Wellbeing has to be one of the business buzzwords of the moment. And to be honest, even the term ‘buzzword’ can be a bit off-putting. Isn’t wellbeing just a faddish relative of clean eating and green juices, Brain Gym for kids in the classroom and corporate yoga for their grown-up relatives?
We’re certainly not denying that elements of workplace wellbeing can seem like a corporate version of fashion victimhood, and just because the likes of Google can hand out massage credits doesn’t mean that this will be realistic or affordable for smaller organisations.
Here are some key areas that we think a good wellbeing programme should cover – and some ideas for what you might implement in each.
While we still have a long way to go, mental health has never been talked about so openly in this country, and this has to be a good thing. According to the UK’s Mental Health Foundation, one in six people in the past week will have experienced a common mental health problem, underlining just how prevalent issues like depression and anxiety can be. Mental health problems can be devastating on an individual level, dramatically affecting people’s abilities to enjoy or even carry out their day-to-day work – and this, in turn, means that mental health is an important employer issue too.
In practice, mental health strategies might include creating break-out rest areas, which have been shown to improve creative thinking and ideas generation, introducing scheduled meditation or time out, and creating a structured programme of mentoring to ensure that members of staff always know what they are working towards and where they can go for support if they are struggling.
You don’t need to be a huge business to make physical wellbeing a part of your workplace mantra. Sure, you might not be able to operate a full-scale canteen, but providing fresh fruit bowls, proper water coolers, good-quality tea and coffee and perhaps a free, light breakfast is pretty simple and cost-effective. Corporate yoga has become something of a cliché – yet because of that, an instructor will be available in almost every town or city to visit your office and take staff through a class that supports physical and mental wellbeing. Or what about starting an office sports team? Cycle to Work schemes are also becoming increasingly popular, and are a great way of helping staff to build exercise into their regular routines, while also saving money and stress on a regular commute.