A recent report, (Thriving at Work, The Stevenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers) found that poor mental health costs employers between £33 billion and £42 billion a year, with an annual cost to the UK economy of between £74 billion and £99 billion.
These are big figures. But should they be the primary focus for businesses when they are looking at how they treat their workforce?
At Pavelka, we work with companies who see things a bit differently. We believe that employers are not responsible for an individual employee’s health and wellness but that each employee is accountable for their own health. But, we feel that employers are responsible for creating an environment that allows health and wellness to flourish.
The best businesses create a culture of innovation and change when it comes to dealing with all elements of health and wellness
The best businesses see that employee health and wellbeing will attract, engage and keep the best talent, ensuring they are productive, happy and resilient
Of course, an outcome of a well thought through and holistic wellness strategy will likely be a reduction in the number of sick days and long-term costs but this in our view should never be the primary objective
Through our work with one of the world’s leading IT and networking companies, we are finding that mental health is extremely high on the agenda in such a fast moving, digital environment where the 9-5 simply does not exist.
Instead of work/life balance we are now looking at work/life integration as so many people are working from home (including evenings and weekends). Not being able to ‘switch off’ is a constant issue with many.
The World Health Organisation defines mental health as
“A state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
It’s a good definition.
At Pavelka we focus on the well-being of the individual. We talk of True Health, which means feeling good on a day to day basis. Resilience, strength, the ability to cope, are all areas that we are looking at assisting people with.
The report outlines standards that employers should be incorporating into their organisations. It states that it is likely to take 10 years for shifts in the culture to take root throughout the UK.
We applaud the fact that the government in the UK are looking at this issue seriously, but we feel that there is a very simple way to create that shift in corporate culture and that is through encouraging and enabling employees to make small, sustainable changes in four areas of their lives:
Eat; Sweat, Think, Connect
True Health is a combination of these elements. No one element has a monopoly over the others. Balance is key. We all know how we feel better when we exercise and how our mood can change depending on what we eat. Also, when we connect to the right people, we tend to thrive.
Our mental stability can be strengthened when we pay attention to these Four Elements and make 1% changes each day. Improvements can quickly be witnessed. These changes can be incorporated into the working day as well as home life. Employers can integrate these four elements into their working environments easily and quickly. It’s all about a conversation around what you eat, how you move, your thought process and who you connect with. The results we are having are extremely encouraging. The key word here is ‘awareness’.
At Pavelka we:
Disrupt ‘normal’ in order to deliver True Health
Reports like this help us to do that so we are extremely pleased it has been published, but we are keen to highlight to employers that in our view the focus should be on creating a holistic approach to health and well-being involving the ‘whole person’ – at work and at home – and not just the mental health side.
We feel it is all about education, conversation, understanding and balance – a holistic approach to True Health for the individual and those around them.
Thriving at Work – see the full report here.