Our well-being is not a standalone entity. It seeps into all areas of life, including work. Since the pandemic (yes we’re still referencing this) workplace wellbeing is now at the forefront of our minds.
Now it’s a little easier for us (and employers) to understand how negative and poor well-being can affect everything from productivity to happiness. In this blog, we’ll cover what well-being at work is and share small changes you can make to create an improved quality of life.
Breaking down what is “workplace well-being”
Workplace wellbeing has become somewhat of a buzzword. We understand the gist, but not exactly why it’s important or how it affects us. Truth is, 1 in 4 people have a mental health issue at some point in their life.
As stated by the UK Department of Health, wellbeing in simple terms refers to the balance of feeling good and physically stable when performing day-to-day activities.
Combine the above definition of wellbeing with the workplace, and this translates into how your environment affects you, and vice versa. The two are not mutually exclusive, they’re like two streams that eventually form the lake.
How does work-related stress affect wellbeing?
A report by Deloitte found that stress is the cause of over 50% of the working days lost in Britain. Work-related stress tends to be triggered by job demands, a lack of support from employers and feeling out of control.
Many of us have probably experienced this stress, however acute or magnified. The pressure of looming deadlines, the inability to switch off at 5pm, the struggle to balance your hobbies with work – it’s enough to get your head in a spin.
But if this stress nibbles at you daily, weekly, monthly, it’s bound to have an affect on your wellbeing over time. You might feel more irritable with your loved ones, struggle to fall asleep, or even hibernate from social plans.
It becomes a domino-effect: feeling stressed about one thing, makes you feel stressed about another, and so on. Until there are no dominoes left and pieces of you are scattered across the floor.
Why is workplace wellbeing important?
Aside from the fact that poor workplace wellbeing costs employers up to £45 billion annually, the aftermath on the employee is just as, if not more, important to prevent.
If you’re an employee who’s sick of running around without any support or encouragement, you’ll start feeling low and insignificant. These feelings can grow uninvited, like an incessant weed, leaving you overwhelmed and tainted.
These negative outcomes of poor workplace wellbeing lead to higher rates of absences; more sick days, unpaid leave and even resignations. To go further, research shows that negative workplace wellbeing can trigger presenteeism, the act of turning up to work but being less productive.
Forcing yourself to work when you feel less than able is counterproductive. It also adds to the frustration and stress, meaning you’re preoccupied with that low state and will likely struggle to focus on the task ahead. Now, this might sound all doom and gloom, but it’s important to know the reality of what negative workplace wellbeing leads to, and how to avoid it.
4 benefits of better workplace wellbeing
According to Perkbox, investing energy into improving wellbeing at work is better for everyone involved.
- Increased motivation: when you’re happy and calm, you’re much more likely to be as excited as possible about work and complete tasks in a timely manner. Yes, you might still wince at the sound of your alarm in the morning, but you’re ready to seize the day regardless.
- Reduced absenteeism/presenteeism: a positive work setting gives little reason to hide at home or stare blankly at your screen. Your job can become a positive outlet when nurtured correctly.
- Higher productivity: when you feel like a supported and valued employee, knowing your wellbeing is a priority, you’ll learn to enjoy work more. This means your time management and work ethic will skyrocket.
- Greater company culture: if you’re working a 9-5 job, this means you spend on average around 40 hours at your workplace a week. When this becomes a positive space, you’ll be more collaborative and work-oriented (and open to those free pizza socials when they happen).
So, we’ve covered why workplace wellbeing is important and reasons why it benefits us all to enhance it. Now, we want to help you picture what a positive workspace looks like – and it’s not rocket science.
Easy ways to improve wellbeing at work
As much as it’s your employer’s prerogative to make sure you’re happy at work, there are also ways to improve your wellbeing at work on an individual level. Bear in mind, these ideas won’t fix anything overnight. However, if you start implementing these quick and easy strategies now, you’ll be able to regain control and live better.
Speak with your employer or HR representative
In the same Deloitte report we mentioned, they found that increasing awareness in the workplace about wellbeing and having training in this area was paramount. This includes understanding mental health problems and stress, which can be prevented from the offset.
Try and make wellbeing at work a topic of conversation to reduce the stigma and create a safe place where you feel heard.
Ask for flexible working hours
If you’re someone who works better in the morning or prefers remote working, see if you can tailor your working hours. Hopefully, your supervisor will appreciate that your productivity depends on the time of day and environment, meaning you’re more likely to be an asset to the team.
Go for a walk or do some exercise at lunchtime
One study found that when employees took a quick walk during their lunch breaks, they reported higher levels of wellbeing after the working day.
A similar study also found that active recovery activities like walking, yoga or swimming also increased energy levels during work hours. Regular breaks are essential to maintain positive wellbeing at work. Just 10 minutes is enough to transform your mood!
Socialising with colleagues or a friend
The ability to have a chat with a colleague by the coffee maker or speak to a friend over the phone can help you de-stress and distract your mind. Use this as an opportunity to get out of your head and enjoy human connection. Guaranteed, after 5 minutes, you’ll feel a little less stressed than before.
Take CBD supplements
Supplements with 24mg of CBD have been proven to reduce levels of anxiety and depression. Try using CBD patches which secrete a gentle stream of CBD over 24 hours, allowing you to find serenity in your day. This is an instant yet non-invasive way of managing your feelings to support your wellbeing.
Get out in nature
We came across a study that found spending time in nature enhances mental wellbeing. The colour green is also believed to trigger a sense of peace and calm. They also documented that the participants felt more grateful and mindful, as being in nature helped them regain perspective over their worries.
Take a break from technology
Whilst technology is an incredible tool, the constant need to be connected has a negative effect on our wellbeing. Science tells us that receiving a notification or a message triggers the release of dopamine, which makes us jittery and wired-up. This means you’re on high alert 24/7.
You may find it difficult to switch off (especially at night), so make a pact with yourself to turn off your phone for at least one hour a day. During this time, do something that activates your brain, like reading, sudoku, some exercise and reset. Yes, this includes ignoring any work emails after 5pm! Be strict with yourself: sign out, sign off.
Journal and express gratitude
Positive Psychologists suggest taking 5 minutes out of your day to reflect on 3 things you’re grateful for. Jot these reflections down in your journal and read over them either in the morning or evening. Gratitude is associated with higher levels of wellbeing, as it teaches you to channel the positive and appreciate the negative is temporary.
- Workplace wellbeing relates the way your environment interacts with how you function optimally
- It’s important to manage and improve wellbeing in the workspace as this leads to more motivation, productivity and general happiness
- There are many strategies you can adopt individually to regain control and enhance your wellbeing at work, including taking active breaks, supplements like CBD and exercising daily.