Five things any company can do to improve workplace mental wellbeing right now

Mental wellbeing in the workplace – it’s a journey

We know businesses need to do more to support workplace mental wellbeing, but even the smallest change can make a huge difference. 

“Everyone needs to look after their mental wellbeing, and I’d like to run a national study on mental health!” 

That’s what Sophie Holland, one of our brilliant research executives, told me in a meeting in June last year. At Opinium we encourage everyone to explore their own passions and research ideas. We like big ideas and we like ideas that help make a difference. Since then we’ve been on quite an adventure, launching the Opinium Workplace Mental Wellbeing Audit  with support from Warwick Medical School approving the inclusion of their ‘Warwick-Edinburgh mental wellbeing scale’. The scale allows us the advantage of an academically rigorous measure of wellbeing to add to our audit of general wellbeing, absence and illness, culture of support, and openess. So far we’ve audited the mental wellbeing of the UK workforce, and offered our audit measure for free to large associations and membership organistaions in the marketing, advertising, PR, research and branding worlds. This means that we’re currently conducting the first ever workplace mental wellbeing of marcoms-land, with thanks to The Drum, the MRS, PRCA, CIPR and WiPR. 

So how can you improve mental wellbeing at your company?

Before I reveal the five simple initiatives, highlighted from our study that any company can do to improve workplace mental wellbeing right now, there are two simple overarching hacks which will lay the foundation to success; to listen to your employees to find out what support would be helpful to them, and, create an environment where they feel safe and able to be open about their mental wellbeing in the workplace.

Once you’ve listened to them and have the right environment, the most effective way to achieve improved levels of wellbeing in your workplace is to embed mental wellbeing into your company culture by incorporating some of the the initiatives below. While most of our studies are still in the field, some of the interim results back are fascinating, especially where we are able to undrestand which workplace mental wellbeing initiatives are having the greatest positive effects.

As expected, the research shows us that employees who’s workplace offers nothing to support mental wellbeing have significantly lower mental wellbeing scores. Unsurprising!

But, from our interviews with hundreds of employees and our quantitative data, here are the workplace wellbeing initiatives that business can implement that will have the most positive impact on their team’s mental wellbeing, in order:

  1. Mentoring scheme in place within the company
  2. Mandatory or encouraged breaks
  3. Exercise / recreational classes at lunch or after work
  4. Introduce duvet / mental health days
  5. Have a mental health first aider
  6. Monitoring of mental well-being to understand their employees (surveys)

None of these are particularly challenging to implement. Even if your business chooses to pick only one of these, it would make a huge difference. We haven’t finished analysing the data yet, but we assume that it would be a combination of initiatives that provide the most positive effect on a workplaces mental wellbeing overall.

 

If you’d like to hear more about our work, email me on jamesendersby@opinium.co.uk, I’d love to help.