As we reflect on 2021, it is very clear that mental health and wellbeing has been an integral part of our focus in the workplace. So the question is what this will look like for your organisation in 2022?
This blog identifies the 5-steps to help build and implement a successful wellbeing plan into your organisation in 2022, with a focus on the financial, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical and social wellbeing of the workforce:
- WHAT does the mental health & wellbeing of our company look like currently?
- WHAT mental health & wellbeing problem(s) do we wish to solve?
- WHY do we want/need to solve our mental health problems?
- WHEN do we want to solve our mental health problems?
- HOW do we plan to solve our mental health problems?
Through many years of supporting businesses in building and implementing wellbeing strategies, I have used a vast array of wellbeing interventions. In this blog I will share with you the key steps that will bring your wellbeing strategy to life!
WHAT does the mental health & wellbeing of our company look like currently?
A good place to start when considering what steps to take on a wellbeing journey is to ask the question, what does the mental health & wellbeing of our company look like now? This should include looking at what strategies and interventions are currently in place, if any.
It is also vitally important to understand and measure the wellbeing of the workforce. This can be done through a variety of means:
- Comprehensive staff wellbeing surveys
- Staff pulse surveys
- Sickness absence rates
- Managers 1-2-1’s with their teams
- Anecdotal information shared though line managers/ HR/ health & safety/ other areas of the business
WHAT mental health & wellbeing problem(s) do we wish to solve?
One mistake many businesses make when implementing wellbeing solutions, is not having clarity as to the problem they are solving. For example, introducing and upskilling a team to become Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA’s) can be an incredibly important step. However, if the problem is the lack of flexibility in working hours for the workforce, then simply having MHFA’s alone, isn’t likely to have much impact.
Using the information gained from question one will help formulate a strategy targeting the specific problem areas.
3. WHY do we want/need to solve our mental health problems?
What is the motivation behind your decisions to implement wellbeing solutions into the workforce?
The reason this question is so important to answer is because this will determine the actions you take, but more importantly highlight whether the motivation is business focussed, or employee focussed…. Hint: It needs to be employee focussed!
WHEN do we want to solve our mental health problems?
This question will help you formulate a plan, which may include actions to take in the short, medium and long term. The type of problem may naturally point to the timeframe needed e.g., a high degree of workplace stress reported, may trigger running a Health & Safety Executive (UK) company stress audit immediately. The outcomes from this may require a longer-term solution.
HOW do we plan to solve our mental health problems?
This question offers the most opportunity for interventions. I will explore them here by sharing the three key stages of intervention, and the key steps that can be taken:
a) Prevention (before a mental health issue develops)
They say that prevention is better than cure, and that is true in many instances. The following are some key areas to focus on when creating and implementing measures which reduce or remove the risk of mental illness developing in the first place.
One of the most impactful preventative interventions can be when managers help create an environment that fosters open communication around mental health within their team. This may be directly through 1-2-1’s or within team discussions. Leading by example by openly sharing personal stories (if comfortable in doing so), and routinely ensuring team meeting agendas including topics around wellbeing can help achieve this.
Introducing new policies into the business which consider the psychological safety of the workforce, is an excellent way to build a successful framework. These need to be clear enough so managers know what to do, but not so prescriptive that they don’t allow for the individual needs of the person. An example could include flexible working hours (especially if working from home); managing absence through mental illness; return to work policy; new starter wellbeing induction policy.
Other preventative interventions could include a focus on physical health through gym memberships, yoga classes on site, walking or running groups. Mental, emotional, and spiritual health interventions could include on-site mindfulness meditation classes, and structured social events.
Company wide promotion of wellbeing through intranet, posters and town meeting is a great way to reinforce messages around mental health and wellbeing.
b) Intervention (during a period of poor mental health)
This simply means imminent action taken to address the emotional wellbeing of a staff member when in a state of poor mental health
How to start and manage effective conversations around mental health is a skill that can be gained through attending training sessions, as this helps managers and colleagues to identify any issues that may be present. Managers are highly likely to be able to spot a (concerning) change in their team, due to their working proximity, paying attention to any physical, emotional, and behavioural changes. Signposting to appropriate professional services may be the next step. All the above helps to help build a culture of trust which is essential.
Introducing Wellness Action Plans (WAP) into the team can be a great way to pro-actively and re-actively address any mental health issues. A WAP is a document used between a line manager and team member and is used informally to discuss current mental health issues or any mental health risks to the individual and form a plan to address them. It can be used across all three key stages of intervention (a, b, c).
c) Protection (ongoing support after an episode has been experienced)
Protecting employee’s mental health means providing care and support following a period of poor mental health. This could be being part of a rehabilitation plan to enable the employee to return to full fitness or taking the necessary steps to implement reasonable adjustments to accommodate the person’s state of mental health.
As you can see there is an incredible amount of opportunity when building and developing a wellbeing programme into you organisation. To ensure it targets the right areas always use the 5-step questions to help get you started.
Yohan McDonald is the owner and founder of Great Minds – Workplace Wellbeing. He has been delivering mental health and wellbeing training, and consulting organisations across a wide variety of sectors since 2015. Training includes mental health awareness, stress management, mental health first aid, and resilience workshops. He can provide further information regarding any of the above to help you and your organisation, create a wellbeing programme fit for purpose.
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