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Workplace wellbeing: it’s all about the people

Posted on July 19, 2022

The increased focus on having good mental health these days can only be positive and that includes creating a healthy workplace. In the past if anyone displayed unusual behaviour we used to conclude that they were just not able to cope or their head’s gone. As a consequence people suffered in silence. We know now that it’s an indicator that something’s not working as it should and we can intervene.

I’ve been around for a while and have run my own business for three decades. There’s no doubt that in that time I have suffered from stress, anger, and anxiety, mostly about things that I couldn’t change, so I changed myself and I changed my outlook and it’s influenced the workplace I have created.

You know whether you are good at health and safety because if you are, nothing happens. As such you know when you are bad at it because something does happen. Mental health though is different. We know small interventions can have a big impact even if we never find out what that might have been.

A sense of belonging

It’s clear that workplace culture is one of the top factors linked to employee happiness and wellbeing. That and the fact that any job is all about the people.

Mental health charity, Mind, says that at least one in six workers experience mental health problems such as anxiety and depression and that work can actually be the biggest cause of stress in our lives.

Going to work has to be more than just to earn money because large parts of our lives are spent there, so that environment has to be positive and there has to be some sense of fulfilment and enjoyment. Work shouldn’t be a chore, there should be multiple benefits and not just pecuniary ones.

The key to wellbeing in the workplace is about engendering a sense of belonging which is critical for business performance and progress. Belonging is inherently inclusive and allows people to bring their authentic selves to work.

The best companies know this. People who feel a strong sense of belonging are more productive and more likely to contribute at their full potential. The best companies also know that ultimately they are nothing without a happy healthy workforce and reap the rewards accordingly.

The office environment

The office environment has changed over time and easy interventions are being adopted on a much wider scale. The effect of plants in offices (biophilia), blinds on windows, natural light, comfortable and ergonomic furniture and break out areas are now more common.

An office has to be practical and functional but not mitigate against wellbeing. Research has shown that office design boosts the happiness of employees by 33 per cent and has a larger impact than temperature, light, noise, and even social interaction levels.

Screen breaks and communal activities that encourage healthy minds and bodies like Pilates, Yoga and Mindfulness have become popular too. At Courtley, for example, we have regular social events like barbeques and also we have table tennis, pool, table football and darts to encourage our people away from their desks at certain times of day.

Making time for yourself

There’s a lot of employers can do, but there’s also a lot that individuals can do for themselves. As I’ve mentioned I’ve had stressful periods through my life and Sefton Park has always been my ‘go to’ place. It’s nature in a city, it gives you a place and space to think and regroup.

Everybody needs a Sefton Park; everybody needs somewhere they can go to breathe and gather their thoughts. If you can do that then sometimes the problems don’t feel as unsurmountable. It’s about making better choices and making time for them. We make time for our physical appearance, the gym and good diets, but we shouldn’t forget about what’s up top.

If you can follow the words of the Serenity Prayer: “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference” then I believe you’ve cracked it.

As a leader in my business I have as significant influence over the people I employ and what I do not regard them as mere payroll numbers. They are people who have their own lives, difficulties and concerns and if I can help make them ‘own’ their jobs as well as help ease them through difficult periods, I will.

For people with physical impairments employers are required to make “reasonable adjustments”, and I believe we should do the same for people with mental health issues. It’s not beyond the wit of man to do that in this day and age.

Ultimately, it’s all about the people. It’s about getting the work place culture right to enable people to feel at home. Culture is after all, the shadow of the leader.

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