Workplace wellbeing: 4 ways to improve yours

How to improve your workplace wellbeing – whether you’re an employer, manager or employee…

There are multiple motivations for companies to increase their workplace wellbeing efforts. For many company owners, the productivity benefits will be of paramount importance. Yet it also provides yet another competitive advantage at a time when great job-seeking candidates prove more challenging to find!

Of course, if you’re reading this from an individual perspective you’ll need little convincing as to why it would be helpful for you to feel less stressed, more supported, and all-around healthier throughout your working weeks. With this in mind, let’s look at…

4 ways to increase your workplace wellbeing, according to recent news reports:

1. Use your lunch breaks!

Source: HR News

This topic crops up time and time again, which is why it’s less of a surprise to hear that British workers are giving up 19 million hours worth of lunch breaks per day!

10% of professionals are grabbing lunch at their desk on a daily basis and 22% will give themselves less than 10 minutes for lunch.

However, legally, all employees working more than six hours a day should receive 20-minutes of uninterrupted lunch-break. Lunch breaks also provide all sorts of health boosts – from lifting your mood to reducing stress and increasing your concentration.

  • Managers/employers: here’s yet another message to make sure all bosses are honouring this right! If you know your employees are regularly skipping their breaks, you need to act fast.
  • Employees: take your breaks! If there’s a major reason you don’t feel that you can, you should discuss this with your manager or HR contact.

2. Move more often.

Source: HR Review

81% of British office professionals spend somewhere between four and nine hours a day sitting at their desks. This tots up to 67 days per person annually!

Alongside this, few people feel comfortable in the chairs provided and many report daily aches as a result. Although, legally businesses must conduct regular ‘workstation risk assessments’.

Research conducted with ergonomic equipment and sit-stand desks across a four-week period led to increased workplace wellbeing, higher comfort and greater energy levels.

  • Managers/employers: let this be a nudge to conduct those risk assessments and find out how your team is feeling. Explore better desk and chair options. Encourage everyone to take short breaks to get up and move around.
  • Employees: we should all aim to stand up and move at least every half an hour. Even if that’s just to pop up and down a flight of stairs, take something over to a colleague, head to the loo or put the kettle on.

3. Introduce or become a Mental Health First Aider

Source: The Telegraph

About 1 in 6 of us will experience a mental health problem at work at some stage. Full-time working females are twice as likely to encounter something of this nature. That’s a lot of the working population and may contribute up to 12.7% of national sickness absence.

Younger workers can also experience additional challenges, including exam anxiety and social media pressures alongside workplace isolation.

  • Managers/employers: why not introduce a mental health first aid person or team, dependent on the size of your business? Visit Mental Health First Aid England or St. John’s Ambulance for training details and advice.
  • Employees: you could volunteer to be a mental health first aider at work. Share some of the research behind this, alongside some of the training course details and see whether this is of interest to your employer. Here’s a recent advice piece we shared on LinkedIn for workers experiencing anxiety or depression.

4. Watch your environment

Source: HR News

64% of HR professionals believe a poor workplace environment can have a ‘substantial’ impact on employee sickness rates.

Naturally, absenteeism is of national concern as it now amounts to a cost of £18 billion a year. Think it’s always been the case? Well, 59% of people now take more sick leave than they used to a decade ago.

A more positive workplace setting is believed to provide encouragement and a sense of purpose. Great news for workplace wellbeing levels!

  • Managers/employers: this may take a spot of anonymous surveying, but it’s important to find out how your team perceives your workplace. You should also watch out for any hints of staff bullying, chronic negativity and/or low spirits. Also monitor your own actions to make certain you’re leading in a positive manner.
  • Employees: this may feel out of your control, however, you can also start with your own actions. Watch that you’re not using every chat as an opportunity to grumble, say please and thanks to your colleagues and try to respond to new ideas in an open way. Where possible, speak to a trusted manager or HR colleague if you have any concerns regarding the atmosphere for yourself or your colleagues. Of course, sometimes a fresh environment is also the best solution!

Further reading:

Managers looking to do more to increase their workplace wellbeing rates may also be interested to read:

  1. The real reason employees are calling in sick via HR News.
  2. Job insecurities are hurting your employees on People Management.

