Director Elemental CoSec
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Promoting employee wellbeing

16th Apr 2018
Director Elemental CoSec
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Are your people advocates for success? In particular, what steps are you taking as an organisation to encourage, empower and engage your people? The good news is that UK business must be doing something right. Engagement is very closely linked with productivity, a measure which has caused considerable disquiet since the financial crash but which now appears to be rising at the fastest rate in a decade. Having said that, any rise in productivity is coming from a very low base and therefore there is probably some way to go before we can be certain about the strength of any recovery.

That there is some improvement is indicative of a growing awareness at boardroom level of the vital role which employees have to play in promoting success. For example, in my last article on this site “risk is a state of mind” I examined the way in which helping employees to engage with risk awareness could bring about a far more effective risk management outcome. In this article I’m moving on to another area which is increasingly moving up the boardroom agenda, the mental well-being of employees. So much so that a recent BUPA report revealed that mental health is now a boardroom priority for two thirds of UK businesses. Moreover, for 29% of UK businesses, the mental health of employees has eclipsed physical well-being as an area for concern.

Supporting mental well-being

Now let’s be honest, having regard for the interests of employees is one of the key elements of promoting the success of a company under the Companies Act 2006. And in this context, having regard to the interests of employees goes far beyond any mere duties under health and safety or other legislation. Perhaps that’s why the BUPA report also revealed that 96% of companies actively wanted to support the mental well-being of their employees. However, 57% were unsure about the best way to provide support.

This isn’t really surprising, particularly when you consider the wide range of mental well-being issues which could occur. For example, whilst some employees may have ongoing issues for which any support within the business would merely be an adjunct to external therapies, other mental well-being issues may have arisen as a result of business processes or requirements. Nevertheless, whatever the underlying trigger, businesses which approach mental well-being issues with openness and understanding and which look to provide solutions on an individual basis are far more likely to engage with people in this area.

For some, the solution may well be to offer a flexible working pattern in which individuals not only feel there is no pressure to attend at set hours, they also understand that their mental well-being comes before any timesheet obligation. For others, the business may look to offer additional training or to rearrange duties in order that a potential cause of anxiety can be better managed. For example, if an employee feels uncomfortable talking to people in a one-to-one situation, appropriate training in communication skills may help to relieve the anxiety. Further training may help to boost self-awareness and self confidence but should the employee still report levels of anxiety then it may be appropriate to consider restructuring their duties.

Providing appropriate training in this way not only helps to address employee well-being issues, by demonstrating to employees that the business cares about them as individuals, it can also help to boost levels of engagement thereby further improving productivity levels and helping them to be advocates for your success.

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