Talking about your feelings isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Particularly in a workplace environment. However business owners and leaders should take some responsibility in supporting the mental wellbeing of their people; just as they would in supporting someone with a physical illness or disability.
Talking helps many people to cope with their problems. It doesn’t require any qualifications or special skills (although learning and practice can help us to improve those skills) And is something that can be facilitated within any workplace, particularly in the less formal environment of the staff room. Here are some of the reasons why talking really helps:
  • Worries that stay in your mind can grow. Cognitive thought distortions can also be at play and can very easily become something much bigger. And there may not be any evidence to back up those thoughts but it plays over until it becomes very real. By verbalising those thoughts and/or writing them down it helps us to better make sense of what is going on up in our minds and helps us to more easily find a practical solution
  • Talking helps to strengthen ties with other people. It helps us to connect over shared experiences and knowledge. Connecting is one of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing because of the bond that is created. So not just from a practical viewpoint- talking helps us to be proactive in maximising our wellbeing
  • Just being listened to helps us to feel as though we are being supported. You will have heard of ‘a problem shared is a problem halved.’ Very often the listener doesn’t need to say very much and be there to simply listen. All that is required is that judgements are left at the door. No matter what the person is going through- that is their experience. And having someone just to listen who is non-judgemental can really be a huge support for someone who is going through a difficult time- particularly if they are unable to seek the support of a loved one or partner.
Talking is also a way to release some of the internal pressures that a person is feeling. Getting it out is much better for mental wellbeing than holding onto everything within. Given that we spend much more of our time in work than outside of work it is really beneficial to create environments that are conducive to people getting together, getting to know each other and have a chat. So they are getting this release, and support while they are in work rather than carrying it and keeping hold of it.
Here are some practical top tips to create a brilliant staff room environment to help people to relax and connect:
Have a separate space for conversations. It may not be possible to physically separate but using zoning such as a ‘mobile free zone’ can be great at encouraging staff to get to know each other
  • Is the space relaxing? Get a couple of lamps in there and some cushions. Straight away the atmosphere is softened and can be done at very little cost
  • Fun activities- the space may be big enough for a pool table but if not have board games and books and magazines available for people to use
  • Get rid of old chipped mugs. They can be very cheaply replaced at Ikea. Make the space inviting for a brew and a chat. Nice clean mugs; a stock of teas, coffee and milk- will all help to make the difference in staff members choosing to be in the shared space in their break
  • Maintain it! Throw out old magazines and newspapers and replace them. Keep the space tidy and clean. Make it a space that people want to be in. As this also has the added benefit of encouraging people away from their desks to take a real break from work too!
Creating bonds between staff members in the workplace; creating spaces for people to chat, get to know each other; can all have a real positive impact on employee wellbeing in the workplace. It can be conducive to people getting the support they need much earlier which usually leads to a much quicker recovery
I can support the workplace culture change with more formal training and education so please get in touch to discuss your wellbeing agenda and training requirements!
Jennifer Rawlinson, Director and Trainer of Flourish in Mind Ltd