Redefining Workplace Well-being
Phillip Inman's recent article in The Guardian highlights an alarming trend: a significant increase in workplace absences, reaching a decade-high. Factors such as stress, long Covid, and socio-economic challenges contribute to this concerning landscape of the UK workforce's mental well-being.
At the heart of Twining's mission is our unwavering commitment to supporting individuals experiencing mental health challenges. Our programmes, resources, and interventions are tailored to empower these individuals, helping them navigate their personal and professional lives with resilience. A shining example of our dedication in this domain is our recent collaboration with Shaw Trust through the West London Works IPS (Individual Placement and Support) in Primary Care initiative. This partnership, which also addresses individuals with musculoskeletal issues, is a testament to our efforts in mobilising the wider health system to see “good” employment as a health outcome.
While our primary focus remains on individuals, we also recognise the critical role employers and government play in shaping mental well-being and in light of the current challenges, we propose the following recommendations:
Job Design: Prioritise roles that are meaningful, offer autonomy, and provide diverse skill opportunities. Such roles can mitigate stress and elevate job satisfaction.
Mental Health Ambassadors: Designate ambassadors to promote mental well-being, spearhead events, and serve as a touchpoint for colleagues.
Digital Detox Zones: Dedicate spaces free from electronic devices, allowing employees to unplug and rejuvenate.
Tailored Wellness Programmes: Introduce programmes like mindfulness apps, virtual reality relaxation sessions, and biofeedback tools to cater to diverse needs.
Feedback Platforms: Leverage AI-driven platforms to anonymously assess employee well-being, offering actionable insights.
Promote Mental Health Awareness: Regularly host workshops and campaigns to destigmatise mental health conversations.
Flexible Work Arrangements: Embrace hybrid models and flexible schedules to alleviate workplace stress.
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP): Provide confidential counselling services addressing both personal and work-related challenges.
Regular Check-ins: Foster open communication, ensuring employees feel valued and heard.
Mental Health Impact Assessments: Mandate assessments for companies to gauge the mental health implications of new initiatives, akin to environmental impact assessments.
Revise GP Fit Notes: Transition from the traditional GP sick note to a proper "fit note" system, emphasising an individual's capabilities over limitations.
Digital Mental Health Platforms: Advocate for the adoption of digital platforms offering comprehensive mental health support and resources.
Whistleblower Protections: Bolster protections for employees who flag unhealthy workplace practices.
Incentives for Mental Health Initiatives: Extend tax breaks or incentives to companies pioneering innovative mental health programmes.
Furthermore, the UK government can play a transformative role by incentivising employers to facilitate employee access and time to an array of free NHS services. This will not only foster mental well-being but also promote physical health, driving productivity and reducing absenteeism. Key services would include NHS Health Checks, Vaccination Programmes, Screening Programmes, Mental Health Services, Smoking Cessation Programmes, and Weight Management and Nutrition Services.
In conclusion, Twining's dedication to individuals remains at the forefront of our mission. Yet, we also understand the broader landscape's intricacies, prompting us to work hand-in-hand with employers and the UK government. Together, we aim to champion innovative strategies that ensure a healthier, more resilient future for all.
Written by Oliver Jacobs, Chief Executive at Twining Enterprise