Employee health and wellbeing needs to be prioritised in an organisation, ensuring that mental health, physical health and general wellbeing are at the top of the agenda. This is especially important due to the changed workplaces, increased uncertainty and volatility we’ve all experienced during Covid-19. Our recent Supporters Network Webinar was on this topic - speakers guided participants through the different facets of employee health and wellbeing, including the practical implementations of these measures. The key takeaways for employers are summarised below, alongside a list of useful resources and the full video recording.
Supporting physical health during a pandemic.
Extended periods of physical inactivity during an office-based working day was a concern for many organisations pre-Covid. However, this has amplified since the transition for many to home working. Employers should support staff to stay active while working from home - this could mean anything from encouraging the old commuting time to be used for exercise, to facilitating active team events where safe to do so.
Prioritising the physical health of employees is more important than ever, with rising health concerns and risk factors. Whilst this takes a different approach with remote working environments, there are different and creative ways that employers can encourage their staff to remain active that deserve exploring.
Communicating with mental health in mind.
This is an increased time of uncertainty for all, and employers need to stay mindful and anticipate potential fears. This can be achieved by staying informed on the news locally, nationally and globally, and disseminating relevant information to explain the impact on the organisation, and thus eliminate uncertainties. This anticipation and transparency establishes a culture of trust, making employees aware that their organisations will inform them on any new changes that may affect them.
On an individual basis, managers should be mindful of where colleagues’ anxieties may not have been communicated – changes in mood, body language or concentration could be potential signs of unease to observe. Approaching concerns sensitively, with an emphasis on health as opposed to solely work performance, may encourage an employee to open up. How best to support a colleague who is struggling can vary, with different situations and comfort levels impacting the most appropriate response.
Overall, good employers should work to develop a culture where people feel encouraged and supported to share openly – without fear of repercussions.
Integrating nutrition into health and wellbeing plans.
Although nutrition may feel like an area in which employers do not need to involve themselves, the effect of nutrition on both physical and mental health is stark. Food and drink choices can impact mood, concentration and memory – making it both a business and a wellbeing case to provide relevant support.
As we entered lockdown, people adapted to new lifestyles achieved with varying degrees of healthy eating and exercise. Employers need to be aware of this, and respond in an appropriate manner to help adapt a healthy workplace culture to the remote working world.
Whereas before this could have meant measures such as changes in workplace cafeterias, this is now more complex. Signposting to healthy recipes and resources, or integrating healthy eating into team activities, could help to cement positive nutritional health as something fun and achievable, despite the new working environments. Support for employees’ health and wellbeing should be comprehensive – covering physical health, mental health, and wider wellbeing, in order for a positive and healthy working environment to be established.
- Dr Ruth Watson, Deputy Clinical Lead for Adults at Resilience Hub
- John Brady, Senior Officer at GreaterSport
- Haleh Moravej, Senior Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences, Founder of MetMUnch at Manchester Metropolitan University
- Steve Fletcher, CEO at Vernon Building Society
- Kelly Gilmour-Grassam, Director at Making You Content
- Full video recording: Supporters Network Webinar
- Anxiety UK: Nutrition and Anxiety - A self-help guide
- Mind: How to support staff who are experiencing a mental health problem
- Mind: Coronavirus – Supporting yourself and your team
- Mental Health Foundation: How to support mental health at work
- Greater Manchester Resilience Hub: Mental health advice and support
- GreaterSport: Moving for Workplaces
- GreaterSport: Active Workplaces Toolkit