Too tired and stressed for work

Are we a nation of tired and stressed employees? Recent reports should come as a warning sign to professionals of every job level…

We learned that almost half of UK working adults fail to do anything to cope with their work-related stress. What’s more, professional services employees are the least likely to do anything to help themselves.

HR Review reports that a lack of time is the primary barrier for the majority of people (65%). Perhaps no surprises there!

Other barriers are said to include financial constraints and the fact few employers incorporate stress relief into their employee benefits.

How are other people reducing their stress?

  • Physical activity tops the list of popular activities for 44% of those surveyed.
  • In second place comes hobbies/personal interests (39%).
  • While others prefer to relax with family and friends (35%).

Another urgent health issue:

There’s another workplace wellness issue that’s affecting almost as many employees (46%)…and it’s fatigue. Fatigue enters the realms of ‘extreme tiredness’ which may have a physical and/or mental cause.

HR Magazine reveals that employees feeling too tired to work are:

  • Experiencing forgetfulness (37%).
  • Becoming ‘short-tempered with colleagues (30%).
  • And even falling asleep during the working day (22%). Most worryingly of all, 13% of workers have fallen asleep while driving.

Yet, despite the severity of the potential consequences, 86% of people do not feel their colleagues or management team will understand this issue. Furthermore, fewer than 10% would feel able to call in sick due to fatigue.

Drawing a connection…

While these could be two distinct issues, they may also be highly interlinked. After all, mental stress can lead to fatigue. Naturally, if workers are unable to do anything to relieve their stress, the problem can become more severe – and even create a culture of chronically tired and stressed employees.

How to help the tired and stressed!

We all need to do what we can to prioritise our stress management. We have a proactive guide, including support links, here (for employees of every working level).

Let’s not forget that employers and managers are also prone to becoming tired and stressed! While it can feel ‘professional’ to keep plugging away, there are two primary business costs. Productivity and financial. There’s a great piece about these over on Forbes.

Employers are additionally reminded of their duty to undertake work-related stress risk assessments (information can also be found here).

Whether it’s hiring some extra hands, opening up the conversation about fatigue, reducing the working day, increasing holiday allowance and/or banning work activity outside of office hours, there’s plenty that can be done to benefit all.

Annual leave & leavism: are you affected?

Why so few workers are taking all their annual leave, plus the core symptoms of ‘leavism’…

How much annual leave are you taking?

  • The average worker only uses 62% of their annual holiday allowance.
  • Up to 40% of people use no more than 50% of their total entitlement.
  • When on leave, only 50% of workers feel able to switch off completely; without fearing that they need to be contactable by their employer.
  • 20% of people are expected to maintain awareness of any work issues, with 15% having received work-related communications from their boss and 20% from another colleague.

These stats have been compiled by Glassdoor, as reported by HR Magazine (where you’ll also find evidence that people are not only checking work emails while away yet also responding to them while under the influence!).

What is leavism?

Each of the above stats represents an aspect of leavism. This newly coined phrase refers to the all-too-common practice of working out of hours (when not paid!) and while on annual leave.

CIPD findings suggest that 69% of workplaces have been affected by leavism over the past year. Core symptoms include:

  1. Regularly checking work comms, by phone and email.
  2. Being afraid to book annual leave – and not using all of your holiday entitlement.
  3. Not trusting your colleagues to cover your workload; taking on all the responsibility and failing to delegate.
  4. Cancelling annual leave at the last minute.
  5. Taking unfinished work away with you.

Further descriptions can be found on HR Review.

And what is this telling us?

Few people would see this as a good sign. Yes, employees will appear conscientious at first glance, yet what is this going to do to long-term employee productivity?

This topic ties in with many of our previously discussed features on employee happiness, a general lack of free time, and national burnout concerns.

Encouraging employees to take a break and switch off is only going to benefit company performance and staff retention over the longer term.

Where possible as employers/managers:

  • Make sure all management staff are aware of the business benefits of annual leave.
  • Positively encourage all staff to book their leave; remind them of how much allocation is outstanding.
  • Ensure you’re not rewarding people for not taking leave/working while away!
  • Avoid expressing frustrations regarding the person’s absence or workload.
  • Book temps to ease any workload pressures.
  • Encourage staff to set clear out of offices and only forward emails to in-house staff covering the person’s holiday. Expressly tell staff not to check their emails if they have off-site access!
  • Make sure someone is on hand to communicate with any clients while the person is away. If possible; provide clear contact details for this person. This could be your temp.
  • Save all email/phone updates for the employee’s return; notify your colleagues to do the same. It’s as simple as saving emails as drafts or using your email service’s scheduling options.

