Mental health and wellbeing

Why promote workplace wellbeing?

Productive and fulfilling work is widely considered to enhance mental health and wellbeing, contributing to an individual’s sense of identity and self-worth, skill development, relationship building and social skills.

However, it’s estimated that one in every seven workdays lost to mental health is related to work issues. Stress in the workplace can come from bullying, workload, inflexible work scheduling or being left out of decision-making. Stress levels can vary from industry to industry.

Good mental health, a positive frame of mind and supportive environments make it easier for employees to resist stress, tackle challenges and develop resilience to the pressures of modern life.

How do we support employees’ wellbeing?

The workplace can be an ideal setting for educating individuals on the link between health and wellbeing, as well as general health topics.

Employers have a duty of care to identify and control hazards in the workplace that can impact on physical and psychological health and should appreciate that factors in an employee’s personal life can also affect their mental health.

Ideas to get you started

Description Healthy vision Healthy places Healthy people
Include staff wellbeing on relevant meeting and planning agendas. This may include: flexible working arrangements, return to work planning and social planning.    
Manage staffing levels to ensure that adequate resources are available to meet workload requirements during times of high demand.    
Consult with your health and wellbeing committee, health and safety representatives and staff to determine work related stressors and encourage contribution of ideas to minimise stressors.  
Initiate a feedback mechanism/ forum for employees to participate in general or specific issue decision making.    
Develop appropriate policies and procedures in workplace bullying prevention and occupational violence. Ensure managers and team leaders are appropriately trained to support the policy.    
Develop and support a procedure for addressing conflict, grievances and critical incidents in the workplace.    
Establish a culture of recognising and taking lunch breaks and other breaks as awarded in your sector. Provide suitable spaces for these breaks.  
Include a regularly updated social calendar and volunteering opportunities in staff induction materials along with other relevant wellbeing policy and information.    
Analyse the level of noise and excessive or restricted unnatural light in workspaces and improve where able.    
Promote Employee Workplace Assistance Program as an option to confidentially discuss stress, anxiety, confidence or other issues.    
Promote opportunities to run and contribute to a social planning committee/ calendar.    
Promote links to local community opportunities such as book clubs, libraries, art, dance, sporting, craft and woodworking clubs.    
Provide links and updates to local support services, such as local chronic disease management groups, support groups, domestic abuse, mental health support, financial and time management services and local community health services.    
Have an accredited guest speaker attend the worksite to discuss health and wellbeing on topics such as helping those in distress.    
Provide onsite seminars or workshops on a number of topics such as financial planning, stress reduction techniques, organisation management.    
Update staff on recognised health assessment tools (self-assessment or services offered by local resources e.g. GP practices).    

Building on your program

Description Healthy vision Healthy places Healthy people
Senior management encourage work life balance with policies and practices reflecting individual employee needs.    
Provide training opportunities to team leaders and management regarding managing and addressing emotional distress, building resilience or other.    
Audit the amount of space available for relaxation, storage and socialising. Improvements (where able) could include adding comfortable chairs, reading materials, lighting, access to healthy food and drink, private phone call areas, noise levels, cleanliness and accessibility to safe storage of personal belongings.    
Consider enforced break opportunities e.g. computer disabling programs, worksite stop and stretch/rest breaks.    
Create opportunities for management and team leaders to attend Mental Health First Aid or other similar accredited program.    
Allocate time to employees to take part in Mental Health Awareness training or other similar accredited program.    
Conduct sleep and fatigue management seminars with either a guest speaker or appropriately trained employee.    

Also general health and wellbeing

Description Healthy vision Healthy places Healthy people
Implement and enforce a comprehensive sun safety program for employees (where relevant).  
Host a general wellness challenge over several weeks focused on wellbeing, e.g. improved stress management techniques, increase fruit and veg intake, trialling new exercise ideas.    
Run an annual family fun day or workplace picnic. Consider opportunities for a guest celebrity to attend or access to free give-aways Think broadly : egg and spoon races, a healthy cooking challenge, game-show or quiz night.    
Offer staff access to confidential personal health assessments. These can focus on chronic disease risk factors but also include sight and hearing tests, stress and blood screening tests.    
Create a health ‘lending library’ including a health journal subscription, quality nutrition and fitness books or magazines and information on goal setting.    
Promote, local and roving cancer screening units, such as BreastScreen.and vaccination programs. Allow employees time to visit local services or register the unit to come to your workplace.    
Survey staff about local volunteer and fundraising opportunities, and establish committees to increase participation (as appropriate).    

Support and resources

There are a number of places you can go for more information and support on this topic, as well as ways to help improve and/or maintain employees’ general wellbeing.

Download ‘Strategies to promote wellbeing in the workplace Guide: what to do and where to find support’ (PDF 343KB)

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