For many, the beginning of a new year can bring with it hope of change and revitalisation as people put the preceding year behind them and look forward to a new one. For others, this time can be a rather lot different – with the pressure of a new year, and what it may bring, causing poor mental health and impacting their wellbeing.
The setting of New Year resolutions is the best example of how this time of year can actually be harmful for many of us as we exert unnecessary and unhelpful pressure on ourselves.
So, instead of talking about resolutions, I want to take this opportunity to steer the conversation to talking about wellbeing and what we can do on both an individual level and as business owners, to prioritise it.
While it is critical to look after our own mental health and wellbeing, as business owners we do also have a responsibility to look after that of our staff as well. Conditions such as anxiety, depression and unmanageable stress are experienced by one in six British workers each year. The work environment and poor job design can play a big role in the manifestation of these conditions
The UK’s 5.8 million small businesses can, and do, play a powerful role in improving the lives of their employees through a variety of actions. We are seeing businesses introducing new and different initiatives to foster wellbeing in the workplace – from communal staff lunches and setting up staff breakfast clubs, to offering flexible working arrangements and supporting workers returning to work after a serious illness, to having plant walls in offices and starting up work yoga groups.
It is important to remember that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to wellbeing in the workplace – what works for one business might not work for another. It is about finding what works for you and your employees. FSB has been lucky enough to work closely with Mind and Heads Together, the organisation led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. A big part of this work has been contributing to the Mental Health at Work Gateway.
Making wellbeing a priority in your business is not only good for you and your staff but can also lead to increased productivity, improve staff performance and reduce absenteeism. This makes an excellent business case, but the benefits stretch further reaching the wider economy, the NHS, government and society as a whole.
The gateway aims to be the one-stop shop for information on mental health and what businesses can do to prioritise it in the workplace. FSB’s very own Wellbeing guide and It’s okay to talk about mental health guide are included in the gateway.
Here are some ideas from these guide that you can think about introducing in your business:
- Take a lead in your business and help destigmatise mental health by talking about it
- Sign up for a Mental Health First Aid course for training to help you better understand mental health in the workplace
- If you’re self-employed reach out to a networking group. Remember –going it alone doesn’t mean you are alone
- Investigate flexible working arrangements and whether it could work for your business
- Start an ‘in-work’ fitness group – this could be a running group
- Try a walking and talking meeting
- Bring some plants into your office to improve air quality
- Consider training courses to upskill you and your staff
So, as you and your employees return to work over the coming days, why not use January as an opportunity to reflect on your own wellbeing and that of your staff. One small step could make a big difference in making your workplace a healthy and happier place to work.