The last 12 months have highlighted the importance required by employers in taking employee’s mental health and wellbeing seriously. We have been socially distanced from our friends, family and work colleagues. We have been confined to the same four walls for a prolonged period and our freedom has been temporarily taken away. For the most resilient person, these lifestyle changes are certainly tough. So what happens when an employee perhaps already struggles with their mental health and well-being?

We spend approximately 1/3 of our lifetime at work. During this time, if we can feel supported, valued and listened to, we are more likely to remain with an employer.  Most businesses already document their “commitment” to employee wellbeing and mental health. Those who don’t actually apply it in practise are the ones that fall down. This is why it is imperative that organisations incorporate an all-encompassing approach to mental health and wellbeing at each stage of the employee lifecycle. This enables organisations to move away from a “documented commitment” to it being engrained within the culture of the organisation.

There are six key areas within the employee lifecycle and this blog will explore each of these areas in detail. In collaboration with Naomi Berry, HR Consultant at The Progeny Group this blog will explore the positivity associated with having an embedded wellbeing strategy. We’ll also be providing tips on how to strategically achieve this. Keep on reading to find out more.

Diagram showing the six key areas within the employee lifecycle.

  1. Attraction

Attracting new employees all starts with a job advertisement. The wording used within this should convey the organisational culture to ensure that candidates with the same values are attracted to apply. It isn’t just about providing the technicalities of a job but selling the recruiting organisation too.  Naomi highlights how important it is that the company website and social media platforms are consistent in the messages they are conveying. This sits alongside the candidate’s ability to form a first impression of the organisation.  Information such as ‘a day in the life of….’ or an employee account of ‘what it’s like to work here’ can be another great way of strengthening an organisation’s ability to attract suitable candidates.

While it is imperative for organisations to have the right people in their organisation; it’s also important for people to feel part of the team. Work should be a place where they can live out their own personal values in line with the branch of social wellbeing.

  1. Recruitment

It is essential that those recruited have the right level of skill for the job or a clear plan to ensure they are developed to the required level. This is essential for an individual to feel they play their part in the achievement of organisational goals and milestones. When a person feels they are contributing, it helps to improve their overall sense of wellbeing. During the recruitment process, organisations have the opportunity to share with their prospective team members details of the support available to them regarding overall wellness. It is a good opportunity to convey the message that they care about their people and to highlight some of the initiatives in place.

It’s more likely that employees are moving roles on a more regular basis. Organisations need to remember that the interview process is a two-way process. Candidates need to sell their skills and attributes, but organisation also need to sell why they are such a fantastic company to join.

  1. On-boarding

The onboarding process is another opportunity to further embed and reinforce those messages of a wellness culture. This could include more detailed information on specific processes and policies. For instance, signposting to Employee Assistance Programmes and detailing what these can be used for. There are so many wellness resources that go underutilised because people don’t realise how valuable it can be. Showcasing who the wellbeing champions or mental health first aiders are within the organisation and how to contact them is also extremely helpful.

Naomi highlights that onboarding isn’t just for new team members but should also be extended to employees who have been promoted internally or moved into a new role or department. This is so often missed but there can sometimes be slightly different internal cultures, and new ways of working which may need to be embraced. This is compounded by the individual perhaps feeling more vulnerable at this time due to change. They may have a new team, working with people they’ve never met before. A really important time to re-emphasise the support available.

  1. Learning and Development

Even down to the training provided to line managers with a focus on supportive leadership styles and management practice. Other great topics to help promote a positive wellness culture are participation, delegation, constructive feedback, mentoring and coaching. This all ties in with social wellbeing, and the types of relationships that people have with both their manager and their colleagues. The skills to respond sensitively; being able to show vulnerability are other areas to educate leaders on.

Ensuring people have the skills to spot the signs of mental ill-health as well as the signs of presenteeism, often disguised as the ‘perfect employee’. Providing mental health awareness training at all levels of the organisation helps to normalise conversations. Lunch and Learn sessions can be really effective. They allow sharing of real-life experiences and how people have been supported through work to promote further the support available. “It’s okay not to be okay.”

  1. Progression and Performance

Lack of autonomy is a major cause of stress. Consideration to job design is important, particularly when you look at the social aspects of wellbeing. People connect to their own personal values through the work that they do. Helping them to see the part they play in the wider organisation helps people to feel as though they are making a valuable contribution. Monitoring workload not only adheres to the HSE guidance on the duty of care to reduce stress. It helps people to be more productive. Operating flexibly is great but ensuring staff have the tools to do so effectively is vital. This could be their physical set up, the technology, through to how to manage the mindset as well.

When dealing with underperformance there should be awareness to ask the right questions and understand the bigger picture. This will help to find out what the underlying cause of the underperformance is. This ensures appropriate support can be provided. Naomi highlights the importance of occupational health referrals being used proactively. They can positively be used as a support mechanism for both employers and employees. They can provide support to managers in understanding how to better support their team members and they shouldn’t just be solely used when people are on long term sick.

  1. Separation/ Off-boarding

Here we are referring to support for individuals exiting an organisation, both in terms of career as well as wellness. There are lots of organisations and support available that employees can be signposted to depending on circumstances such as government funding, skills funding, Ad:Venture, outplacement support. Celebrate and wish them well- a thank you goes a long way. Word of mouth recommendation. The benefits of focussing on the wellbeing of your people are far reaching. It helps you to demonstrate legalities such as compliance with the Equality Act 2010. It also works towards the duty of care to employees as set out by the HSE.

So how do I take the next step forward?

There are cost savings of your people being well and feeling happy in work. From reduced absenteeism and presenteeism; to a reduction in the number of grievances. When staff are happier there is more morale, your people are more engaged and committed. This directly impacts their productivity. When people are engaged, they are less likely to leave. This can reduce staff turnover and the costs associated with recruitment. It keeps those with quality skills within the business. Ultimately when people feel good, they are more likely to give a much better level of service to customers, both internal and external.

At Flourish in Mind our ethos is about providing education about mental health to enable workplaces where all individuals can flourish. We put the employee at the heart of what we do, and work with organisations taking a strategic approach to wellbeing. This ensures what we deliver reaps benefits for the future, beyond the training that we provide.

If you are keen to provide mental health training for your people, we would love a no obligation chat with you to help you to find an appropriate way forward. Similarly, if you’re unsure of how to implement a wellbeing strategy or have some HR questions, contact Naomi. She is happy to provide free consultations of up to 1 hour for readers of this blog.  

Naomi Berry, HR Consultant naomi.berry@theprogenygroup.com

Jennifer Rawlinson, Director and Lead Trainer jennifer.rawlinson@flourishinmind.co.uk