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6 tips to boost workplace wellbeing

Nurturing wellbeing at work can increase employee happiness, engagement and productivity. But how, exactly, do you do it?

There’s a growing focus on wellbeing at work among companies who want to support their employees and thereby strengthen the foundations of their business. But statistics show much more could be done, especially when it comes to that significant (and really fun!) hurdle to workplace wellbeing: stress.

According to mental health charity, Mind, stress has caused 21% of employees to call in sick, 42% to consider resigning and 14% to actually leave their job. And turnover comes at a high cost, both in the general wellbeing of the team left behind, and the economic cost of finding, training and replacing the person who leaves.

But when asked whether they’d feel comfortable speaking openly about stress with their line manager, 30% of employees said no.

56% of employers said they wanted to do more to support wellbeing, but lacked appropriate guidance and training.

With these issues in mind, we’ve put together the following tips to help improve workplace wellbeing for your team and yourself:

1. Create a supportive company culture.

If you really want to support employee wellbeing, it has to begin with your company culture. So what does that mean, exactly? It means your business needs to prioritize open communication and honest feedback.

And to maintain an open, communicative company culture you need to respond empathetically and helpfully when employees come to you with problems. Even on days when you’re running on empty. For some tips on how to keep up your mental wellbeing so you can support your team, read our blog post on 5 neuroscientist-approved ways to build your emotional resilience.

Because long story short, if you don’t, your team might be discouraged from talking to you and problems will continue, with a detrimental effect on individual team members and the business as a whole.

To ensure that employees are responded to appropriately, it’s vital to provide training to line managers so they feel capable and prepared when it’s time to offer support to their team. Managers should also check in regularly to see if team members could benefit from any additional support.

2. Prioritize work-life balance for yourself and your team.

Poor work-life balance can cause stress and lead to absenteeism and presenteeism. This is true wherever people work, whether they’re working from home in the company of pets and tiny humans, or from company headquarters surrounded by coworkers to a soundtrack of coffee machines, notifications and typing noises.

In fact, the mass shift to remote working caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a rise in virtual presenteeism. 46% of employees feel the need to be more present, while more than a third are working when ill or suffering from poor mental wellbeing.

This is why, especially when people are working from home, it’s vitally important to set boundaries. As an employer, you can help here by setting expectations of when staff are expected to be working and (not less significantly) when they’re expected not to be.

A woman sits in front of a computer monitor on a desk, as she works from home.

Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Encourage breaks and make sure people are taking their holidays. That includes you too. Because first of all, you need to model the behaviors you want to see. But secondly and quite importantly, if you don’t take care of your own wellbeing, you can’t be there for your team.

3. Encourage healthy movement.

Regular exercise can build up our resilience to stress, so encouraging your team to take regular breaks to move throughout the workday is a good way to boost workplace wellbeing.

Building healthier habits, however, isn’t always easy and employees might feel overwhelmed with the demands of work and life on their time and energy.

Whether you organize work sports teams, offer yoga, pilates or zumba sessions as company benefits, or just encourage walks during breaks, regular exercise can improve mood, energy levels, sleep and overall health.

4. Give your team practical tools to build resilience.

Being there to support staff is important, but providing them with practical tools to build their resilience to stress and other challenges is invaluable.

With a mental wellbeing tool like Foundations, that employees can access 24/7 via their phones, they can learn evidence-based techniques to help them become more resilient and feel more able to handle whatever life throws at them.

5. Make sure remote staff are supported.

We’ve mentioned work-life balance and the unsettling (but perhaps not-so-surprising) phenomenon of virtual presenteeism, but that’s just one challenge to wellbeing for remote teams. Especially when working from home isn’t optional (aka is instituted as a measure of health and safety by the government) as it has been lately.

While some people may love the convenience of working where they live, others may be feeling isolated. Some remote employees who are caring for kids or other relatives may be struggling to keep stress in check, while others might be brimming with the almost inescapable health anxieties that abound in a global pandemic. Basically, people are dealing with a lot right now.

Communication is extra important with work-from-home staff in order to find out how they’re coping. And you need to make sure they have access to all the same support they would have in the workplace, whether that means assistance with IT problems or tools to help them work towards a more balanced mental wellbeing. You can learn more about supporting remote employees here.

6. Nurture a state of flow.

A state of flow, AKA being “in the zone”, comes about when you’re enjoyably immersed in an activity that matches your natural abilities and skills. In this state you’re focused on your task and time passes easily without you noticing (which is just as magical as it sounds).

As well as making people happier and work more enjoyable, people working in a state of flow are more productive and more creative (in the moment but also for days afterwards).

So how do you achieve flow? Set the right tasks for the right people, limit distractions, provide mental wellbeing resources and encourage exercise breaks. You can read more about getting yourself and your team in the zone in this post.

What are you doing to boost wellbeing in your workplace? Share your tips with us at foundations@koahealth.com.