Feature Article in The HR Director: Creating a holistic mental health & wellbeing programme for your workforce

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Poor mental health has emerged as a significant factor contributing to illness-related work absences, costing employers an estimated £45 billion in 2020 (Deloitte, 2020). Recognizing the need for long-term solutions, businesses are now shifting their focus towards embedding comprehensive wellbeing programs that address the “whole person” – encompassing various aspects that impact employees’ lives, including senior leaders.

As the business landscape evolves, employee expectations develop as well. Employers must take proactive measures to meet these expectations to maintain an engaged and productive workforce. Introducing programs encompassing all dimensions of wellbeing, particularly mental health, is a crucial first step. Mental health training for managers is an excellent starting point in this transformative process.

Establishing a holistic Mental Health & Wellbeing program for your organization can be achievable by following these steps:

1. Secure buy-in from senior stakeholders:
Convincing leaders within the organization is vital, as their support can make or break a wellness initiative. Clearly outline how a holistic approach can lead to a healthier, more engaged, and ultimately more productive workforce.

2. Promote cultural change to support holistic wellbeing:
Creating a culture that embraces a holistic approach requires engagement from both employees and senior managers. Involve staff at all levels in wellbeing decision-making through designated “wellbeing champions” and existing employee forums. This inclusivity helps educate employees about practical applications of mental health and wellbeing.

3. Provide comprehensive wellbeing resources:
Once senior stakeholders are on board and a supportive culture is established, it’s time to introduce specific resources and initiatives reinforcing the “whole person” approach. Some examples include:

– Mental health and stress management programs
– Physical wellbeing initiatives
– Financial management resources
– Career growth and learning opportunities
– Volunteering and community support

4. Use data to measure success:
Measure the effectiveness of wellbeing initiatives and inform the wellbeing strategy by gathering data from internal surveys, occupational health providers, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), and mental health first-aiders. This data serves as a benchmark for tracking progress.

5. Empower managers to take a proactive approach to mental wellbeing:
Equip managers with the necessary skills to address workforce mental wellbeing proactively. Mental wellbeing in the workplace courses that educates managers and leaders about the impact of mental health on the workplace. It provides insights into recognizing signs of poor mental health in employees and equips them with the confidence to engage in conversations about mental wellbeing.

Additionally, there are courses available that support managers in building more resilient teams, enabling them to manage work pressures and enhance performance effectively. Some managers focus on developing their employees’ resilience, equipping individuals with skills and knowledge to bolster their own resilience.

By implementing these steps, businesses can create a supportive environment that promotes their workforce’s overall mental health and wellbeing. Recognizing the importance of a holistic approach and investing in comprehensive programs will reduce work absences and contribute to a happier, more engaged, and highly productive workforce, ultimately benefiting both employees and employers alike.