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Wellbeing in the Workplace

This article was featured in Market people Magazine  written for the London Insurance Market, but it's message of supporting staff in the workplace is universal.  How do you currently support mental health and well-being within your organisation? Millennials are increasing rating this as a key requirement in a prospective employer, are you missing an opportunity to stand out from the crowd?

The insurance sector is facing a time of huge change within its working models and workforce. Mergers, acquisitions and digitalisation are leading to job insecurity and fear of constant change, often causing stress and anxiety. Many long term employees are now nearing retirement and millennials will soon make up the majority of the workforce. How to make insurance a destination of choice to attract and retain millennials is key to the development of the industry. The perception of a staid industry looking backwards not forwards needs to change, in order to ensure millennials consider it a worthwhile career. One of the ways to change this image is by focusing on the well-being and mental health of employees. The City Mental Health Alliance whose members include Deloitte and Goldman Sachs found 85% of graduates said their prospective employer’s policy or approach to mental health was important, with 83% more likely to apply to an employer who was more open about their commitment to mental health. Attracting talent to any organisation is now more about the full package not just the starting salary. Certainly millennials are asking: “What’s your approach to health and well-being, what support is in place?” Maybe this isn’t something you have previously considered.

Employee well-being programmes have an average Return on Investment (ROI) of £4.20 for every £1 invested as outlined in the Government's Thriving at Work report in 2017. When you consider the cost of stress and mental ill health in the workplace, as the statistics from Public Health England show below, there is an overwhelming case to engage in robust mental health and well-being strategies.

Before starting on a workplace well-being and mental health programme it is important to consider your organisational culture. There is now a wider appreciation across all generations, of the importance of a work-life balance incorporating flexible, remote working and employee satisfaction e.g. valuing personal fulfilment and purposeful work. Learning and development opportunities, including training and mentoring to job rotation, are also consistently high on the wish list of millenials. Companies are found to under-deliver in this area, creating an opportunity for competitive employers to stand out from the crowd.

Millennials want to feel connected at work, to interact with colleagues online as well as face to face, and in social activities, they want to be part of an organisational  culture, not just have a job. By developing well-being programmes you can link all these requirements and be an employer of choice.

Although when I work with businesses designing mental health and wellbeing strategies and facilitating training sessions including Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and developing resilience, I often find organisations are starting from a knee jerk reaction to a particular issue rather than stepping back and evaluating what is most effective for their businesses and employees.

Without stereotyping often older, male managers find the move to discussing well-being issues in the workplace difficult to transition, the old bravado of stiff upper lip and not talking about problems can prevad. It is therefore important to consider the impact on all employees at all levels when implementing strategies; to ensure those tasked with offering support also have appropriate support and training. There are a variety of steps you can take to implement a successful and meaningful mental health and well-being programme, which will support both employees and your business.

Organisational Commitment to Mental Health and Well-being

Senior level buy in Senior manager as mental health champion Awareness raising activities- e.g signing time to change pledge

Consult and Feedback Identify issues via employee surveys/consultations

Gather ideas from employees Produce plan with input across organisation Share, listen and listen again Policies and procedures Update to align with your principles Understand legal requirements Positive and open culture Value and reward employees, recognize achievements Openly share about mental health and wellbeing Promote healthy work/life balance Support social activities and healthy lifestyle Training and development Induction programme includes well-being Training for line managers Regular opportunities for feedback and learning Mental health first aiders at all levels Manage Mental Health Proactively tackle stigma Support employees to manage stress Share information on mental health and signposting Link to awareness raising days Provide right support Reasonable adjustments to support people back to work Provide confidential support service Support managers to feel confident to discuss mental health Flexible working policies By making some changes to a more open culture that listens, values and adapts you will be amazed at the impact on absenteeism, presentism and retention. More importantly it will be a place people want to work, a place that impacts their well-being positively, not negatively and surely we all want that.

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