Wellbeing at Work: Just a buzz word?

Chris Ham, writing recently in the British Medical journal, highlighted that “The CQC argues that health and care services are working at full stretch and that staff resilience is not inexhaustible.” The picture is the same across all the emergency services, with stress and burnout often being perceived, wrongly, as weakness or an “inability to cope.”

Numerous ground breaking initiatives such as Mind’s Blue Light Campaign, Lancashire Police’s Oscar Kilo project and the NHS’s Healthy Workplace programme have all emphasised the importance of self care and employee wellbeing, but evidence suggests many employers find it tricky to translate theory (or should I say strategy) to practice.

In Business In The Community’s Mental Health at Work Report 2017; the call to action is strong: “Employers and employees must work together to resolve our mental health crisis. Now is the time to end the disconnect.”
Their findings make for concerning reading: 60% of staff have experienced mental health issues where work was a factor, but only 24% of managers had received any training in mental health.

We are optimistic that, with the publication of last week’s Stevenson/ Farmer Report: “Thriving at Work” the tide is about to turn. The review quantifies how investing in supporting mental health at work is good for business and productivity. The most important recommendation is that all employers, regardless of size or industry, should adopt 6 ‘mental health core standards’ that lay the basic foundations for an approach to workplace mental health.

We warmly welcome the report – this “hands on” approach validates what we at AWE aim to achieve – to recognise our workplace triggers, response styles and relationship patterns and take ownership of our own wellbeing. It is the employer’s role to nurture, support and encourage authentic conversations about mental health but employees need to proactively manage their own wellbeing as robustly as they would with any “hard” target.

Above all, employers need to recognise that money invested in wellbeing yields dividends in terms of reduced sickness, turnover and workplace conflict while improving service levels. No wellbeing intervention represents a quick fix, rather a starting point from which employer and employee work in partnership for the mutual good.

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