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8 compelling reasons to support mental wellbeing in the workplace

Want to improve your team’s quality of life, while boosting innovation and creativity? Supporting mental wellbeing at work can do just that.

Employee mental wellbeing is (thankfully), an area that more and more businesses are focusing on. It’s great to see this people-first attitude spread, but many companies still lack systems and tools to enable them to adequately support their teams. Still other businesses may be unsure whether this kind of support would significantly benefit their employees and in turn, the business as a whole.

At Foundations, we believe that supporting mental wellbeing should be a top priority in every workplace. And if you’re not convinced yet, here are eight reasons that are well worth considering:

1. Work-related stress can affect your team’s quality of life.

Let’s be honest, stress is not uncommon in the workplace. Most of us have competing claims on our time and attention that cause some level of stress, but with enough time, resources and support, we tend to be able to manage it.

However, when we’re spread too thin and don’t have that support, we can start to feel like we can’t cope. This kind of stress can have all sorts of adverse effects, and it can have a real impact on your team’s quality of life.

This stress can spill over into your team member’s family and community life, and of course, it can have a negative effect on their work. Looking just at absenteeism, 17.9 million workdays have been lost so far in 2020 in the UK to work-related stress, anxiety and depression. And in the US, more than half the working days lost annually to absenteeism are related to stress.

2. Without support, employees are at risk.

Emotions are contagious. This means that where there is no mental wellbeing support system in place, stress can spread through your office, causing people to be less happy, engaged and productive.

A stressful environment can also make your employees more vulnerable to developing further issues, such as anxiety, depression and insomnia, as well as the physical illnesses that stress can cause.

1 in 4 adults in the UK experience mental health problems, and these numbers are the same for the US. These stats alone show why mental wellbeing should be a focus for every business out there.

3. Providing support shows your employees their wellbeing matters.

If you value employee wellbeing, having a system in place to support it shows your team that you care. Authenticity is key here. Your workers shouldn’t see your provision as a box-ticking exercise, or just another way to increase productivity.

Offering your team genuinely useful tools and a safe space to manage their stress will help them see what you’re doing as authentic. Showing you value and care about them will help them be authentic too, which has its own benefits for wellbeing...and for business. When people are authentic, they tend to be open and honest, which benefits workplace relationships and communication throughout the whole organization.

4. You can create a genuinely great place to work.

Creating a great place to work doesn’t just mean free Friday burritos and sleep pods (although sleep is important—as are burritos).

Perks like these are welcome, and they do contribute to happiness at work, but to make sure employees feel valued and cared for, their mental wellbeing needs to be looked after too.

When employees are treated according to their individual needs, interests and abilities, there’s a good chance they’ll enjoy coming to work, which leads to other benefits...

Two women smiling in a workplace that supports employee mental wellbeing.

You X Ventures via @unsplash

5. Mental wellbeing boosts employee engagement.

Switched on, happy and enthusiastic workers are great for your business. In fact, teams like this are 21% more profitable, according to Forbes. The bad news is that worldwide, only 15% of teams are engaged in this way.

Stress negatively affects engagement as well as turnover, so reducing stress is a very good thing for your team and your business.

6. You can attract (and retain) the best talent.

If you have a fantastic, supportive business filled with people who love coming to work and appreciate how they’re treated, you have a better chance of attracting the best talent around.

Company culture is increasingly important to prospective employees, and with an increasing number of businesses competing to be the best places to work, a company culture that supports employees’ mental wellbeing is now an essential part of attracting, as well as retaining the best talent.

7. It encourages creativity and innovation.

Creativity and innovation are valuable traits, but both can be damaged by stress. These traits require headspace, but if an employee is buried beneath a seemingly insurmountable to-do list, they’ll probably lack the mental bandwidth required to do their best work.

Supporting the wellbeing of workers and helping them to reduce stress can boost creativity and innovation, which has the added benefit of increasing intrinsic motivation—a trait present in 76% of employees who exceed expectations, according to this report from Korn Ferry.

8. We could all benefit from more resilience right now.

We’re writing this at the end of 2020, a year that has certainly tested our resilience and highlighted its importance.

Hopefully, life will become a little more predictable as we usher in 2021. But we’ll always come up against stress, whether from global events, incidents in our personal lives or those at work, such as organizational change.

Supporting your team by giving them practical tools to handle stress helps them build resilience, and that has to be a good thing, now and moving forward.

How to start supporting mental wellbeing in the workplace

If you’d like to support mental wellbeing in your organisation, learn more about our Foundations tool here.

We’ve also put together this whitepaper about how mental wellbeing affects engagement and turnover. And there’s some excellent advice here from the Mental Health Foundation about supporting mental wellbeing at work.

You can also find blog posts on our site about everything from helping your team stay creative and productive to why and how to encourage them to take time off.

How is your business managing and supporting employee wellbeing at work? Let us know at foundations@koahealth.com.