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Are We Doing Enough to Support the Mental Wellbeing of Our Workforce?

There is no denying that the contemporary business environment is taking a toll on the mental wellbeing of our workforce. Roles are no longer as permanent as what they used to be, there is a constant pressure to upskill and organisational change is never far around the corner. Understandably, this creates uncertainty and places additional pressures on employees. So, what are we doing to support mental wellbeing?

For many organisations, a focus on mental health stops after the implementation of an EAP program that is rarely publicized and an announcement to all staff on ‘R U OK?’ day. However, some organisations are starting to think outside of the box to come up with innovative mental wellbeing initiatives. Let’s take a look at some of these new ideas…

  1. Mental Health Day: In their most recent EBA, IKEA has negotiated to provide all staff an additional paid day off each year to support their mental wellbeing. This day off is called a ‘doona day’ and there are no questions asked when taking it. If work or personal life is ever getting too much for IKEA employees, a day snuggled up in their doona may be just what they need.
  2. Puzzles: Other workplaces, such as Brisbane City Council have puzzles in employee lunch areas to encourage employees to switch off from work occasionally. Puzzles have been proven to be an effective tool for reducing stress by creating a sense of calmness and serenity.
  3. ‘Fails’ Celebrations: Mistakes and failures are an inevitable part of organisational change. However, unfortunately these failures can leave a massive toll on the mindset of staff members. Despite this, some organisations are trying to turn these fails around and have actually planned ‘fail’ celebrations. These celebrations encourage staff to collectively look back on the challenges they experienced throughout the year and appreciate that these weren’t always in their control. This has assisted the mental wellbeing of employees in these environments as it has promoted them to have a positive mindset when faced with difficult situations.
  4. Get Physical: This is one initiative that many organisations have already jumped on board with as exercise releases endorphins that promote the mental wellbeing of individuals. However, how creative is your organisation in encouraging staff members to get physical? Perhaps it could be a work social sport team, a boot camp committee or a monthly step-a-thon.
  5. Silent Spaces: One of the major causes of mental health issues at work is stress. Sometimes it just seems like there is too much work and not enough time. Whilst it would be ideal to say that all organisations should stop employees from getting stressed by making sure they never have too much work to do, this is a pretty unrealistic goal. Instead, organisations such as Commonwealth Bank, have tried to alleviate this issue by creating silent office spaces. These spaces are available to employees at times where they may need a couple of hours without disturbance in order to get their work done and reduce anxiety.

Clearly, there are so many creative ways that mental wellbeing can be supported in the workplace. It is time to challenge our current approach to employee mental wellbeing and consider what our organisation could be doing better…



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