic throughout the office worker community. Tackle this by investing in ergonomic chairs with adequate back support designed to help employees to move around and sit safely and comfortably. Stand up desks are also a brilliant introduction as they promote greater mobility during the day.
Create an open environment for discussion
Absenteeism is a real issue for UK employers – but so is ‘presenteeism’ – the growing culture of employees who force themselves to head into work despite suffering with various medical issues including back pain, poor mental health or headaches. This significantly impacts on a company’s overall productivity – but it’s also bad news for employees, who tend to feel worse over time without bringing attention to their additional needs. Creating a safe, open and non-judgemental space within the workplace which allows employees to easily express any concerns or communicate problems they have helps you to make smarter, more successful improvements – but it also boosts morale. Last month Mental Health Awareness Week highlighted the need for greater discussion and openness around various conditions that often can’t be seen or noticed in the workplace. Where mental wellbeing is concerned it’s especially important that employees feel as though they can approach colleagues and senior staff members and share issues or ask for support.
Wellness programmes in the workplace have been shown to significantly boost employee morale and help them to make better choices, in turn impacting positively on their overall health. Incorporating gym or health club memberships, weekly yoga classes or meditation spaces have been shown to be much more effective compared with simply providing written information or telling employees what to do. Introducing healthier snacks and filtered water throughout the office could also help your workforce to implement positive changes.
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