International Week of Happiness
25 September 2019 | By Annie Jarvis
This week is International Week of Happiness at Work, a worldwide initiative launched in 2018 to galvanize companies across the globe to focus on the importance of happiness and wellbeing in the workplace.
Whilst a relatively new initiative, this focus on positive wellbeing at work is becoming increasingly popular. This is not surprising given the alarming facts surrounding mental health in the UK today – one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and work related stress accounted for 45% of all working days lost to ill health in the UK in 2015/16, costing UK businesses £26billion per year.
But is one week’s worth of attention really enough?
Whilst there is some value in awareness weeks such as these, poor mental health doesn’t appear quite as sporadically. Happiness at work isn’t something that companies should focus on as and when it suits the schedules of those in charge but should be something that is grounded into the everyday lives of staff.
At Cause4 we are working hard to ensure that wellbeing of staff is a number one priority. Our office culture plan is a way to consider how our working environment affects our staff, and in 2018 we made the move to a co-working office space that offers additional perks such as yoga and meditation, allowing staff to break out of their daily routine.
Another key to building a happier workforce is to better understand mental health and how as an employer you can support your staff. This year I trained as a Mental Health Champion with St John’s Ambulance, which gave me the tools to identify those that may be suffering, listen without judgement, and support and signpost others to the appropriate places. This type of course is vital for any business, no matter what industry you operate in, and whilst you aren’t expected to act as a qualified counsellor, you are given the skills and confidence needed to support your colleagues.
A lack of flexibility and control are other areas that can often lead to workplace stress. When employees don’t feel as though they have control over their work-life balance, morale and productivity can reduce dramatically. Offering flexibility for employees with children; those that need to attend appointments, or those who want to dedicate an evening to volunteering can make a real difference to stress levels. Likewise, giving employees a chance to feedback to their managers and have a say in how a company functions can be crucial to giving them a voice and a way of feeling empowered. At Cause4 we’re continuously looking into how we can ensure effective feedback so that all staff have a chance to be heard. We’re now trialling a continuous feedback package that will allow us to respond immediately to issues or concerns as they arise.
Cause4 is working hard to focus on positive wellbeing at work, but like others, we have a long way to go. The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2020 depression will be the second most common health condition worldwide, a concerning fact that shows just how vital conversations like these are. Whilst we may not be able to prevent mental health problems, one of the biggest things employers can do is generate a culture where staff know they won’t be judged if they raise a mental health concern.
What does your office do to contribute to wellbeing at work? Do you have any tips for others on how to create a great office culture? Tweet us at @OfficialCause4.