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.

Simple workplace happiness hacks

When you think of finding happiness at work, you might picture a promotion, more rewarding project, or achieving your ultimate job goal. Yet what if we were to tell you that there are some simple steps you can take to make your current job at least a little happier? Not only that, but you could also bring happiness to your colleagues and/or employees by executing this newfound knowledge…

The recent Office Happiness Index suggests that this is indeed the case.

HR News shared the Index findings, also revealing that 75% of workers feel happy at work.

The leading happiness hacks are:

  1. Saying ‘well done’ and ‘thank you’ to colleagues. Receiving such acknowledgement from bosses and clients tops the list for 85% of professionals. However, we can all show our appreciation whatever our job role.
  2. Taking your lunch-break and encouraging others to do the same. Despite this being ranked the second happiest moment of each working week, we know that so many people aren’t taking their breaks. Managers need to ensure their team feels able to do so, finding ways to reduce strain where needed. Top tip: booking a temp can relieve a lot of pressure in periods of high demand/workload.
  3. Treating your colleagues to cakes, pastries, or similar. This simple gesture wins over 80% of people, plus it can be combined with the next most popular happiness hack…
  4. Asking someone how their weekend went. Even better, ask someone you don’t always chat with.
  5. Finding a way to fix that faulty piece of office equipment. A moment of bliss, according to 73% of participants!

You can also beat the biggest pet peeves by…

  1. Doing point 5. above! Yes, this leads the list of office peeves, so prioritise the fix (or find someone who can!).
  2. Checking your emails and comments for all hints of the ‘passive aggressive!’ It’s easy to let personal stresses spill into your comms with your colleagues, yet it’s certainly not the way to vent your concerns or win people over.
  3. Avoiding unnecessary meetings. If you’re calling a meeting, make sure it has a clear purpose and timeframe and only invite those who really need to be there.
  4. Cleaning your crockery! Dirty coffee mugs and cutlery left on desks are considered the bane of office life for 65% of workers. Get in the habit of clearing as you go – and win yourself some brownie points by offering to lend a hand to an even busier team member!
  5. Considering your temperature needs. It’s hard to make everyone happy with this one. What’s comfortably warm for one is irritatingly chilly for another…and yet far too hot for someone else. Wearing layers can help, plus asking around before you fiddle with the thermostat or whip open the windows. Managers should also consider the team’s individual seating and supply needs.

Talking of seating and supplies, the article also shares insights regarding the types of offices that create the most happiness.

In other happiness news…

The UK is considered one of the 30 happiest countries in the world. However, it scored 19th place and only just made the list when it came to work-life balance (28th). This was despite coming in the top 10 for salaries (9th). The top three happiest countries each had higher work-life balance scores than the UK’s:

  • Happiest nation: Finland (11th for work-life balance)
  • 2nd happiest: Norway (7th)
  • 3rd happiest: Denmark: (4th)

Elsewhere, it was reported that males born between the mid-1960s to early-1980s are the least happy working group. Public sector workers and those paid hourly as opposed to by salary also fared worse on their happiness scores.

Ready for the challenge of a new role? Check out the latest jobs in Bath & Somerset. You can also use these tips to take your job search to an expert level!

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.

Measuring Job Quality

The first measure of Job Quality has officially been launched. What is it and what’s affecting job quality right now?

Who’s rating your Job Quality?

This measure comes from the CIPD in the form of a new annual survey. This means workers themselves will be rating their own job quality as well as its relative importance across a series of ‘seven dimensions’.

You may recall that the Taylor Review recommended such a measurement approach – and stated its importance across all job roles and arenas.

The results of the inaugural survey show:

  • Job satisfaction is relatively high at 64%. However, ‘low-level’ workers and middle managers are each facing high stress with poor support.
  • Furthermore, ‘low-skilled’ and casual workers are lacking development opportunities. 37% of this group has not received any training over the past year. What’s more, 43% say their ‘job did not give them opportunities to develop their skills’.
  • Middle managers are also experiencing the ill-effects of high stress. 35% report an excessively high workload, while 28% are facing mental health consequences.
  •  28% of middle management respondents are additionally struggling to maintain their personal commitments.

For further findings and the CIPD’s response, please refer to HR Magazine.

Thoughts from a recruitment agency…

It’s hard not to welcome any exploration of job satisfaction. This sits well with our recent report on the measurement of soft skills – something also proposed by the Taylor Review.

Both aspects are vital to the everyday functioning of our national workforce and place workers’ abilities and attitudes right at the heart of things.

The more that this is all discussed, the more employers will become aware of these topics. Hopefully leading to a happier and more productive workforce all-around!

What matters to you in your career or business needs? And what would you like to see more of on our news page? Tell us here.

Beating your Monday Blues!

The Monday Blues appear to be a major cause of workplace absence in the UK. What can you do to beat yours? Sorry, sweet pooch not included. However, they do say looking at animal photos is good for the spirits..!