It doesn’t take long to implement these steps and they will fast become part of your company’s standard annual leave practice.

Where possible as an employee:

  • Book your leave under the terms of your allowance!
  • Avoid the hypothetical. Have you actually been asked to leave your phone/work email on or are you just feeling that you should? Is your colleague really incapable of covering the basics while you’re away? Do you absolutely need to take that work away with you?
  • Any workload or performance concerns should ideally be discussed with your manager or HR personnel – and preferably with adequate time to make any plans or cover preparations before your holiday.

Want to book a temp to cover annual leave? Call the office on 01225 313130 or email us today.   

Over on the Appoint LinkedIn!

Did you know that the Appoint LinkedIn page also houses exclusive content?

As you know, we use the main Appoint news page to update you on the latest recruitment and business happenings. That’s whether you’re reading the news as a job hunter or manager/employer. In fact, you’ll find many articles detail specific advice for all parties.

Alongside this, and as an extension of our recruitment news, we also have active social media feeds. Feeds which are regularly updated with exclusive content alongside new job alerts.

Recent examples on the Appoint LinkedIn page include…

  1. How not to irritate your work colleagues. A roundup of the 10 things that most irritate British workers, according to HR News and EBuyer!
  2. Over 2 in 3 candidates have declined their dream job. Why this is and what businesses can do about it.
  3. Take action this spring. There’s still time to use the season to your advantage – just as Success Magazine recommends!
  4. Oldest, middle or youngest child? How your birth order affects your career choice. Or so says the Independent.
  5. The 15 sentences your interviewer does not want to hear. Also including an extra link to support their advice!
  6. 19 successful people who made big career changes post-30. Because new careers aren’t reserved only for school leavers. There are so many possibilities post-30 and far beyond!
  7. How to shrink your stress levels without hurting your salary, via HR News’s quick-fire guidance.
  8. Will you be one of the 6 million people working into their 80s? With findings from the ‘working late’ report.
  9. Whether working when sick is our unhealthiest national obsession. A topic discussed fresh after winter, yet one that’s still making regular news headlines this spring.
  10. Is your job costing you more than £1.5K a year? Why this might be and the costs that most frustrate workers.

Please note: you may need to sign into your LinkedIn feed to access the above links. Don’t forget to follow the Appoint LinkedIn page so you receive all future updates directly to your feed.

Do let us know if there’s a particular topic you’d like to read more about. You can also share your thoughts and access more exclusive content via Twitter.

Why you need a creative side project

Are you achieving your creative potential? Do you even consider yourself creative? We look at the research from Bloom and how this may benefit your career…

Creativity is calling!

The majority (64%) of people say they haven’t reached their creative potential; a statistic which increases among younger respondents (reaching 71% for 18 to 34-year-olds). These findings come from a new art app named Bloom, with the study capturing the attention of a number of media outlets.

While you may be one of the many people that don’t deem themselves creative, the experts argue against this! After all, as children, most of us were naturally able to play creatively. The definition simply being “relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something”.

So, your creativity is within yet, for whatever reason, it’s hidden away. Most likely due to lack of time, workplace priorities or feeling that play is only for children.

Why we all need to be more creative 

Perhaps you think we should just leave things be and get on with our daily lives? Your career could think otherwise! You see, creativity can:

  • Provide another form of self-expression
  • Increase confidence and self-esteem
  • Offer a feeling of reward and self-efficacy
  • Lead to a sense of ‘flow’, wherein you lose yourself to the task at hand
  • Reduce stress and increase mindfulness
  • Foster new skills
  • Help work through personal and workplace challenges
  • And even increase your income! As positions requiring creative thought can be more resilient against technological automation.

