In the following article there are 10 components of KEY NO. 2 from the 7 KEYS TO A MENTALLY HEALTHY WORKPLACE on how to be more proactive in the workplace …..
I have had many trips to Thailand over the years and have been known to frequent the massage huts on the side of the beach.
Even though the environment of being next to the beach in a beautiful location is a fantastic place to work, the Thai massage therapist is working under some extreme and uncomfortable physical conditions, as is some of our Australian workers.
A quality healthy workplace environment will take note of what the physical working conditions of their teams are and spend some time designing and planning to ensure that it is of a standard that is healthy, safe and acceptable.
Feedback, feedback, feedback, as a part of your overall well-being program in the workplace, seek to include your employees to discuss how to improve the workplace design. Conversations about the overall layout of the office or other workplace space is a great start.
Some examples of topics to discuss are – Is there enough privacy for private conversations? Is there too much noise that interferes with the more auditory sensitive team members?
Talk to them about what part of the culture in the workplace is contributing to workplace stress. What part of the physical environment, the team members, management, the workload, the clients, the systems is causing stress?
Gain specifics, ask deeper level questions into the root cause of how the stress is being created or could be improved upon.
Digging down deep into what is the real impact on the employees Is crucial just discovering what are the ‘real ‘problems, not just the surface level problems.
If the manager or team leader is ‘always on ‘, does this person contribute to the overall stress in the business by having an underlying expectation that everyone else must be ‘always on’?
Is the policy as such that employees are required to answer communications in an unreasonable and unrealistic amount of time, and could a simple revision of this policy have major impacts on stress reduction in the workplace?
Sadly, when it comes to the health and well-being of team members so many businesses are purely just operating from a reactive space where as they are just putting out fires on a day-to-day basis.
They have no real forward plan or they are only focused on the compliance of the OHS rather than actually operating from a space of care and compassion for their employees.
Can you, your team and your business take time to review what your intentions are in the context of creating and delivering a well-being program?
Developing a culture of genuine human focused workplace environment for sustainability and longevity of workplace relationships that will benefit all, is a win win!
There is nothing quite like working walking into a well-designed office, business or home. Think of a time when you have been on holidays, especially in the tropics.
You walk into the foyer of a modern resort, the furniture Is new or in very good condition, clean, modern or in theme of the surrounding environment, think Balinese.
There is a smell of lemon grass, an abundance of lush plants, running water such as a fountain or a small stream and there are the sounds of birds tweeting in the background.
This may be my dream resort however any workplace or office can capture small moments of this with a little smart ambient design focus.
As well you can create quiet spaces for employee private time out and destressing, this is especially important for our introvert‘s that work in busy people environments.
We could all use a bit of calm quiet space in our working day to build focus and energy and the creation of this doesn’t have to be expensive. It could be as simple as a small table and comfortable chairs out the back of the business under a beautiful tree.
Is there good lighting in the workplace, natural lighting is preferable, though not always achievable. Natural lighting is hugely important for our mental health.
It has been shown in the northern European countries to have a higher level of mental health issues due to the lack of natural sunlight.
A note on natural lighting is to be aware of too much direct sunlight and brightness, especially near computer screens as it can cause reflection and eye strain.
I personally am quite light sensitive and have had to hang a blind in my office space because of too much sunshine. There is also the problem of direct sunlight late in the afternoon creating a very hot little office. Such is the problem I have living in Queensland; I cold southern state would probably love this sunshine.
Not all workplaces are good for musculoskeletal health, an example of that would be a tradesman that works a very physical job in very awkward positions.
The amount of broken-down tradesmen bodies I have seen over the years is many very sadly. However, the average office environment can cater well for this with the right knowledge and investment. Ensuring that the workplace seats have gas adjustors for height levels and an adjustable lumbar arch support system for the back.
Our people that are of a smaller stature may also need to have a foot step to support their legs and pelvis in their seated position.
Many workplaces these days also supply stand-up desks as an option. It is very important to note that any one position, whether it is seated or standing for an extended period of time creates an imbalance of faulty muscle patterning and posture that potentially will lead to physical bodily damage or contribute to injury.
Ensure also that you provide physical ergonomics training for improved muscular skeletal outcomes. There is not much point investing a huge amount of money into the physical equipment if your employees do not understand the difference between good or bad ergonomics.
I worked in a corporate position once where as it felt like it was always expected that I was ‘on’, it was exhausting. Obviously, employees are there to do a job but there is a fine line between what is reasonably expected and an unhealthy culture and an expectation of overworking.
The culture I worked in was micromanaged by middle management and I felt I could not breathe; it was a very unenjoyable experience and I left in no time feeling very burnt out.
It never mattered for a moment to the management that I would stay back after my shift to follow up on the calls that I promised I would do, they constantly wanted more. ‘Always on ‘ is also very problematic for small business owners.
If you, your business or your team member is constantly thinking and talking about work even after hours this is an indicator of an unhealthy ‘always on ‘behaviour.
Is the team expected to be ‘always on’ even after the day is finished? If this is expected, then the culture of the business needs to change immediately as your employees will eventually feel resentful and leave, just like I did.
The latest data is showing that presenteeism costs, where workers attend work under stress or experiencing mental ill-health, is up to 26 times the cost of absenteeism due to lost productivity.
This is an enormous costly problem for businesses to state the obvious and it is up to business to have their staff trained to Identify if their fellow employees are experiencing burn out like behaviours and mental health challenges at work.
Leaveism is a behaviour where as people cannot switch off from work even when they are on holidays, they are also very often connected to electronic devices. Leaveism can work in a couple of ways, eg: the employee is so obsessed and wired electrically with work that they cannot relax when they are on holidays or the business is contacting the employee while they are on leave.
If you are communicating to your employees when they are on holidays about work or vice versa this must stop immediately. It is a reflection of inefficient systems and procedures within the work and another contributing factor to ‘burn out’ of the employee, leaders and or business owners.
If Covid has taught us anything surely it is how valuable a balanced healthy life is. The old saying that we work to live is 100% true in this case.
Our working career should support us to live our healthiest and most productive happy life that is possible, not the other way around.
Flexible work hours are particularly important especially for young parents. I also worked in a job that was in conflict to my commitment with my family and I approached my boss about a job share arrangement.
Unfortunately, the business was not able to offer that so in my case I chose to resign to spend more time with my family. Family life is as much about a healthy balanced lifestyle as is our physical and mental health.
Offering hybrid, remote and job share options are very much commonplace and expected these days as well. By offering these flexible work arrangements you are contributing overall to your employee’s well-being by giving them choice and flexibility about how they can integrate their jobs into their lives and not the other way around.
Applying for a new job can be a stressful process in and of itself. If you have a recruitment potential that may be struggling from mental health issues or previous health issues there will be a level of apprehension about what type of environment they are entering into.
Be open throughout the recruitment process about your mental health initiatives as it is important part of the early relationship and trust building process.
A recruitment potential will feel more confident to proceed with the application knowing that they will potentially be working for a company that cares for their well-being.
Be proud of your company’s well-being initiatives, not all companies make it the priority that it should be. Quality well-being in the workplace will elevate your companies standing, reputation and help you to recruit quality team members if it is communicated well throughout the recruitment process.
Sandra Leigh specialises in helping business owners, remote workers and workplaces build strong healthy habits from the inside out.