Remember the annual National Sickie Day? According to the ELAS Group (via HRnews), it’s a thing of the past. However, Mondays may pose a significant cost to our economy – with double the absence rate of Fridays.

A spokesperson for Activ Absence suggests employers watch out for such patterns in their business, so they’re better able to identify ongoing employee issues such as stress.

But what about your own Monday Blues?

Note: the advice that follows is really simple! In fact, some of it may strike you as obvious. Yet how much of this are we all actively trying?

Firstly, question what’s at the root of your Monday Blues. Is it personal (e.g. you’re just exhausted, you’re routinely feeling under the weather, personal distractions, etc.), is it work (your role, your colleagues, your boss), or is it a complete combination of these factors?

If it’s personal…

  • Think about what’s actually under your control – your sleep, diet, exercise, social life, relaxation time, etc. If it’s everything, prioritise what’s most neglected and start making small tweaks from there.
  • There are so (/too!) many excellent resources to support you with this. For the sleep-deprived, we rate The Sleep Solution by Chris Winters. We also recommend the Feelgood Bath website for links to all sorts of local health and fitness services.
  • We’re sure you know that you should always consult a GP if you’re struggling with low mood or anxiety. In BANES we’re lucky to have access to free courses on worry, stress, assertiveness, mood management and more (in addition to traditional talking therapy services).
  • Rethink your weekends. Are you leaving any space to unwind before the start of each week? Try to reserve a slot from at least Sunday afternoon onwards solely for leisure time. Use this slot for anything you find truly relaxing. Whether that’s getting outdoors, reading, cooking, etc. If you’re a parent/carer, this may not be so straightforward. Yet see what you can do to incorporate family or group relaxation time. Is there something slower paced that can be enjoyed together?
  • Rituals work well. Do something you truly love each Sunday evening, so the focus is on this rather than an early dose of the Monday Blues! Avoid stimulants (alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar etc.) at this time, so you don’t wake up with a crash.

And/or if it’s work…

  • What is it about your work that’s troubling you? Is it a tricky colleague, demanding boss, high workload, dull workload? Again, consider what it is about each element that’s under your control. You may not be able to change your boss’s demands yet you could find a constructive way of discussing how you can meet them. Dull workloads can be made a little more interesting by setting yourself challenges, finding ways to streamline processes, etc.  If you’re really feeling flat you may need to rope in someone else to assist with the suggestions!
  • Get even more organised. Use Monday mornings to plot out your week. Better still, do it at the end of the week so you can review this list first thing each Monday. There’s something inherently satisfying about ticking through lists! If you’ve got a choice as to what to do next, pick the task that will motivate you most right now.
  • Talk more. If you’re in the position to! It can really help to get outside of your head and interact with someone else. Even if it’s just a few minutes spent comparing weekends while the kettle boils. The sooner you get chatting the faster you can break the blues bubble.
  • Remember those rituals? Find small ways of cheering yourself up each Monday. Listen to your favourite song on your way to/at work. Eat a nice bit of something homemade as a morning snack. Plan a small treat or activity for your lunch break. Dot little pick-me-up rituals right through the day if you need to!
  • Question how long this has actually been going on for. Is it time to start your job search?

If it’s a worry about not finding work…

It’s extra tricky when Monday mornings mean waking up and worrying about not having a job to go to. This is a big topic which deserves a full post another day. Meanwhile…

  • Make sure Mondays still mean structure. Aim to rise as if it’s a standard working day and schedule a variety of job-seeking tasks throughout. Remember to include a full lunch-break (as well as some kettle breaks!) and use this time to get some fresh air and eat away from your screen. Also have a cut-off ‘home time’ point, in which you stop your search and enjoy your evening.
  • Use our 7 days of Job Hunting tips to inspire your schedule and do all that you can to improve your chances of finding a great next role. Introducing new approaches to job-searching can make the whole process feel less stale. Much more motivating when the new week swings around!
  • Don’t isolate yourself. Find ways of seeing others. Whether that’s going for a walk with a friend, having a quick chat with a neighbour, or similar. If you don’t know/have anybody nearby, see if there are any Skype groups you can join. It’s amazing the difference a bit of interaction can make. Volunteering is another excellent option here and clearly offers multiple rewards.
  • There will be lots of times when there’s nowhere else to send your CV/nobody to meet about work right now. Use these times to review the personal elements mentioned above and to catch up on your daily admin. The more you do to support your health and wellbeing, the better equipped you’ll be to start your next role.
  • Of course, as above, if your worries about your work situation are getting too much for you, it’s vital to speak to your GP.

Alongside all of today’s advice, start telling yourself you really like Mondays! Strangely, the more you think and say it, the more you learn to believe it. You can also tell us what works for you over on Twitter and LinkedIn

Your smartphone, your health. What’s the connection?

Your smartphone, your health. How one global business expert draws the connection between the two.

