Thought leadership: Wellbeing and the workplace
By David Lynes, CEO and Founder of Unique IQ
It’s February and Boris Johnson has just announced a roadmap out of lockdown. Many of us are beginning to feel like there might finally be some light at the end of the tunnel. The evenings are getting lighter, the days warmer and cheering signs of spring are appearing all around us.
But there can be no denying that the extended period of lockdown, and the volatility of the ongoing global pandemic, have had a profound effect on our collective mental health.
Research from Mind has found that 65% of people who were already experiencing mental health problems, said the pandemic has made them worse. And 51% of people who have never had a mental health problem before, said their mental wellbeing had deteriorated because of the pandemic.
I’m sure we have all seen these effects in the people that we love and care for. I know that it has been hard for many of our team here at Unique IQ, myself included, to deal with the challenges, constraints and losses that the pandemic has brought about.
So with the news of a renewed lockdown at the start of January, we decided to embark on a mental wellbeing programme for our staff here at Unique IQ. The original idea came from our development team (who now work permanently remotely); they shaped it and the programme is now being spearheaded by mental health champions within our senior team.
Pre-pandemic, 330,000 people left work each year because of a long-term mental health condition (source: Deloitte)
The cornerstone of this is a Mental Wellbeing Day initiative – a type of leave that gives a team member some time out for self-care. When they return to work, there is an opportunity to talk confidentially with a mental health first aider, who provides a safe space to explore what is affecting them and help with accessing additional support.
Alongside this, all of our employees also have access to free 1-2-1 counselling sessions, as well as other wellbeing-boosting activities such as online fitness classes, self-development resources and perks.
And we have so far trained four of our team to be Mental Health First Aiders. As a business, that gives us a more in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing, as well as the skills and confidence to spot signs and step in to offer support and reassurance to colleagues in distress.
We were also honoured to be selected as one of 10 businesses to participate in an advisory group that is developing a campaign to encourage open and honest conversations around mental health at work. The campaign is part of the Mental Health and Productivity Pilot (MHPP), led by Mind and Coventry University, which is supporting employers in the Midlands Engine region to improve employee mental wellbeing, and by doing so, understand more about the positive impact that mental health can have on productivity.
We look forward to being able to contribute to improving mental health in the workplace.
Keep well, stay safe and let’s look out for each other.
N.B. If you would like more guidance on better mental health at work – this is a great place to start.
Want to know more about wellbeing in the workplace? Check out our comprehensive wellbeing knowledge hub.
Or, to read more articles from David – head over to our thought leadership hub.