Do you have an open-door policy for anyone feeling stressed, anxious or unhappy at work? How well do you think this culture of openness and honesty is being communicated to employees?
These are important questions for every HR team to answer right now. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed that 526,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing) in 2016/17. In the same year, 12.5 million working days were lost due to the same issues.
Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, who unearthed the data, said that the figures “show the enormous scale of the damage that mental illness does to individuals and the wider economy”.
Organisations failing to create a supportive culture and adequately address wellbeing are not just losing working days, of course; they’re seeing a loss of productivity and worst still, good people.
Creating a wellbeing strategy
Each organisation’s wellbeing strategy should be different, with a degree of flexibility, to cater for all the different personality types within the business. After all, people deal with stress in different ways. But, Neil Shah, chief de-stressing officer of The Stress Management Society, offers up a neat blueprint of how to create a wellbeing strategy, based on seven Es:
Engage: Creating a work environment that is a safe and inspiring place to be.
Exemplify: As a leader within the business, being an exemplary figure, encouraging others to do as you do.
Empathy: Understanding the difference between empathy and sympathy, and showing that you care.
Empower: Ensuring people are empowered to fulfil their potential and given the opportunities to show their best self.
Encourage: Embedding a model of positive feedback that encourages people to strive to do their best work – while encouraging them to have a voice and to speak up when they crave further opportunities.
Embed: It’s impossible to get a feel for someone’s wellbeing without ensuring regular conversations take place. People’s lives can quickly change. Ensure you have continuous conversations to keep track of where people are in their lives.
Evaluate: Constantly evaluate your approach, trying to find ways of improving it.
Part of ensuring that people can do their best work is giving them the right tools. Technology that is a poor fit for the organisation and its people can act as an unwanted, often overlooked, source of stress.
So, when you’re building a wellbeing strategy, don’t forget to consider the tools that people are using. While they’re unlikely to be the primary source of stress, they might be contributing to it.