National surveys reinforce need for renewed focus on employee mental health

With two recent government surveys* revealing the impact of the pandemic on mental health, there is no doubt that as we enter the second month of lockdown 3.0, mental wellbeing in the workplace should be at the top of the agenda for companies.

Companies across the country have stepped up to provide support for their employees and embraced the new ways of working, but the question remains, are these solutions built for the long-term?  Are companies really caring for their employees’ mental wellbeing through this prolonged period of restrictions and lockdowns?

Luke Bullen, CEO, UK & Ireland at Gympass, the world’s largest corporate wellbeing platform, shares advice on how companies can take action now to integrate mental wellbeing support that is fit for both the present and the future.

 

  • Keep connected

For many, working from home has become the norm. Back in March last year, virtual coffee breaks and Zoom ‘pub quizzes’ were a novel way to socialise with colleagues and something that many companies wholeheartedly adopted. However, now 10 months in, it is more important than ever to maintain these practices to foster a sense of community.

This can take many forms. At Gympass, one that’s worked really well is ‘MyWholeSelf’ sessions, where everyone is invited to join a group Zoom and share the things that have made them happy that month; from new film, book and podcast recommendations to a new wellness routine. That both helps everyone to feel connected and gives people new ideas for how to stay stimulated during lockdown. We also regularly do a random draw to pair people from different teams together and encourage them to meet for a virtual lunch or coffee. And our Monday morning ‘10 at 10s’ are very popular; we meet virtually as a group every Monday at 10am, and either go for a walk together, meditate, stretch or just chat.

With the recent Public Health England survey revealing that almost half of adults felt that the pandemic had impacted negatively on their mental health and wellbeing, with close to a third citing work reasons as a cause, there has never been more of a need to safeguard employees mental health by embedding wellbeing support into the workplace. In fact, we’ve seen an increase in use of our mental health solutions. With our partner Calm, we’ve seen that more people are particularly interested in sleep and meditation help.

 

  • Encourage staff to take time out of their day for wellbeing

This can be encouraged by approving time off during the day for ‘wellbeing breaks’ or leading by example by letting staff know you are participating in activities. Create a community of wellbeing by encouraging people to share what worked for them. And don’t forget to send a quick recap of what company digital wellbeing solutions are available to them.

Our digital platform is designed to nurture all-round healthy habits, and includes mental health, tailored nutrition plans, meditation and relaxation programmes alongside a diverse range of online workouts.

Bupa launched Gympass in August last year.

“We know that staying active is just as important for our mental health as it is for our physical health, and now more than ever following the pressures of the pandemic,” says Rachel Murray, Head of Employee Health and Wellbeing at Bupa Global & UK. “Gympass allows our employees to introduce a flexible fitness regime into their lifestyle at a time that suits them. It is convenient and affordable for our colleagues, whether they prefer to access a gym, do an online class or have one-to-one PT at home.”

 

  • Take simple steps to reduce stress and avoid burnout

Encouraging employees to keep to their usual routine where possible (whilst recognising that family/carer duties may sometimes prevent that) can help with maintaining work/life balance.  People should be encouraged to not only work their usual hours, but take proper screen breaks away from the computer, and as mentioned before schedule time in for ‘wellbeing breaks’. Managers and directors should lead by example and not send or reply to emails outside of normal work hours unless it’s absolutely essential.

The impact of COVID-19  is affecting workplace wellbeing and performance, manifesting in a sharp rise in burnout symptoms. It’s important to recognise that employee burnout is not a personal issue, but an organisational one, which affects every part of any business.

The good news is that burnout can be addressed and even prevented with early identification and effective wellbeing interventions. A useful resource for HR executives and leaders is the Gympass eBook on identifying and managing burnout in the workplace, which draws on insight and comment from a range of expert organisations and individuals including the World Health Organisation, Gallup, and Arianna Huffington, the founder and CEO of Thrive Global and Huffington Post who has herself experienced burnout.

To access the Gympass eBook: https://site.gympass.com/web/lp/gbr-burnout-ebook-lp

 


References

*Public Health England survey: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-every-mind-matters-campaign

* Driving for Better Business (Highways England campaign) survey:
https://www.drivingforbetterbusiness.com/supporting-van-driver-mental-health-on-blue-monday/