By Kirsty Jagielko
Happy and healthy employees are the driving force behind every successful business. Healthy employees not only take fewer sick days, but those who eat well and exercise regularly are more likely to have higher job performance1. But physical fitness is just one aspect of health and happiness.
Factors such as financial stability, workload, family, health and social interaction can all have an impact on your employees’ emotional wellbeing. If a person’s emotional wellbeing reduces, it’s likely that their performance and effectiveness at work will suffer as a result. That’s why the right approach to stress and wellbeing is an increasingly important responsibility for today’s employers.
Health insurers are helping to drive awareness. Research from global health benefits and services company Cigna2 has revealed that only 39% of the UK population rate their overall health and wellbeing as excellent or very good. Diving deeper into these results shows only 27% are happy with their current financial situation and just 26% are satisfied with their workplace wellbeing.
Worryingly, Cigna’s research shows that more than half of the UK population suffer from work-related stress and 45% don’t have a good work-life balance. In addition to workload concerns, only 20% believe they have sufficient financial security if they found themselves unable to work.
With so many employees facing these challenges, it’s not surprising that, last year, 15.8 million employee workdays3 were lost as a result of emotional wellbeing issues. Stress, anxiety and depression were the main causes.
Having the right attitude and approach within the workplace to emotional wellbeing can have a huge impact on how long an employee’s condition lasts and how quickly the individual will return to work. Emotional wellbeing problems are more likely to recur or persist if not addressed promptly. Ensuring that your employees receive quick and appropriate treatment is essential, and following these simple steps can help.
A guide for employers
Step 1 – take notice
The first step to improving emotional wellbeing in the workplace is for employers to take notice of their employees and any changes in their usual behaviour. For example, an employee who was previously outgoing could become very withdrawn, or an employee who’s usually quiet may become more vocal and loud. Often, it is only in retrospect that employers realise the signs were there for them to see.
Step 2 – discuss
The first conversation between an employer and the employee is usually the most difficult. Reporting managers are often worried about invading an employee’s privacy, breaching professional protocol or receiving more information than they expected. It’s vital that managers hear what the employee has to say and try to understand the employee’s perspective before making any suggestions or looking at specific triggers that bring out symptoms.
Step 3 – take action
Employers need to offer guidance and provide support to any employee who is showing signs of an emotional wellbeing issue. Thankfully, there are a number of options that employers can offer to support employees. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that helps people change the way they think and behave. CBT is one of the most effective treatments for conditions where anxiety or depression is the main problem.
Cigna recently introduced a new emotional wellbeing option which provides members with easy access to emotional wellbeing support and to a range of services including psychotherapy, psychiatric care and online self-help. Having this support available removes the wait time to see a general practitioner and puts people on a course of treatment quickly, with a minimal amount of stress. And for employers, this helps promote a workplace culture that enables employees to seek help when they need it.
A positive outlook for all
It’s important to keep your employees’ health and happiness at the top of your company’s wellbeing agenda. It’s also critical to promote awareness of emotional wellbeing issues and create a culture where employees feel they can talk openly about their concerns.
With emotional wellbeing concerns often lasting for many years, early intervention is vital. The right support at the right time can help your employees to achieve positive emotional wellbeing and enable them to remain productive members of the workforce.
Employees who feel their employer cares about their overall health and wellbeing are more likely to be motivated, engaged and are less likely to leave. Being able to guide employees to this type of support helps cement trust and in turn, can have a positive effect on employee satisfaction.
Happy and healthy people drive healthier, more profitable businesses.
2 Cigna 360° Well-being Survey: 2017
3 Office for National Statistics https://www.ons.gov.uk/news/news/totalof137millionworkingdayslosttosicknessandinjuryin2016