New mental health research from Deloitte has revealed that the cost to employers of poor mental health has increased, to up to £56bn in 2020-21 compared to £45bn in 2019.
Looking at practical guidance from leading mental health charity, Mind, and Public Health England, we’ve put together a guide on improvements you can make to your office that can enhance employee wellbeing.
These suggestions are based on studies and guidelines from leading health organisations.
How Can Wellbeing Consultants Help Employee Wellbeing?
Workplace solution consultants can assess how to improve the work environment and the best course of action for your budget.
The physical work environment – noise levels, space, temperature and light – can significantly affect staff wellbeing. In fact, a poor physical working environment was cited by Mind in an Introduction to Mentally Healthy Workplaces as one of the key triggers for stress and mental health.
Office Environment Upgrades To Improve Employee Wellbeing
Reduce noise distractions and improve speech privacy
Poor sound-proofing alone can cause a host of issues, including lack of speech privacy and an unhealthy level of noise distractions. According to Public Health England, higher rates of sickness absence have been associated with a lack of perceived privacy at work.
Private spaces, quiet rooms and partitions should be available for those who require confidential conversations and focus.
Sound masking is one of the most effective and affordable ways to enhance the acoustics of your office environment, and doesn’t require any major changes to your building infrastructure.
The quality and comfort levels of lighting can impact wellbeing. For example, poor lighting levels can result in discomfort and fatigue which can negatively impact wellbeing, as well as performance and motivation.
Add human-centric lighting combined with a control system to artificially create a full spectrum lighting effect. This is specially designed to change colour and intensity throughout the day to mimic the illumination patterns of natural daylight. The wellbeing benefits include reducing fatigue at work and preventing disruption from natural sleep patterns.
Maintain a healthy temperature
It’s recommended that you maintain an internal temperature of 22-26 degrees Celsius. It can be difficult to manually control room temperature. However, it is possible to link-up your heating and air conditioning systems to smart sensors which can automate building temperature regulation.
It’s not just the physical environment that can be improved. Company culture and sufficient communication can also play an important role. A holistic approach to wellbeing is certainly the best policy. It’s not just about having the right environment, but adopting a positive attitude to work, a supportive work culture, open communication and inclusion.
Flexible working can be a vital early intervention to prevent mental health problems from getting worse and resulting in sickness absence. Mind advises using this to support a phased return to work after a period of sickness absence.
When employees are working from home, however, you need the right communication channels in place to ensure they still feel supported and part of the team. Inclusion and open communication is key. The best video conferencing solutions ensure everyone feels engaged and part of the conversation.
If you have employees who work from home, make sure to schedule video call check-ins. Those working from home may lack social interaction, so are likely to appreciate that contact.
Making sure that everyone is kept in the loop on matters that affect them will also reduce stress or feelings of exclusion or isolation.
It can be worth getting someone trained in mental health first aid and having team talks to raise awareness about common mental health issues in the workplace. Covering how to reduce stress and where to turn if you need support can make a big difference.