With Mental Health Awareness week fast approaching, here at Hibob we thought what better opportunity to host a ‘Wellbeing in the Workplace’ workshop and breakfast, all the way up in East London’s very own cosy and calming Shoreditch Treehouse.

Hosted by the truly delightful Suki K Bassi (AKA Founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Maven: Wellbeing in Business), here’s a quick summary of her key insights around wellbeing at work; symptoms, triggers, and that all-important business case for your own company.

1) What is mental health?

According to the UK Stats from Time to Change, 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health problems. 90% experience stigma; 65% reported that it affected their friendships and 17% have experienced suicidal thoughts.

Yet mental health is not fixed: it’s a spectrum that spans from euphoric to suicidal.

Good mental health makes it far easier to engage with the world around us. It results in higher productivity, being more resilient. It makes us able to adapt and manage the stress of daily life. This makes us more confident: able to feel a range of emotions, and to maintain healthy relationships.

Nevertheless, we tend to recognise our mental health when it’s absent. Perhaps it’s when we’re tired or anxious; feeling unwell or in a dysfunctional state. Ill mental health makes it more difficult to be spontaneous or flexible, and is something very difficult to truly empathise with unless you’ve been in that dark place for yourself.

2) What is wellbeing at work?

Wellbeing at work fluctuates with the mood curves that make up our personal and professional lives.

It can be influenced by a myriad of factors: from internal environments and career development; bereavement, break ups, insecurities – or even just the time of year.

Mental health in the workplace shouldn’t be about being reactive to problems or ad-hoc to crises, but about creating opportunities to thrive, which benefits the humans that make up society.

3) What does burnout look like?

Burnout by its very nature is insidious. It grows. Our bodies and minds gives us warnings, such as difficulty concentrating, being irritable, impatient or experiencing headaches. But the further you are towards burnout the less likely we are to recognise it.

Burnout can translate to feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. Empathy often goes out the window. It is replaced by apathy, cynicism, detachment and physical exhaustion.

However, you can recognise the warning signs in other people. And we can intervene.

4) How can we encourage good health in our personal lives?

Good mental health starts with ourselves. Think of what helps you maintain your emotional and physical wellbeing.  Perhaps it’s communicating with loved ones, cycling, dancing or even writing down what you’re grateful for every evening.

Now consider that your oxygen mask: identify those areas in your life that need attention, and make it your top priority to practice whatever that may be.

5) The business case for mental health programmes in the workplace

  • Reduction of staff turnover
  • Reduction absenteeism and presenteeism
  • Reduction of ancillary costs
  • Increased engagement, productivity and morale
  • More top talent and improved employer brand
  • Demonstration of sustainable business practices

According to Deloitte’s study on wellbeing interventions, these programmes will generate a return to the business of between £1.50 and £9 for every £1 invested will result in. In other words, this will see an average ROI ratio of 4:1.

6) What can you do in your workplace now to be wellbeing ready?

The wellbeing programme needs to be an end-to-end approach, not just tagged on with commitment from the top leadership. This might include:

  • Maintaining the basics like health and safety, good pay, clean office and working hours
  • Ensure adequate training and development
  • Offer catch ups, check ins and counselling where necessary, not forgetting your remote workers
  • Identifying wellbeing champions and leverage awareness campaigns
  • Setting up and promoting Employee Assistance Programmes
  • Implementing a ‘No Lunch at Desk’ Initiative

Given that the World Health Organisation has named stress as the ‘health epidemic of the 21st Century’, I think we can all learn from Suki’s insights that Mental Health and Wellbeing should now be a business imperative on every board agenda.

We hope this toolkit will help equip you with the tools you need to build the business case for your own Workplace Wellbeing interventions.

A huge thanks again to Suki K Bassi, all our wonderful attendees and the stunning Shoreditch Treehouse for joining us!

Wellbeing Workshop: Mental Health at Work - Verity-headshot-1-150x150-1.jpg

From Verity Raphael

Verity Raphael is a Senior Marketing Executive based in the London office. Since graduating with a Masters in English, she has progressed from sales to marketing at Hibob: helping the European People and Talent community feel more valued and connected to their company and colleagues. Outside of work, her passions include modernist literature, underground music, Scandinavian design, positive people and art galleries.