Workers must “take better care of themselves than they do their smartphones” – Arianna Huffington. 

The name Huffington will ring a bell for many of you. Especially for anyone who has ever read a piece on the Huffington Post (now ‘Huff Post’) – which Arianna co-founded and previously ran as editor-in-chief. However, Huffington’s illustrious career and ‘work ethic’ truly caught up with her in 2007 when she collapsed in exhaustion, breaking her cheekbone in the fall.

Arianna is now a staunch wellness advocate and has already written a couple of books on the subject.

The smartphone + health connection…

The smartphone and health connection demonstrates how little attention many of us pay to our own wellbeing. Speaking to the HR Tech World convention, Huffington said:

“If I were to ask you how much battery your smartphone has, you would have some idea. “If my battery drops to around 13% I start looking for a recharging shrine. However, if you’d asked me the day I collapsed how much charge I had I would say I was fine. We’ve forgotten what fine is. We need people to take better care of themselves than they do their smartphones.”

Huffington later elaborates on this concept, reminding people of the need to take a tech break so as not to keep missing out on life’s finer details. It’s at this stage we should mention that she has also developed a notification-blocking app to help you achieve this!

Employees would perform better if they had more sleep

You need only open HRNews to find another article supporting these sentiments. It has been revealed that 74% of employees fail to sleep 8 hours a night.

Furthermore, respondents believe this is affecting their work, with 66% saying their performance would improve if they slept more. These findings were especially prevalent among workers aged 18 to 44 (reaching 73% for this age group).

Reassuringly, 74% of those surveyed do not blame their employers for their lack of sleep. Conversely, they say their management “does encourage them to take off when they need to take care of their health and wellness.”

So what steps should we be taking?

  • For employers: keep highlighting the need for your team to take time for themselves. There are so many resources out there to support your efforts, including the CIPD’s Well-being guide. Consider which new health initiatives you are in the position to introduce and remind your staff of what’s available to them. Finally –and perhaps most importantly!– make sure your actions match your intentions by managing overtime demands and minimising out-of-hours communications.
  • For employees: it’s time to take steps to reduce your load. Alongside reviewing tools such as those mentioned above, you can read our guide on reducing stress at work and/or check out our list of contacts and resources for anyone affected by mental health problems.
  • For job-seekers: the same advice applies. Frustrations with existing roles and/or concerns regarding your career path can further amplify your stress levels. Working closely with an experienced Recruitment Consultant can ease some of this burden. We’d also recommend reading ‘Your CV: and what to do before you write it‘ to remove some of the stress from the first stage of your job search.

[Quotes & stats: HR Magazine & HR News]

Workplace wellness: hay fever remedies!

How not to let seasonal allergies halt your productivity at work. AKA, here’s to sharing our favourite Hay fever remedies with you all…

The cost of hay fever!

Anyone wondering how seasonal allergies are connected to recruitment and business news need only turn to last season’s stats:

  • 41% of UK adults are affected by hay fever
  • This costs 11 working days per person each year…
  • …which tots up to a national 29 million working days 

Luckily, there is plenty that can be done to ease your workday suffering – and stop you sneezing your way through career-changing meetings!

Before you hit the office:

  • Check the pollen forecast and hide inside on as many high pollen days as you can! If you have to head into an office, make sure you have your lunch with you, along with something to keep you entertained. After all, we also know that a proper lunch break is just the ticket for workplace productivity!
  • Too many items on your daily to-do list? Before 10am and after 3pm are your best time-slots for any urgent errand running.
  • Don a pair of wraparound sunglasses to prevent pollen entering your eyes and nostrils during your morning commute, and don’t forget to keep car windows closed as you drive through the leafier parts of the city.

At your desk…

  • Turn on a desk air purifier. These help to minimise pollen levels, along with those of other common allergens such as dust mites and mould spores.
  • Dust and clean your workspace. It’s important to take a damp cloth to your desk on a regular basis – the Met Office recommends twice weekly.
  • Snack on kiwi and pineapple, stir turmeric into your lunch, add red onion to your salads and sandwiches (though be sure to pack some mints!), and eat plenty of orange and green fruits and vegetables.
  • While you’re at it, sip on nettle or liquorice teas and/or hot water and ginger.
  • Keep a natural hay fever remedy, such as Weleda’s Oral Spray in your desk drawer.

Once home…

  • Hop in the shower, wash your hair and pop on some fresh clothes.
  • Reserve outdoor laundry drying sessions for low pollen count days.
  • Apply a cool flannel to itchy eyes, and  –whatever you do– resist the urge to scratch or else your eyes will soon be all the itchier!

Got a hay fever tip to share with us? Drop us a tweet. You can also find us sharing our top career and business finds on LinkedIn – we’d love to see you there! 

[Today’s advice has been compiled from the following sources: Telegraph; Allergy UK; Met Office; Wolters Kluwer; Body and Soul.]