Let’s get our heads together – and talk

15th May 2019

From the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to Adele and Stephen Fry – more household names than ever, are openly discussing their personal experience of poor mental health.

And it’s not just the famous. Scores of UK Chief Executives are trying to break down the stigma around the once-shunned illnesses that affect so many. They’re doing this in many ways, these include urging the government to act on a pledge to give ‘mental health first aid’ equal status to ‘physical first aid’. It’s not surprising. Online and offline figures reveal that each year, workplace mental health issues cost the UK economy almost £35 billion, with 15.4 million days lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.

Take a recent survey by the Institute of Directors. Among the 507 directors and managers polled, more than half confessed to feeling mentally affected by workplace pressures. The majority (67%) said lack of work/life balance was the biggest culprit, followed by heavy workload (54%), issues with staff (44%) and high level of responsibility (38%). What’s more, 42% admitted their business doesn’t actively promote mental wellbeing and (56%) said greater engagement with peers on mental health issues, would make the biggest positive impact.

But it’s not all bad news.

Leading the way on workplace wellbeing are companies like WHSmith, Innocent Drinks, Netflix, Sweaty Betty and Iceland, to name just a few. Recognising the true value of looking after their people on the ‘inside’ as well as the ‘outside’ – they’ve introduced a host of approaches to create positive mental health at work. Clear role descriptions, effective performance review practices, free lunchtime yoga classes, evening running clubs and flexible working hours are some of the strategies to encourage staff to be happy, healthy and fit. Some have gone even further. To try and normalise mental health issues, they’ve introduced innovative online wellbeing training programs, as well as face-to-face support.

And why wouldn’t they? They employ teams of talented people to engage with their hard-won customers. Surely then, it stands to reason that if we want to serve our customers well, we need to make sure we look after each other first.

And this is where we get results. We work with leaders and their teams in organisations across the globe, transforming the way they work. That’s because we understand when teams are healthy, motivated and focused, they’re usually operating at peak performance. After all, these are your people. The very people, doing their very best, to make the magic happen.

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