Mental health is quickly becoming one of the biggest expenses for businesses in the UK. Recent findings by a Thriving at Work report found that poor mental health of employee’s and weak support procedures are costing UK businesses between £33 – £42 billion a year.

A recent and comprehensive study (GOV.UK – Review of evidence on employee wellbeing and its potential impact on workplace performance) suggests improvement in wellbeing will result in improved workplace performance: in profitability (financial performance), labour productivity and the quality of outputs or services. Job satisfaction – including aspects such as satisfaction with training, skills development opportunities, how much autonomy employees have in their role, and how much scope they have to use their own initiative and influence decisions, show a strong and positive link with workplace performance.

The potential to influence the wellbeing of employees lies within the responsibility of the employer. There will be different factors that influence wellbeing at an individual level, but detailed analysis of a wide range of research studies has suggested that there are a variety of key factors for increasing wellbeing to boost performance in general. 

These are a few ways to improve the mentality in your workplace.  

Clarity within roles – Being clear about what is expected of staff, including feedback on performance, which could be addressed through a combination of effective induction, clear terms and conditions and a regular appraisal process

Flexible work hours – everyone has different demands outside of work, from family to health requirements so if possible, it can encourage employee loyalty and satisfaction. If it reduces burnout or allows them to work when they can accomplish most everyone will benefit.

Provide healthy office snacks – so many offices offer sugary pastries and vending machines jammed with sugar laden snacks. Instead of these, you could have baskets of fresh fruit and healthy snack vending machines.

Add a splash of colour – Yellow gets the creative juices flowing, green reduces stress and promotes calmness and blue promotes focus. Introducing splashes of colour, art, greenery and bringing the outdoors indoors can all contribute to wellbeing. Get creative with water features, park benches and arboretums to give your employees spaces where they can go to feel calm and access their creativity.

No bullying tolerance – Staff respond well to the perception of fairness in the workplace, both in terms of how the employee is treated but also how they see their co-workers being treated. Negative behaviour such as bullying can be damaging to wellbeing – be it from co-workers, customers or managers. Effective use of procedures for responding to bullying coupled with disciplinary and grievance procedures where needed would be one way for employers to address this.

Awareness of mental health is increasing, but we still face a world where people with mental health problems face discrimination and can face challenges getting the help they need. Many people who experience distress try to keep their feelings hidden because they are afraid of other people’s responses. Fear of discrimination and feelings of shame are among the top reasons people give for not telling their colleagues about their mental health problems.

Therefore, ensure that discrimination on the grounds of mental health status is seen to be as unacceptable as well as discrimination in relation to other protected characteristics such as race, gender or sexual orientation.