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What is workplace wellbeing and how do you put it into practice?

You’ve probably heard the buzz around ‘Workplace Wellbeing’ but what does it mean if you are an employer and what steps can you take to promote wellbeing amongst your staff?

At Gardner Leader we believe what is good for our valued employees is good for business and that staff engagement contributes to the excellent client service we pride ourselves on. We carry out annual Employee Engagement surveys and findings are presented by our Managing Partner Derek Rodgers, along with an outline of actions implemented and to be considered.

We have also brought together a group of people from across the firm in our Wellbeing Group. Members joined the group voluntarily and did so because of personal interest or expertise in areas including health, social, environmental, food, finance, fitness, mental health, community engagement and CSR. The group organises activities, signposts relevant information and arranges training that helps at home as well as at work, such as earlier this year when staff were invited to attend training to become a Dementia Friend.

Part of the group’s remit is to normalise talking about mental health. It’s widely recognised that mental ill health does not discriminate and there are likely to be people facing all manner of personal battles for which we could offer some support at work. To reflect that, we have two Wellbeing Champions (of which I am one and Niamh Minihane, Senior Associate in our Inheritance Protection in Maidenhead is the other).

Employees can speak to either of us confidentially about concerns relating to themselves or someone else, regardless of whether they are work related or not. We can provide a simple sounding board or advice and guidance depending on what the individual approaching us requires. We both have relevant training. As well as other training on counselling, mental health and workplace wellbeing, I am an MHFA England Mental Health First Aider, have a MSt in Psychodynamic Practice from the University of Oxford and am a practising Therapist.

In addition, we have recently signed up to the ‘Where’s your head at?’ Workplace Manifesto promoted by MHFA England because we want our employees to have peace of mind they can bring their ‘whole selves’ to work and can ask for support when needed.

We recognise that people often find it hard to talk during periods of mental ill health or crisis so we look for ways to encourage staff to check in with and ask questions of their colleagues if they seem out of sorts. Like many other workplaces, we noticed that people often had lunch at their desk rather than taking a proper mental and physical break from work.

To promote both the break and making connections, this July we ran a ‘Take a Break’ campaign. Taking part was optional but we encouraged employees across all three offices to take their lunch break and spend time with others to build on the supportive network at the firm. A wide range of activities including sport, music, arts and crafts, reading and quizzes were arranged to appeal to people with different interests.

If you’re an employer without anything relating to Workplace Wellbeing in place, what can you do? Even without anything formal in place you can encourage people to reach out to each other and ask a question, listen without judging and signpost help.

You can communicate with your staff to let them know it is ok to talk about mental health and make time for a well-timed cup of tea and a chat. You could also look at the training provided by organisations such as MHFA England, The British Psychological Society, Mind and LawCare for those of you in the legal profession.

We value our staff and their wellbeing, so Workplace Wellbeing is something we are committed to, and will continue to invest in. If you’d like to talk about how to get things up and running or would like to share ideas about how you can promote workplace wellbeing in your organisation do let us know.