How to form an effective employee wellness programme?

Woman sat at a window. visibly troubled and unwell

With increasing awareness of mental health and wellness, and the importance this can have on employee engagement, forming an effective employee wellness programme is a key business priority.

There is at present, limited information on how many employees in the UK are affected by mental health issues; however, a new survey found that over the past year, almost three quarters (74%) of people have at some point felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. The survey, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation and undertaken by YouGov, polled 4,169 adults in the UK in 2018.

According to the survey, 91% of people have said that they have experienced workplace stress, and 71% of employees still consider mental health to be a taboo subject in the workplace – so much so that 45% of people will make up an alternative reason for work absence rather than report a mental health issue to their employer.

These stats were compiled before the Coronavirus pandemic, which has significantly impacted employees' work environments, and has added to many peoples stress and anxiety levels.

How can Employers help?

In 2017 the government commissioned a review entitled the Thriving at Work report, which provides a set of Core Standard guidelines for employers - and how they can better support their employees’ health and wellness in the workplace.

The guidelines for employers recommend that they:

  • Put together a mental health at work plan
  • Raise awareness and open discussions around the subject of mental health
  • Incorporate a process for monitoring actions and outcomes

What is an employee wellness programme, and what should it include?

As an employer, you can help manage and work towards preventing stress by improving the conditions at work. Incorporating a facility to identify individuals at risk of stress will ensure effective action is taken in terms of either preventing or managing potential sources of stress in their work environment.

Identifying the risk through learning courses can identify potential stress “risk factors” that the employee may be experiencing at work, or in the case of Managers may be causing in the working environment. This can provide both an early warning system to potential issues, but also an opportunity to engage with the employee.

You can use an employee wellness programme to promote learning, which can cover topics including stress in the workplace for employees, helping managers create an environment that minimises stress, and prioritises health and safety management.

Another important aspect to consider is the access to confidential help and support. Look to provide a mechanism within an employee wellness programme for employees to discuss issues that cause them anxiety, worry and concern regardless of the cause.

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