The 2013 Wellness at Work Survey asked workers across the UK about mental health and well-being at work. When asked if they felt happy in the work place, only 29% of employees answered “I am mostly happy”. In a similar fashion, 40% of employees surveyed by the CIPD that same year said their employer does not promote health and wellbeing.
Why is that when 91 million working days a year are lost to mental ill-health (The Mental Health Foundation) and stress-related sickness absences cost an estimated £4 billion annually? The CBI estimates that 30 times as many days are lost from mental ill-health as from industrial disputes.
Mental ill-health at work can take all sorts of forms: stress (one the biggest occupational health problem in the UK), anxiety, depression, burnout… to name but just a few of the most common ones. It is estimated that nearly 3 in every 10 employees will have a mental health problem in any one-year.
Mental ill-health poses a high risk to businesses in human terms and in financial terms with compensation payments for stress and absence costs.
This week we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week and, this year, it is all about mindfulness and how it can help organisations improve employees’ mental health. It may look like a trend, the latest craze in HR management. But it is so much more than that. Mindful techniques such as meditation and yoga have been around for enough millennia to vouch for their effect on the human being and their more recent versions of MBSR, MBCT or Sophrology have brought to our modern world their techniques in a more 21st century user-friendly corporate style. The latest neuroscience research has shown time and again how the practice of mindful techniques can spark measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. They enhance left prefrontal activation, improve sleep quality and focus, self-confidence and resilience, bring a greater sense of well-being and contentment. General brain performance improves. Conversely, people who have higher right than left prefrontal activity often suffer from depression, anxiety,… So who would you rather have on your staff, the mindfully-trained left-prefrontal type or the other?
One of my latest blogs deals with bringing mindfulness into your work day so I will simply refer you to it for immediate action!
But here is something for you that could also make a difference: do you know what signs to look for in your employees to detect the early signs of mental ill-health? Here is a short list to get you started:
- « Super-driven », unable to switch off, answers emails at night etc
- Relying on large amounts of coffee or other stimulants to keep going
- Not sleeping well
- Feeling overwhelmed, anxious or frustrated
- Negativity and emotional outbursts
- Frequently late for work
- Less productive
- Disconnected from work
- Increased amount of sick leave
If any of these signs are common among your staff, it may be time to introduce some sort of mindfulness technique!
Florence is the chosen blogger for our Health @ Work Summit 2015, if you want to meet her then make sure to get your ticket now!
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