“I’m not sleeping properly, I wake up feeling tired, I can’t concentrate or think clearly. I have started to loose my confidence and struggle to make a decision. Most days I feel a knot of anxiety in my stomach”
Sadly, this is an all too common story when it comes to employee wellbeing in the workplace.
With a sixth of employees experiencing a mental health problem at any one time and stress, anxiety and depression thought to be responsible for almost half of working days lost in Britain due to health issues, the relationship between mental health and the workplace is a complex one.
Twelve years I spent a significant amount of time as an HR Manager tackling employee wellbeing in the workplace issues such as stress, absence, long term sick cases and trying to keep both the costs and statistics down. In one organisation the cost of absence was over £450,000 a year – and that was just the contact centre of 300 employees.
The solution to this continued challenges around health and wellbeing in employees didn’t present itself until I began studying Psychotherapy and Hypnotherapy. Only a third of the way into my training the answer became clear. I had spent the entire weekend studying stress and the stress response and clearly recall thinking how little people knew about what stress really was, let alone the signs of it.
In that moment I recognised that if employees had access to even some of the information I was absorbing, how this could literally transform the health of workforces globally. I saw the need to proactively provide business resilience training was the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle.
Training and development budgets are often spent on technical skills training or management development, but leave a void in educating people how to manage the way they think and behave and giving them the information and tools to build resilience.
Business resilience is a 21st Century necessity
For a business to have a long term future, business resilience is a 21st century necessity. Employees are the key resource in an organisation. Employees are the ones who generate ideas about new products and services, and can make the difference between the success and failure of an organisation.
If you want a highly resilient workforce that will deliver value in the long term employee wellbeing in the workplace has to be up on the strategic agenda.
The rise in stress and the resulting cost of employees’ absence to organisations is creating a change of direction with leading organisations including PWC, Apple, Virgin Media, BUPA International, Google and Domestic and General putting wellbeing at the top of their organisation’s strategic agenda.
These organisations recognise the value of business resilience training to enhance performance both in the workforce and the market place.
‘The business case for promoting and supporting employee health and wellbeing is becoming increasingly clear. Employers can gain clear benefits in reducing employee turnover and increasing the productivity and engagement of their employees.’ (CIPD)
Absence is not the only factor which affects business. Findings from the Centre for Mental Health show that those who are working, who are experiencing stress, will struggle to focus and concentrate, make good business decisions and work well with other people, among other things.
According to the latest report from Deloitte published in January 2020 the cost of poor mental health has increased in the UK to £45bn – This is made up of absence costs of around £7bn, presenteeism costs ranging from about £27bn to £29bn and turnover costs of around £9bn.
A strong workforce is a smart workforce
Put simply, when your employees are stressed they cannot perform. Stress is the firing of the fight and flight response, the survival response. During this response a series of physical responses occur in the body enabling a person to act instinctively and quickly.
One of these responses is shutting down the frontal cortex of the brain – the thinking brain, allowing a person to respond based on primal instinct. Great for short term survival when you are under real threat. Not so great when the perceived threat is a disagreement with a colleague, a presentation looming or a deadline at work.
Stress was only ever designed to be a short term survival response to keep us safe. These days people are feeling stressed on a daily basis. Over time performance at work is significantly compromised. People start to perform from a basis of survival. They loose control of their ability to manage their emotions, become defensive, struggle to take a different perspective, take things more personally – not factors for high performance.
Savvy organisations are turning their attention to business resilience training as a means to reduce or manage stress in the workplace and enhance performance.
In place of the ‘tick box’ stress risk assessment audits, we are beginning to see more in the form of business resilience training and coaching. Over recent years and particularly in the face of challenging economic times, organisations have started to make the link that resilient people perform better, have greater sustained energy and the ability to bounce back far quicker than those who are less resilient and able to cope with setbacks.
This is not a new concept in the sporting world. We see athletes and sports professionals developing their resilience alongside their technical skill, in order to allow them to come back after each tournament or game and compete. We see sports coaches working alongside sporting professionals to develop what can be termed ‘the inner game’, yet businesses have been slow to catch on to why this is vital for peak performance.
We know that performance isn’t simply about managing stress and pressure more effectively.
To perform well people in the workplace need to be capable of being imaginative, creative, good decision makers, able to find solutions, stay strong in the face of adversity and lead people from the helm, engaging the hearts and minds of their team – all of which require a foundation of resilience.
Harvard Business School reviewed what was key in order for organisations to move forward and grow successfully. The four key factors were;
- Perspective Taking
Stress and feeling overwhelmed prevents an individual from being able to do any of the above.
Business resilience training needs to be consistent
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s not enough to run a one off business resilience training course and expect a fully resilient workforce!
As with any kind of learning, the most effective is that which is delivered consistently. However, we know that getting trainers in to run sessions on business resilience regularly isn’t always cost effective.
That’s why we created a cost effective digital solution to bring business resilience training to your employees day and night through The Employee Wellbeing Portal.
“90% of life is about remaining calm.” Dr. Chris Feudtner
Sara Maude, a seasoned solution-focused psychotherapist, Transformational Coach, Hypnotherapist, and EFT Practitioner, brings over a decade of mental health expertise to global organisations. She specialises in conducting employee wellbeing webinars and offering tailored mental health awareness training for managers. Sara’s proficiency also extends to wellbeing consultancy and wellbeing strategy, contributing significantly to the enhancement of workplace mental health and overall wellbeing.