How to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace

Judi MacLennan

by Judi MacLennan

09.08.2017


A productive work environment relies on having happy and healthy employees. When teams feel valued and supported in the workplace they are more likely to perform to the best of their abilities.

In 2013 approximately 70 million working days were lost to mental illness, costing £70 – £100bn to the UK economy, according to the Annual report of the chief medical officer. We examine how you can improve mental wellbeing in the office, and the impact this has on productivity and employees’ work ethic.

How can improving mental wellbeing in the workplace increase productivity and commercial success.
It takes a range of aspects and components to improve mental wellness

How can improving mental wellbeing in the workplace increase productivity and commercial success.

There are numerous environmental characteristics in any workplace that can have a direct impact on mental wellbeing. It is becoming increasingly important to create a workspace that influences and enhances cognitive performance.

A WELL Mind in the workplace

The WELL Building Standard identifies policies that can be implemented to positively impact mood and stress levels in your workplace.
We advise taking a holistic approach to designing a healthy work environment. “Health is a state of physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”. For that reason, when striving to improve mental wellbeing in your office, you need to take into consideration a range of aspects and components.

An environment which supports a healthy mental state can significantly improve your team’s work ethic. It is not surprising that 60 per cent of employees say they’d feel more motivated and more likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work if their employer took action to support mental wellbeing.

At Oktra we enhance employees’ wellbeing and overall engagement by providing our team with the right tools to support mental health.

Designing a work environment suitable to improve wellbeing

Factors such as space management can considerably improve individuals’ wellness. Providing adaptable spaces that allow employees to have privacy can benefit overall performance and enhance productivity. At Oktra HQ we use space dividers to minimise noise and distraction.

Another point to consider is the impact of Biophilia in your office. Forming a connection with nature stimulates creativity, and has a calming, positive effect on individuals’ mood throughout the day. Adopting natural daylight into your design can further inspire mental wellness by averting Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is influenced by the changes of seasons, with symptoms often appearing in autumn and carry through into the winter months. As days become shorter, the absence of daylight can cause energy lows and glum feelings. In our office, we maximise natural daylight by designing our meeting rooms with glass walls.

Coworking spaces

Designing break out areas and coworking spaces to inspire communication can further improve productivity levels in your office. These spaces encourage idea sharing and teamwork to promote positive work relationships. An open plan office keeps lines of communication open and supports information sharing between teams. Designing a mutually supportive work environment improves overall wellbeing as individuals feel their input is valued, and are involved in team discussions.

Mind Awareness

56 per cent of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but do not feel they have the right training or guidance. Taking action and bringing mental health discussions to the forefront of your business shows employees you are genuinely invested in supporting emotional wellbeing.

Raise awareness and educate your teams by setting up a digital or physical library with resources on wellness and the mind. Book and magazine subscriptions are a great way to ensure information is current and topical. Another way to raise awareness is by giving employees the chance to talk about wellbeing and stress both confidentially and as a team. It further promotes an open dialogue and embodies positive attitudes within the work environment, resulting in improved internal relationships.

Charity work

Organising charity events at work generates a feeling of belonging within your team. The act of generosity is associated with enhancing community identity and promoting wellness across the workplace. Volunteering provides a way for individuals to express their values, strengthening social relationships within the office. This positively impacts mental wellbeing in the workplace by decreasing isolations and loneliness.

Here at Oktra, we frequently partake in various charity events. Our latest is our annual Summer Art Exhibition. We’ve transformed our office into an art exhibition for the whole month of August to support Orchid.

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