Positive Mental Health at Work
Beyond the quick fix

Good work doesn’t just lead to psychological wellbeing and personal fulfilment – it also boosts engagement, performance and innovation.

So why is everyone only talking about mental illness in the workplace?

The impact of workplace changes and pressure due to the pandemic have presented increasing challenges for many of us, increasing stress and affecting our wellbeing & mental health.

In a recent study conducted by Oracle in partnership with Workplace Intelligence, it was found that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the mental health of 78% of the global workforce.

Mental health problems are a huge issue affecting people and business. Statistics tell us that 1 in 4 people will be affected by a mental health problem at some time in their life with the result that 17 million working days are lost each year, at a cost of around £34.9bn to UK employers alone.

Much valuable work has been done in recent years to de-stigmatise conversations around mental health at work, and a growing number of companies are training line managers to recognise the symptoms of ill-health and provide individuals with appropriate support.

Employers are also legally obliged to identify and address potential ‘psychosocial risk’, particularly the causes of persistent stress in the workplace, since there is abundant evidence that prolonged exposure to unmanageable pressure can result in severe mental and physical health problems.

But why just focus on ill-health?

There is no shortage of guidance, toolkits and well-meaning advice on mental health at work – but most of it focuses on how to deal with mental ill-health. We need to change the focus: how can we create jobs and organisations that actively contribute to psychological wellbeing?

Whilst there are multiple factors contributing to individual mental health – whether genetic, environmental, or otherwise – it is clear that the workplace has huge potential either to promote or to undermine it. Research evidence points to the need to create positive working conditions and developing healthy work environments, designed to prevent the onset of mental ill health.

Work can make a positive contribution to mental health and wellbeing, providing an environment in which people can learn, develop and realise their full potential. In short, we need a broader perspective in which mental health lies at the very heart of the way we build our organisations – not just to minimise illness but to enable everyone in workforce to realise their full potential – enhancing business success and psychological wellbeing alike.

This is where the concept of workplace innovation comes in, sometimes defined as “the introduction of workplace practices that enable all employees to use and develop their full range of knowledge, skills and creativity, leading to win-win outcomes in terms of business performance and quality of working life”. A large and growing body of evidence shows that employees with high levels of control over their own work experience greatly improved mental and physical health outcomes.

What can you do?

A good place to start is with our Mental Health & Wellbeing webinar on 23rd March, part of the Scottish Enterprise Workplace Innovation series. It’s open to everyone, and this interactive event will bring two leading international experts together with two business leaders, all of whom are deeply committed to the positive enhancement of workplace mental health and wellbeing.

Stephen Bevan (Institute for Employment Studies) will share latest research findings on lessons from the lockdown, highlighting what we know about the good practices associated with mentally healthy workplaces.

Frank Pot (European Workplace Innovation Network) will show how trust and empowerment at work enable people to deal with high levels of pressure whilst experiencing both wellbeing and fulfilment.

Nick Price, founding CEO of technology recruitment firm Bright Purple is a qualified mental health first aider, Nick has been on the wrong side of a mental health challenge, suffering a bout of symptomatic depression four years ago, but did the right thing, sought help and fixed the problem. As an employer of more than 20 staff, understands his duty of care for his own people, now more than ever during the pandemic!

Peter van der Reijden is the founder and CEO of Experius, an e-commerce system integrator. Peter believes that trust is the foundation of a good workplace. Experius is organised in self-steering teams with the responsibility and authority (and Peter argues that the balance between these two is essential) to do what they think best, creating customer value and strengthening the mental health and wellbeing of its people.

Book your place here.

And what then?

You’ll be inspired and informed by the webinar – and afterwards you’ll probably want an opportunity to reflect on your own organisation’s impact on the mental health and wellbeing of its people. Creating a positive mental health workplace means taking a hard look at current ways of working, learning from good practices elsewhere, and sharing ideas on how to make good change happen.

Immediately after the webinar we’ll continue the discussion on the Fresh Thinking Labs platform with moderated online forums, informal video workshops and a specially curated portfolio of resources to help you plan and deliver worthwhile change in your organisation. Our own expert team plus Stephen Bevan, Frank Pot and others will offer customised advice to help you create a healthy workplace where people can realise their full potential.

As a not-for-profit organisation, we’re deeply committed to improving mental health at and through work. To take advantage of all this support, we’re just asking you to subscribe to one of our low-cost membership options.

By the way, you’ll also gain access to the whole Fresh Thinking Labs programme of online events including:

  • 18th March: Natalie Wilkie on Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

  • April: Stephen Bevan on Good Work & Mental Wellbeing 

  • 12th May: Professor John Bessant on The Craft of Innovation

  • 19th May: A virtual journey to employee-owned Gripple, Exploring a Culture of Innovation

  • June: Hanne Shapiro on Workforce Readiness for Digital Innovation 

Plus Wellbeing Drop-Ins, Challenge Workshops, network-building activities and bespoke introductions to members with comparable interests.

We think that’s pretty good value – starting at just £35 / €45 per person per year!

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