The festive season is just upon us with less than a month until Christmas! While for many people this brings on much excitement and joy, for others this is not always the case. A lot of stress, anxiety and loneliness is on the cards, and this can play up both at home and in the workplace. According to Mental Health Foundation, 14.7% of employees experience mental health problems in the workplace. Showing support and care for your employees’ wellbeing and mental health is becoming a growing responsibility of organisations.
What is wellbeing? In years gone by, employee wellbeing mainly referred to whether an employee was healthy / ill physically. Bupa describes being healthy is merely the “absence of illness.” However there’s been a massive shift as nowadays employee wellbeing is being approached holistically to include physical, emotional, financial and psychological. A positive / negative state of mind, anxiety levels and how a work-life balance impacts an employee’s outlook to life also blends into their wellbeing.
Recent research done by the Government on worker wellbeing and workplace performance suggests that improving wellbeing will result in increased workplace performance, profitability and quality of output. Employers can have a strong influence on one’s sense of wellbeing in the way business is conduct, how much autonomy is given to employees and what the team culture exudes. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to increase wellbeing in the workplace, but there are certainly factors which can bolster wellbeing.
Is the festive season really the most wonderful time of the year? Mental health and wellbeing is something which needs all year round consideration, however extra attention should be given at this time due to peaks in stress levels. There are so many circumstances for this - increased workload and longer hours to hit end of year deadlines, the pressure of balancing work with increased family duties, the looming end of year targets, not feeling valued – the list is endless. Thus the direct correlation between stress and wellbeing. If one is overly stressed and anxiety is high, there will automatically be decreased commitment, engagement and motivation.
So what can managers and HR do to improve wellbeing in the lead up to Christmas?
1. Embrace the festive spirit Embrace the festivities and get the whole team involved. Book an end of year function and let your team let their hair down and have some fun together, decorate the office with a token tree, encourage team moments with a Secret Santa gift exchange, have a Christmas jumper day and donate the raised money to charity. There’s so much to get involved with that can lighten the mood and make everyone feel a part of the team.
2. Employee Assistance Programme This time of year rings alert bells for some, so offer support and guidance for your team. Whether it’s a formal Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) where employees have access to telephone / 1-1 counselling, or something less formal like having an open door policy where employees can come chat about any issues on hand confidentially. This support can help reduce any pressures employees may be struggling with, such as loneliness, financial pressures etc.
3. Show appreciation There’s no better time to show appreciation and say thank you to your employees for a job well done and their hard efforts. By ending the year on a high with a happy team can be a catalyst for starting the new year with a bang. This recognition can improve motivation and mental wellbeing especially during difficult times. Give your team either financial / non-financial rewards and give them the public recognition they deserve. Encourage your team to do peer-to-peer recognition and the acknowledgment between colleagues and cross management levels will definitely boost wellbeing and encourage a more engaged team.
4. Be Zen Why not get an in-house yoga instructor to come give some classes in the lead up to Christmas? Or leave some sharpies in the lunch room with colouring books for a therapeutic session of colouring in? Possibly sign your team up to meditation apps including HeadSpace and Calm? There’s nothing better than letting the steam off with some Zen techniques to encourage your team to unwind. There is a huge emphasis on mindfulness in the workplace as there’s so much research done to show the positive effects such as improved decision-making and strategic thinking, boosted creativity, employee engagement and happier, less stressed teams.
5. Say no and delegate It’s so easy to take on too much while trying to cram everything in by Christmas and the New Year. Don’t forget to delegate as you can’t be expected to do everything, or even better, learn to say no and stand your ground. Ask for help, people love lending a hand wherever needed. Remember demands at work and home can be sky-high leaving people feeling stressed, overwhelmed and unhappy. This can result in real anxiety, where people often feel down and less able to cope with extended pressures.
Staff Treats offers employee benefits and perks in order to improve engagement in the workplace and employee wellbeing. If you’d like to find out how your company can benefit, speak to one of our Engagement Consultants today.