Use these science-backed practices to nurture healthier and more productive employees.
Agonising lockdowns laced with fears of illness, redundancy and furloughs. Social lives limited to Zoom screens and endless Slack notifications. Heavy workloads with distractions few and far between.
Anxious and frustrated, your employees have been through a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than half of adults (60%) reported in June 2020 that their mental health had become worse during lockdown, according to mental health charity Mind.
Therefore, this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week takes on special significance.
Mental Health Awareness Week is a welcome pause for business leaders to reflect on the severe negative effect the pandemic has had on their people’s mental health.
Every May, Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on the mental health of everyone in the UK. This year’s event, taking place between May 10-16, focuses on the theme of nature.
An apt choice, considering many workers have been camped in their homes, hunched over their work laptops for hours at the kitchen table.
Studies have shown spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature, among the trees, birds and greenery, is associated with good health and wellbeing.
Mental illness impacts people and businesses significantly. In addition to losses in productivity, engagement, and performance, it is also responsible for 72 million working days being lost, costing £34.9 billion each year, according to the Centre for Mental Health.
Mental Health Awareness Week is, therefore, a valuable opportunity for C-Suite and HR leaders to take stock and spread awareness of the need for better support.
Some 9% of employees who disclosed mental health issues to their line manager said they were disciplined, dismissed or demoted, according to a Business in the Community study, indicating why many people choose to hide their mental health issues, making them even worse.
By attracting participation from organisations – large and small – across the UK, the week helps to break the murky stigma surrounding mental health through open online discussions, webinars and other events telling those struggling that they are not alone, that it’s ‘okay to not be okay’ and that there is help that they can receive. This is imperative because people who live with mental illness are more likely to develop other chronic medical conditions and die earlier than others.
As UK society continues to gradually reopen this summer, employers can use the wealth of educational resources that appear during the week to begin engaging their own staff.
Behavioural science research suggests that employers should focus on giving their people greater autonomy over their work, as a practical step to deterring employee stress, burnout and promoting overall wellbeing.
Numerous studies, including 2012 research by Rhokeun Park, found that individuals who had more job autonomy were significantly more likely to have better mental wellbeing and a stronger commitment to their employer.
Business leaders can achieve this by building a working environment that directly nurtures each individual’s three essential psychological needs:
Also, ensuring everyone has access to the same information through sharing tools, processes and priorities will improve the shared context, allowing people to better interpret and share their work experiences.
For further advice on how to implement these scientifically proven wellbeing practices for your team, watch MindGym’s Mindset Reset webinar lead by our President Sebastian Bailey, PhD. and Wei-Li Chong, President of Americas.
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