How to set up your creative side project

Your creativity can take so many forms. It can be free; it can be quick. Or it can be more of a time/financial investment. Some ideas include…

Free to cheap pursuits:

  1. Set up a YouTube channel or blog
  2. Grow something/s in a container
  3. Take part in an Instagram challenge, such as a photo-a-day
  4. Dust off your camera (or phone!) and up your photography skills
  5. Draw, paint, sketch or colour

More indulgent endeavours in & around Bath:

  1. Sign up for cookery classes and/or work your way through those listed on Visit Bath
  2. Get crafty at The Makery workshops
  3. Book in for a Digital Photography class at Bath College, or perhaps a Creative Writing Course
  4. Take up a local dance class
  5. Check out the Autumn Programme at Bath Artists’ Studios and/or Verve

Of course, these are only a handful of ideas to get you started. Feel you lack the time to do so? You may want to read this post.

[Facts & stats via Refinery 29Stylist (warning: may auto-play video with sound); High50]

No time for free time?

The British working population is feeling the strain once again, with many people saying they have no time for ‘free time’ in their working weeks…

This statement accounts for 43% of a recent survey population (as reported by HRnews). More specifically, the workers state they have anywhere from ‘little’ or ‘very limited’ to absolutely ‘no’ time to use as they please.

Almost 40% of respondents attribute their increased stress to this lifestyle – and 11% believe it’s affecting their health.

How are workers spending their time away from work?

It is not just our paid work that’s taking over our lives. In fact, overtime only accounted for just over 1/4 of our pre- and post work commitments.

Instead, it’s those everyday household tasks stealing most of our non-work time (39%). Then, in second place, comes our childcare responsibilities (32%).

The rest of this time is split between household admin and a small amount of cooking. See the full percentage breakdown here.

We’re also feeling the squeeze at work…

These responses immediately made us think of our recent article on ‘life admin’ at work. If 82% of full-time workers are completing personal tasks during office hours – and 43% of people have no time for anything beyond their daily chores! – it appears the nation is feeling the responsibility squeeze.

Note: if you haven’t already read the life admin piece, it comes highly recommended. After all, it highlights the data and security risks posed by this common habit.

What can we do about this problem?

The root of this issue will naturally vary by household. For some, it will be the case of a single person undertaking long hours and then holding sole responsibility for everything out of work. For others, it could be the case of some simple time management shifting. Of course, it could also be another sign of ‘hurry worry’!

Due to the heterogeneous nature of this problem, we cannot offer specific advice. However, we do have some key questions for you:

  • Is your current role allowing you to arrive home at a reasonable time? Is there anything you could do about your commute?
  • Is there any flexibility on your working hours?
  • Are you in the position to consider part-time work?
  • Have you ever measured how you’re currently using your out-of-work time to see whether there are any wasted periods that could be repurposed for relaxation or personal interests?
  • Is there anyone that you could ask to help you with your household tasks?

This list is by no means exhaustive, yet the stats certainly highlight the need to intervene in some way. Should a new role be the right next step for you, we’d be delighted to receive your application.

Burnout concerns at a high

It turns out burnout concerns are affecting people in the South more than their Northern counterparts…

Research reveals:

  • 25% of southern employees are most likely to leave their job due to workplace stress
  • 30% constantly ‘feel on edge’
  • 27% lack confidence in their ability to source alternative work
  • 16% report an aggressive management style

While this news appears worrying for the South, the national picture isn’t far improved. 22% of Northern workers cite workplace stress as their primary reason for leaving a job, and 18% of those in the Midlands say the same.

Helen Monk of Crunch Accounting –the source of this research study– comments: “it’s concerning to see a universally consistent picture of stress and anxiety caused by workplace issues. Perhaps not surprisingly, this issue seems to be affecting confidence levels and damaging self-esteem.”

We agree with Monk’s consequent suggestion that many people could benefit from ‘leaving for pastures new’.

Beat your burnout concerns:

Experience attests how high stress and reduced self-esteem can leave employees with a sense of ‘being trapped’ in their present role. Yet we’ve also seen how a proactive approach is the best way to take control and overcome some of these feelings.

  1. Start compiling your Skills & Achievements Master List. While it may feel tough at first, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your list grows, and what a boost it offers to read over!
  2. Swot up on our top tips for a Complete Career Change. This post shows how your plans can be achieved when you put the appropriate steps in place.
  3. Keep on top of the news. The latest headlines demonstrate just how active the employment market is, and how many businesses are urgently seeking skilled staff. Another sign that alternative work is out there!
  4. Check out our latest jobs! As you can see, we have a host of fantastic local clients looking for Temporary and Permanent assistance. We’d be delighted to receive your application.

[Source: HR News 25th Apr 2017]