With the rise in awareness of the term ‘mental health’, are employers any closer to really understanding what this means?
We hear the term anxiety, stress, bi polar and depression being frequently used, however these only describe describe the bi product of weeks, months and even years of inner turmoil.
The labels of anxiety or depression, as two of the most common mental health disorders, are an umbrella reference for the mental and physical breakdown of the mind and body. These conditions will always have root causes.
People don’t wake up one day anxious or depressed. These states of mind and body are a slow burn.
How depression can be developed
Let’s take the example of Mary.
Mary works in Publishing, and over the last 6 months her workload has slowly been increasing as a result of cuts being made to the companies headcount. Mary has been feeling the pressure of her increased workload along with an underlying fear of loosing her job. Mary is single and lives alone and doesn’t have anyone to support her financially.
Worries about loosing her job have started to compromise Marys sleep, and she is finding it increasingly difficult to switch off when she gets home. To help her relax, Mary has started to turn more frequently to red wine because she feels it takes the edge off. Marys energy levels have now started to dip considerably due to her broken sleep and her body processing the additional toxins as a result of her increased drinking.
She wakes feeling more tired and is now drinking more coffee to keep her going. Her dip in energy levels also means she has started to become less disciplined with her food choices and has been picking up convenience food for dinner on her way home from work and snacking on less healthy foods during the day.
At work she finds her ability to focus becoming a struggle and her motivation and productivity levels taking a significant drop.
As the weeks slip past Mary notices her stomach developing cramps and feeling bloated. Mary goes to her G.P. who tells her she has IBS and gives her medication. Mary tries to change her diet, but as she is feeling so fatigued, she finds herself going for what is quick and easy and hopes the medication will help her IBS. A combination of the IBS and her energy levels have also meant she is finding more and more reasons to stop exercising.
After a period of time, Mary is also feeling more emotional and overwhelmed and finding herself becoming tearful over small things. Normally a chirpy and confident person, Mary feels disconnected and is becoming more insular.
Mary goes back to her G.P. and is now told she has depression. She leaves with a prescription for anti depressants.
Had Mary had the insight of how to take care of herself mentally, emotionally and physically, could this have been a different story? Yes.
As the saying goes, knowledge is power.
The more employees are given the knowledge of the mind and body and how to build resilience and wellbeing, mental health conditions can be prevented. We can still teach employees about mental health, but if we are to prevent mental health in the long term, the training people receive need to show how these conditions are reached, and how to prevent them.
When Christmas and New Year are over it can be a challenge for employees to find the energy and motivation to bounce back into work.
Dark mornings, miserable weather, all the extra calories consumed over the festive period, and the psychological ‘start of a new year’ can all influence engagement levels in the workplace.
Combined with this, the New Year is a time where people reflect and consider what it is that they would like to change within their lives or within themselves.
Yet even the thought of creating change can be difficult for some employees. Lack of motivation and the New Year blues can have them reaching for the left over wine from Christmas.
This is why kicking off a wellbeing programme in January can be a great idea to energise your workforce and inspire them to discover new ways to feel good about themselves.
A lot of the focus in January tends to be on physical health with people looking to shed extra pounds, get fitter and eat more healthily.
Wellbeing programmes that educate people on how to get the best from their bodies by understanding more about the physiology of their body, how food influences mood and how to create all day long energy can be a great way to put health and vitality into the heart of your workforce.
The New Year can also prove difficult for many emotionally and mentally. Emotions may be running high due to family arguments over Christmas. There may be some people who have been alone over the festive period and are struggling with feelings of isolation and depression. Some people may be feeling emotionally overwhelmed because a member of the family has cancer and it could have been their last Christmas together.
Mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health. With 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health problem each year, the New Year can prove to be a positive time to launch a wellbeing programme to help your employees get the New Year off on the right track.
A wellbeing programme that delivers the knowledge, tools and resources needed to create a healthy mind set, new habits and emotional balance can be incredibly liberating and empowering for your employees.
All of which enhance focus, productivity and engagement.
If you would like help with ensuring your employees start 2016 feeling great, then contact us today for your complimentary wellbeing analysis.
There is greater commercial evidence to suggest that having a wellbeing strategy not only helps to create a happy and healthy workforce but also makes a significant difference to the bottom line.
So much so that on a recent webinar hosted by HR Zone, a Wellbeing representative from Oracle advised that the company had so far saved over £1 million in sickness absence by introducing resilience training in 2014.
There are naturally more tangible benefits to having a proactive wellbeing strategy including;
- Reduced attrition rates
- Reduced cost of absence
- Lower number of days absence across the business
- Lesser number of employees on long term sick leave
- Reduction in the number of employee relations cases
- Greater net profit
Yet what about the less tangible (and we would suggest more valuable) benefits of having a wellbeing strategy. From our experience of working with organisations to support their wellbeing strategy, we see these as;
- Increased engagement levels across the workplace
- Greater flexibility in the workplace through the use of flexible working practices and family friendly policies
- Improved customer and client feedback and scores
- Reduced presenteeism
- High performing people and teams
- Greater harmony and cohesive working amongst people
- Winning awards such as Britain’s Healthy Company and the Times Top 100 companies to work for
We would even go one step further to say the value of having a wellbeing strategy ensures that;
- More employee’s go home and say ‘today was a great day!’ to their partners
- Smile at each other
- Tell their friends “I love my job!’
- People are capable of going the extra mile without damaging their health
With a guaranteed return on investment, creating and implementing a wellbeing strategy could be the most commercial move yet for your business.
and find out how we can support you with your wellbeing strategy.
Resilience; The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
According to the Oxford English dictionary, resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. In business terms, what does that actually mean?
Many savvy organisations are beginning to turn their attention to the concept of resilience training for employees as a means to reduce or manage absence proactively in the workplace and enhance employee performance.
Over recent years and particularly in the face of challenging economic times, organisations have started to make the link that resilient employees perform better, have greater sustained energy and the ability to bounce back far quicker than those who are less resilient, stressed and unable to cope with setbacks or change.
Resilient employees are able to “roll with the punches” and adapt to adversity without lasting difficulties; less resilient employees have a harder time with stress and life changes, both major and minor. When employees have the knowledge and skills required to be more resilient on a physical, emotional and mental level, they perform at an enhanced level.
A workforce characterised by low resilience levels often demonstrates higher than average levels of absence, challenges with presenteeism and lower levels of morale and employee engagement, team building and cognition. Growing research suggests that organisations faced with this in the workplace are more likely to see a decline in competitive advantage, market share and profitability.
Resilient individuals make resilient employees. The ability of resilient employees to stay motivated, control stress and enjoy life translates into bottom line results.
Harvard Business School reviewed what was key in order for organisations to move forward and grow successfully. The four key factors were;
- Perspective Taking
Even low levels of stress rob an individual of the ability to do any of these because of the physiological impact on the mind and body. Therefore, for organisations to not only survive but move forward, providing employees with the knowledge, skills and tools to develop and maintain resilience is a key investment.
Would you like to know more about how resilience training can help to transform your workforce? Contact us today and find out how we can help support you to create a workforce fit for the future.