The fact of the matter is, over the course of a year, the average worker in the UK will spend around 1795 hours per year working. When you consider there are 8760 hours in a year, you start to get an understanding of why a healthy and happy mind in the workplace is so vitally important.
Even if you do have that rare ability to totally switch off and relax whilst you’re at home, if you don’t feel comfortable and happy at work, that’s an eighth of your life spent anxious, stressed, depressed or, quite simply, unhappy.
Here at MYNDUP we recognise that workplaces have, in the past, been breeding grounds for poor mental health. In the UK as of the end of 2020, there are around 828,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, which represents around 2.5% of the entire working population.
With the stigma that surrounds mental health and the unwillingness of many to open up, the likelihood is that this number is realistically much higher. With the COVID-19 pandemic hardly looking as if it’s going away any time soon, and a general increase of work-related mental illness over the last few years, now is a time where maintaining a healthy and happy workplace is more important than ever.
Because, at MYNDUP we believe that a workplace, when run properly, can be a huge benefit to mental health. It can be a place to socialise, a place to feel valued, a place where people can gain a real sense of achievement and fulfilment.
So with that more positive aspect of work in mind, let’s take a look at why a healthy and happy mind in the workplace is so important, to employees and employers alike.
1. Healthy Employees = Healthy Performance
At a bottom line level for employers, not only is a healthy, happy workforce simply good for each individual employee, but it is also excellent for the performance of businesses as a whole.
Workforces that are stressed about meeting deadlines, anxious about their workload, depressed or not receiving proper support from their HR or management teams, are far less productive.
In 2019/2020, mental health directly resulted in 55% of all days lost due to work-related ill health. In a time where many businesses are having to pull the purse strings tight, can you really afford to be losing valuable hours of productive time from your employees?
Even aside from the days missed, cast your mind back to when you weren’t the boss. Did you really feel like working hard for the manager that made you feel small? That forced you to work to unrealistic deadlines? That had you looking constantly over your shoulder, unwilling to put yourself out there in case you made a mistake?
Studies have shown that happy and healthy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees, and that really shouldn’t surprise us.
After all, would you be more productive in an environment where you were valued, encouraged and supported? Or in one where your tea breaks are monitored and the failure to meet deadlines is met with dismissal?
As an employee, keeping your employees in a healthy and happy mind-set should be top priority. But of course, it’s not simply the monetary benefits that should motivate you to encourage your employees to look after their mental health. And as an employee, it’s fair to assume that you aren’t hoping to look after your mental health in order to make more money for your boss.
So, why else is it important, for both parties, to develop a workplace that promotes good mental health?
2. Covid-19 Has Shaken Up the World of Work
For millions of UK citizens, 2020 and the developments surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown their world into disarray.
Confidence over job security has plunged as thousands of businesses around the country struggle to stay afloat, increased job loss, reduced income, and strain on relationships has increased the prevalence of mental health issues immeasurably.
For this reason, any business worth its salt should be investing in its people, encouraging their employees to open up to someone and not fall into the trap of keeping quiet and allowing their thoughts and feelings to get on top of them.
1 in 4 people will experience mental health issues at some point in their lives, so to assume ill mental health won’t affect your own business and your own workforce at any point is at the very least an irresponsible stance to take.
As an employer you have a moral responsibility to care for your employees, as for many people, work can actually be a place of escape from stress. On the contrary to it being a source of stress and anxiety, people with severe home issues might find work a place where they can focus on something different, and put their energy into a situation where they feel in control.
It’s incredibly important, especially in today’s landscape with the pressures that people are feeling from all angles, to develop a working environment where people feel as if they are being heard and listened to.
Do this, respect your employees, and you’ll find you create an environment that people genuinely enjoy being in and will be willing to work hard for.
3. The Legal Question
It’s not just an employer’s moral responsibility to cater for those with mental health issues and promote happy and healthy mind-sets within the workplace, but also now a legal requisite.
A mental illness can be classed as a disability if it impacts on an individual’s day to day activities, and that includes tasks such as using a computer or interacting with colleagues.
It’s a company’s responsibility to ensure that people suffering from mental illnesses are fairly catered for and taken care of, with steps such as reducing hours, adjusting workloads and deadlines, or frequenting an employee’s breaks in order to prevent overworking all useful steps that can make a real difference.
It’s all about treating employees as individuals who require individual support and empathy, and ninety nine times out of one hundred, employers will find those individuals more motivated, more energised and more passionate about work, and life in general.
Mental health in the workplace is a growing, but thankfully a better understood, issue that affects every business throughout the country.
Actively supporting mental health programmes, encouraging employees to find solutions and places to reach out, and providing those resources, is one of the most important things an employer can do in 2021.
A healthy and happy mind in each worker can result in numerous benefits for people at all levels of a company, and help improve the quality of life for all employees. During a time when people are hitting low troughs in their lives, or feeling more isolated than ever as a result of Covid, the human response is to provide ways to overcome these barriers and feel more secure in an environment that, as an employer, you can control.
Invest in the people in a business, and you can develop surroundings that benefit all and truly inspire the community you build around your business.