The Importance of Mental Health and Sustainable Wellbeing in Organisational Success

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, an ideal time to reflect on the critical importance of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. In today’s competitive business environment, creating a culture that prioritises sustainable wellbeing is not just a compassionate choice but a strategic one. Companies that support their employees’ mental health and work-life balance see benefits in productivity, loyalty, and overall organisational success.

Why Mental Health Matters

Mental health issues are prevalent in the workplace, with stress, anxiety, and depression significantly affecting employee performance. According to the UK’s Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace (14.7% of the population). In 2022, a Deloitte survey revealed that 28% of employees had left their jobs or were planning to leave their jobs with 61% citing poor mental health. Additionally, poor mental health costs UK employers up to £102 billion each year. These figures underscore the importance of addressing mental health proactively.

Sustainable Wellbeing: More Than a Buzzword

While the term “wellbeing” can sometimes feel like a corporate buzzword, its impact is very real. Sustainable wellbeing means creating an environment where employees feel valued, supported, and balanced. An environment in which they feel able to bring their whole self to work, whether that’s a single parent, an unpaid carer, or simply a pet owner, and feel cared for in those roles as well as their professional ones. This empathetic and ‘human’ approach leads to higher job satisfaction, increased engagement, and lower turnover rates.

Supporting Work-Life Balance

In the UK, 47% of job seekers say that a good work-life balance is a top selling point. One of the most effective ways to promote mental health is by supporting work-life balance. Flexible working hours, remote work options, and encouraging employees to take their full holiday entitlement are all practical measures. Organisations that offer flexibility help mitigate stress and prevent burnout, fostering a more resilient workforce.

Preventing Burnout

Burnout is a significant risk, particularly in high-pressure industries and environments. The World Health Organization (WHO) now classifies burnout as an occupational phenomenon, characterised by chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. To prevent burnout, companies should promote a culture where taking breaks is encouraged, workloads are manageable, and there are regular check-ins to assess employee stress levels.

Providing Resources and Benefits

Modern employees expect more than just a salary; they look for employers who invest in their overall wellbeing. This can include mental health resources such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), mental health days, access to counselling services, and wellbeing workshops and webinars. According to Mind, the mental health charity, 60% of employees feel their employer should be doing more to support their mental wellbeing. Offering comprehensive wellbeing benefits can help attract and retain top talent.

Practical Pointers for Employers

  1. Conduct Regular Wellbeing Surveys: Understanding the specific needs and concerns of your workforce is crucial. Use anonymous surveys to gather insights and tailor your wellbeing initiatives accordingly.
  2. Implement Training Programmes: Equip managers and team leaders with the skills to recognise signs of mental distress and provide support. Mental health first aid training can be particularly beneficial.
  3. Promote a Healthy Work Culture: Encourage open discussions about mental health, reduce stigma by promoting mental health campaigns and awareness days, and ensure that mental health policies are clearly communicated and accessible.
  4. Provide Flexible Working Arrangements: Allowing employees to manage their work schedules can significantly reduce stress. This could include flexible hours, remote working options, or compressed workweeks.
  5. Offer Comprehensive Benefits: Invest in benefits that support mental health, such as counselling or coaching services, a comprehensive resource hub, wellness programmes, and fitness memberships. Consider partnerships with corporate and family solutions organisations such as Bright Horizons, mental health apps and services for additional support.
  6. Encourage Regular Breaks and Downtime: Ensure employees are taking regular breaks during the workday and encourage the use of annual leave to recharge and prevent burnout.

Prioritising mental health and sustainable wellbeing is not just beneficial for employees but also for the organisation’s bottom line. Companies that genuinely invest in their employees’ wellbeing see improved productivity, reduced turnover, and a more engaged workforce. By creating a supportive environment that values work-life balance and mental health, businesses can thrive and ensure their employees do too.

As we observe Mental Health Awareness Month, why not commit to making mental health and wellbeing a fundamental part of your organisational strategy. It’s an investment that pays dividends in the form of loyal, productive, and happy employees.