Wellbeing in The Workplace
A key consideration in any business strategy.
By Inês Klinesmith, Journalist
Wellbeing at work is important. Wellbeing in life is essential.
I am fully aware of the struggles of having to be made feel like all is well all the time and in all aspects of life. The truth is, no one is. We are human. There are frustrations, complications, unexpected turns. For those who spend most of their waking hours at work, wellbeing at work is something to seriously consider, but which is often overlooked both by employers and employees. Happy employees are productive employees – I am certain of this. There are several ways in which employers can support their workforce.
Mental health is key in all of this – not only does it dictate our personal and professional emotional well-being, but it also shapes our physical health. Recent research carried out by Mental Health First Aid England suggests that in the UK – and I dare say that is likely to be the case most everywhere in Europe – the biggest cause of absence at work is depression, stress, and anxiety.
As an illustrative figure – and in order to understand the wider scope of the issue – approximately one in four people will experience a mental illness each year.
In 2016, 15.8 million UK work days were lost due to mental illness, according to the UK’s Office for National Statistics. The figures are likely to be as worrisome in most countries.
I chose a line of work, or rather it chose me, which brings on a lot of stress – deadline on top of deadline on top of sky-high expectations. As employees, we came together to think of solutions to help us deal with the physical and psychological manifestations of stress and anxiety and put them in place. We also had an employer who was willing to hear us out and who understood the necessity of implementing such measures.
Whether it is a daily yogalates session, a 10-minute stretch and breathing exercise, a monthly neck and back massage, a lunchtime frisbee game in the park, there are definitely things we can do to alleviate the pressure of nature of the job and become happier and more productive for it.
It is also a rather lonely position – while we all recruit each other’s help every so often, we are left to our own devices and our workload. So, group activities such as these, frisbee or yoga, bring us together, create a feeling of unity and belonging, which aids in the pursuit of happiness.
Above all, in a group or on our own, it is important to take time for ourselves at work – yes, during working hours.
Take a lunch break. Take a few minutes every few hours to stretch and take deep breaths, go for a walk, chat with a colleague.
Make a habit of it. I remind myself often that I am not alone in feeling what can be so overwhelming. I am not – you are not. Distancing yourself from work for a few minutes at a time every day will help you keep a sane mind (and body) and will, undoubtedly increase overall welfare and, with it, the quality of work.
In the UK, first aid training and emergency service provider St John’s Ambulance has recently launched Mental Health First Aid Training Courses. Not only does this allow first aiders to support colleagues, family, and friends, but most importantly it brings awareness of mental health to the forefront of the workplace. It starts a (much needed) conversation.
Wellbeing at work should not be thought of as something cool to have or something considered superficial. Rather, it should be a key consideration in any business strategy.
Inês is a multi-tasker, avid reader, and music listener, knowledge seeker and adventure chaser. She is passionate about people, effective communication and human rights. Among many other things, she believes in inclusivity, compassion, and intersectional feminism. To connect with Inês, click here.