We spend so much of our life at the office. Eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, and that’s not even counting commutes to and from work and any extra shifts or overtime. Before you know it, the office has become your home away from home. But what if your home away from home is having a negative impact on your mental health?
With mental health starting to edge into the spotlight more and more, and with TUC reporting work-related stress as “growing epidemic”, it’s essential that employers are doing their bit to make workplaces more mentally friendly.
But how? Here are four tips that you can implement in your office today…
1. Work/life balance
Everyone wants to advance in their job and smash their career goals, but expecting employees to work ridiculous hours and answer emails once they’re off the clock is pushing us more towards a culture of stress and burning out.
So rather than throwing around ‘work/life balance’ like a catchy buzzword designed to hook in new applicants, why not actually practice what you preach and make it a reality?
• Encourage staff members not to answer work-related emails once they have left the office
• Implement flexi-time that allows staff members to come in earlier and leave earlier, or come in later and leave later. This allows them to work around issues such as traffic, stressful commutes and childcare arrangements.
• Speaking of childcare, could you help ease the stress by signing up to the childcare voucher scheme?
• Organise a monthly company outing to do some out of the office bonding. Some ideas include mini-golf, cinema trips or even just a Friday night at the pub
• Allow staff members to approach you and ask to adjust their hours if something isn’t working. This could be due to balancing childcare and finances or to ease back into work after maternity leave or sickness absence.
2. Look around you
With a great deal of our life spent within the four walls of an office, it’s important that those four walls are as healthy and supportive as possible. Here are our best tips for making that happen…
Encourage as much natural light to enter the room as possible. Sunlight through big windows, as opposed to fluorescent bulbs, has been proven to encourage productivity, better moods and increased concentration.
Create breakout zones. It doesn’t have to be big, a simple bench and table or a few comfy chairs will do, just somewhere that gives people a chance to catch up about non-work topics or play some games can be a vital step towards reducing stress and boosting relaxation
Clever office design and decor can boost energy levels
Take a look at the walls and decor around you. Are things looking a bit drab and in need of a freshen up? A modern and well-designed workspace with exciting and innovative features can make a world of difference.
Think bright and airy colours with personalisation elements like photos that will help your staff feel connected to the office
On that note, even a lick of fresh paint can have an impact. Opt for whites and off-whites, blues, yellows and greens to brighten up the place and inspire creativity.
Let in as much natural light as possible to lift your mood. Think about making your surroundings as bright, airy and light as possible – whites and off-whites are perfect colours to brighten up spaces, complemented by bright blues or greens to spark ideas.”
3. Open up the conversation
One of the hardest things to do is to talk about mental health, but it’s also the main thing that needs to be done. In fact, if you only take one step towards bettering mental health in your workplace this year, then this is the one you need to do.
Stigmas and barriers surrounding mental health are slowly breaking down, but there’s still more than needs to be done.
Encourage your staff to approach their manager or a senior member of the team if they are starting to feel low or overwhelmed, or even if their personal life is starting to impact work.
4. ‘Integrate wellness’ into your office…
• Order an office fruit basket to be delivered every week instead of a tuck shop. Better for everyone!
• Organise lunchtime walks – should the weather be on your side – even if it’s just for 20 minutes or so
• Encourage staff to take regular breaks from their screens to get up and walk around every hour – the activity tracker competitions can help with this!
• Install a water cooler in the office and remind people to take sips throughout the day
• Organise someone to come in and teach yoga or meditation to help take care of their minds as well as their bodies
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