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Mental Wellbeing: The heart of a successful business

We are living in an age where our brains are trained to be constantly active and processing information. Yet, the average human attention span is only a mere 14 minutes, this means that our brains are prone to wander and worry.  In the modern world, trying to balance work and life can cause a huge strain on our minds, with people often complaining about feeling overwhelmed, overworked or unable to get through their never-ending to-do lists. 

Supporting mental wellbeing in the workplace is becoming a growing challenge for employers. Issues like anxiety, stress, and depression are leading to high staff turnover, lost work days and lower productivity.  These mental health issues will often affect many people at some point in their lives and employers need to understand ways to provide their staff with the right training and tools; because happy and healthy employees are the driving force behind every successful business.

How to promote mental wellbeing within the workplace

Often not enough emphasis placed on mental health, so making your team aware of it and demonstrating that the company is there to provide support for their staff is beneficial to the business. Employees who feel that the company cares about their mental wellbeing are more likely to be motivated, engaged and more likely to stay with the company for a long period of time.  Creating this culture of positive health is vital to the company’s success.

Some initial ways to promote Mental Wellbeing are:

Workshops

There is often stigma attached to mental health that needs to be tackled. Therefore supporting and engaging with employees in regards to their mental and wider health is essential. One way to address these issues is to get in touch with a mental health speaker who may share personal experiences with their mental health and provide support to the office. This gives your employees an insight into mental health and makes them aware that they are not alone. The speaker gives employees the opportunity to have someone to talk to and could perhaps inspire them to seek help. It can also educate employees on the self-help tools and helplines that are available to them.

Team building

Team building activities are important to promote mental wellbeing within the workplace.  Socialising and having someone to talk to at work is one of the best ways to improve productivity in the office.  (See our article on the importance of friends at work). Not only does it increase morale, but it allows employees to better understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This, in turn, helps them work together better on future projects and relieve stress, which is vital to the company.

Promotion of a positive work-life balance

One key aspect of a successful relationship between a company and their employees is the promotion of a  positive work-life balance. This is about separating personal and professional lives without either interfering with the other and is important for promoting physical and mental health. This is important to:

  • Prevent Burnout - One common issue that occurs when this balance is not found is ‘burnout’ this is when immense pressure is put on an individual causing chronic stress.  This can be caused by a never-ending workload or not feeling appreciated in the workplace. When burnout occurs employees are often not working to their full potential, they’re stressed, tired and productivity will decrease. It is therefore important to promote this balance in order to keep your employees working as their best selves.
  • Improve Health - A work-life balance is also important for your physical health this can include a healthy body or a healthy mind. Chronic stress can lead to increased blood pressure and an inability to switch off from work can lead to decreased happiness.  All employers want to keep their best employees and in order to do so positive health needs to be encouraged.
  • Create a Rounded Character - As well as helping to relieve stress, hobbies and alternative ‘life’ activities bring joy and enrich our lives by allowing us to continue to learn and develop new skills. Hobbies also create a more interesting character, it gives you specialised skills and stories to share but it also engages you in alternate activities. Our hobbies have often been found linked to developing patience and social skills. It is, therefore, an essential part of having a balance work-life style. 

So how can we individually improve mental wellbeing?

Fundamentally, stress has a really negative effect on both our bodies and minds, the greater the stress often the worse situations become. Recognising your own mental wellbeing too and being in tune with ways to combat this is important in order to excel in both your career and personal life. A few examples of ways to improve your personal wellbeing include:

Taking time out

We all love to believe that we’re invincible and can overwork, over socialise and burn the candle at both ends. However, we need to listen to our bodies and give ourselves time to rest, if your energy is lacking so is your productivity. Sometimes, the best option is to take some time out; this can be as easy as taking a walk or getting some fresh air, taking this time allows you to clear your mind and will, in turn, lead to greater efficiency.

Refocusing your thoughts

In an era full of technology and multitasking it is often very easy to get caught up and over absorbed in our thoughts. Throughout the day you’ll often find that your mind is jumping between tasks and meetings. This is slowly exhausting your brain and is the reason that many of us are left feeling exhausted.  If this occurs allow yourself some time to re-focus your thoughts on one task at a time.  A few ways to do this include: making lists that prioritise your most important work, visualise your goals and expected outcomes, set your daily goals, choose a playlist of music that relaxes you or change your environment by taking a step away from your desk and working elsewhere.

Spend time doing something you’re passionate about

The key to taking care of your mental wellbeing involves spending time doing something for ourselves, allowing your brain to regain a level of calm and relaxation.  As humans, we spend so much of our lives doing tasks for other people and often forget that we do need to focus some time on ourselves. Activities will vary depending on the individual but can include: listening to music, reading, writing or spending time at the gym. Whatever you are passionate about make sure that you spend time doing it as it will reduce stress and improve your performance at work.

How about practising Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a mental state where we are able to focus our brains to a level of calm to the point that we can be more present in our lives and in turn increase our situational awareness.  Mindfulness has recently become a key attribution in the workplace; it comes alongside the need to understand mental health and is a consistent concept in the creativity and wellness culture at firms. If we are taught how to be mindful it can lead to an increased attention span, lack of stress and subsequently an improved quality of work and maximum creativity; something that is important for both employee retention and individual work satisfaction.

Examples of Mindfulness strategy practice

Mindfulness can help organisations identify what ideas are important and what may be limiting the company’s growth.  Strategy practices include:

  • Using scenario planning exercises – Key decision makers can be exposed to a range of outcomes that often challenge their assumptions and mindsets during scenario planning exercises. This will make room for new ideas and thought patterns that can be used to build strategic business plans.
  • Visualizing positive outcomes - Pessimism has often been found to narrow our focus, whereas positive emotions increase our attention and receptiveness to new ideas. During strategy planning, it can, therefore, be effective for leaders to focus on positive outcomes and take time to contemplate alternative business scenarios.

Even though mindfulness is mainly a personal state of achievement, we also need to ensure that we are mindful of others.  Mindfulness is undoubtedly a positive notion and is helping people manage stress, maximise creativity and make better strategic choices. It is, therefore, useful to start looking into the practice and developing coping mechanisms.

So, by promoting mental wellbeing employees are more likely to fulfil potential, cope well and enjoy working life. To ensure this, working environments can make positive contributions by creating a healthy company culture, having awareness about personal or potential health issues and providing support for employees.  It should not be underestimated and businesses can drive greater success by ensuring that mental health stays in focus.