It is generally the case that safety is taken much more seriously than health and wellbeing within the workplace, but why is this? Is it that there is stricter legislation in place around safety and working in hazardous environments? Worryingly, 1 in 5 people take a day off work due to stress, and 70 million working days are lost each year due to ill mental health, showing that health and wellbeing poses a real issue to workers in Britain. These statistics alone show it’s time our mental health and wellbeing is treated as seriously as safety within the workplace.
It’s reported that 56% of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing, but don’t feel they have the right training or guidance to do so. So whilst there is greater conversation and media coverage around mental health, it isn’t always clear what steps an employer can take in order to better deal with their employee’s mental health in the workplace. Mental health covers problems like harmful levels of stress, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis, OCD, as well as drug and alcohol abuse and eating disorders just to name a few. A common statistic reports that 1 in 4 of us are likely to suffer from mental illness during our lifetime, and hence responding to this in the workplace is key.
Making sure you start a conversation around mental health in the workplace and create an open and caring culture is really important in helping to treat mental health. Put time and effort into spotting the signs associated with mental health, including emotional, cognitive, behavioural, physical & business-related changes. We understand you’re probably not the experts in this field, but by making some of these changes you’re definitely going in the right direction. Upon spotting an issue, this is where you can bring in occupational health specialists to help you better help and support your employees.
With employers now being more interested in their employee’s health and wellbeing, investing in health and wellbeing programmes has become popular in recent times. Our own health and wellbeing are made up a combination of physical, social, intellectual and emotional factors, and people are now much more aware of the effects our physical and mental health has on our own wellbeing, as well as the substantial impacts our wellbeing has on our health. Moreover, the impact this has on performance and happiness within the workplace, over the past few years, stress accounted for 35% of all work-related ill health cases, which really highlights the importance of treating health in the same serious manner in which we treat safety.
A health and wellbeing programme consists of a series of checks within the workplace, measuring a range of physical and mental health-related factors. From this analysis, recommendations and fixes can be made to provide greater stability in an employee’s health and wellbeing. This not only leads to them feeling happier and healthier within themselves, but working more productively, producing a higher quality of work and are being more efficient in what they do. Find out more about our health and wellbeing programmes here.
But how do we tackle the issue of getting health treated in the same way as safety? The first step is in raising awareness and getting people to view the importance of health; education is key in prevention. It is important companies understand the risks a negative state of mind can have on an employee and their work, and why prevention and openness is so important. Take the time to talk to and monitor your employees, and provide them with the information and support they need to perform at their best. This awareness and proactive attitude transforms into the company culture, making the problem much easier to tackle.
A large part of changing the way health is thought about in the workplace is changing the workplace culture that surrounds it. Workplace culture has such a major impact on whether or not procedures are followed, and whether issues are openly talked about or not. Unfortunately, changing workplace culture is a long and complex task that cannot be done overnight. However, with the right awareness campaigns and incentives in place, getting workers to adhere to healthier working practices can really help tackle the issue.
If you would like to know more about how you can improve the way you think about health in the workplace, get in touch with our occupational health team today and see how we can help!
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