October brings wonderful opportunities to explore the many of aspects of wellbeing and how these affect our lives in all respects.
Wellbeing is an ever-evolving subject, one that has kept me enthralled for the last 12 years or more, and of course it involves so many wide-ranging elements of our lives involving our work, home, family, community and ourselves.
It includes the way we engage at work, the environment in which we spend the majority of our working lives, and how it makes us feel. It’s all about the ethics of the businesses we are involved with, inclusivity and belonging, workplace culture, and the authenticity of our corporate leaders.
It’s also about our community, civic leadership, our overall social and economic resilience, community relations, connectivity and safety, and our responsibility to nature and the environment. On an individual level, it revolves around not only the essentials of physical, mental and emotional health and financial security, but it’s also about our relationships, our own self-worth, awareness and resilience.
The more we know, the more we can support ourselves, our loved ones and our colleagues with their own individual needs and issues. This helps to create solid foundations and sustainable success for the years ahead.
Wellbeing is always an individual matter; one size doesn’t fit all and everyone has different issues they are coping with. The workplace is no different. All individuals want to be heard, listened to, respected and appreciated for the people they are, and therefore leaders who listen and allow respectful space and grace will go a long way to cultivate employee trust, loyalty and engagement.
The workplace can be a very stressful environment. Work gives us purpose, routine and a support network of colleagues, although it can also create and feed our anxiety. This can hold us back from performing to the best of our abilities, which can become a vicious circle of worry and concern.
According to the Anxiety Centre and Anxiety UK, 41% of employees in the US experience workplace anxiety, whilst in the UK, in 2019/20, an estimated 828,000 workers were affected by work-related stress, depression or anxiety, accounting for 51% of all work-related ill health and 55% of all days lost due to work-related ill-health.
As they quite rightly say, to an employer, it’s not just the financial cost to the business that needs to be considered, but the impact on your employees and their perception of you as an employer. As a good employer, you’ll want to invest in your people. Creating a mentally healthy workplace improves productivity, increases profit and brings out the best in everyone. Those living with mental health difficulties can and do work and supporting them can save significant costs in terms of employee turnover, under-performance and untapped potential.
Another important aspect of wellbeing is values, and Thursday, 20th October is World Values Day. Values are what matter to us most, often referred to as the glue holding societies and the wider world together. The way we approach our values is an essential aspect of wellbeing, societally and this year the theme is on values for community.
Our workplaces are also very much our community for the large part of our day and therefore we see workplace values as an essential element of good leadership and culture. A working environment which is toxic or where values are not lived by its leaders will surely exacerbate burnout, anxiety and employee turnover, no matter how resilient individual employees are.
We will explore many of these ideas over the coming weeks and months with the help of our local and international network of thought leaders.
National Work Life Week
We will begin our wellbeing journey with National Work Life Week, which runs next week, from 10th to 14th October.
The week is an opportunity for both employers and employees to focus on wellbeing at work and work-life balance. Employers can use the week to provide activities for people, to showcase their flexible working policies and practices, and to highlight role model leaders in the workplace.
This year, the theme is on increasing access to flexible working and finding the flex in every role, which is more important than ever given the current cost-of-living crisis. It’s an opportunity to showcase all of the ways flexibility is possible in your organisation, including home and hybrid working, flexible hours, job share, term-time working, shift swapping, compressed and annualised hours, support for parents, carers, and people with other commitments outside of work. It will also include how employers can support their employees with financial wellbeing, workload and cultural expectations, and helping them to find ways to disconnect and switch off.
The month of October brings us many awareness days to reflect on
As well as National Work Life Week, the month of October provides us with many other days which highlight wellbeing issues.
Front of mind is Menopause Awareness Month, something which may well affect us all, either directly or indirectly, both at home and in our working lives. It is therefore something which should be talked about openly. The same of course applies to many other issues which can affect our lives and those of our employees. The key message is that we need to be increasingly aware of the needs of those around us, and the issues they are living with outside of work.
October brings us the opportunity to reflect on some of these issues, many of which may affect us all in some way or other. It’s National Cholesterol Month, Pituitary Awareness Month, Lupus Awareness Month, Go Sober for October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Bullying Prevention Month, ADHD Awareness Month, Black History Month, and more. It also includes National Hygiene Week, Dyslexia Awareness Week, Back Care Awareness Week, Baby Loss Awareness Week, Public Health Workforce Week – many individual awareness days, and it’s World Smile Day today!
Next Monday, 10th October is World Mental Health Day – an issue which is more prevalent than ever. Anxiety disorders affect people from all walks of life and the research shows it is increasing. Some blame social media, while others point to the fact that we lead increasingly stressful always-on lives. Whatever the reason, it is important to know that a number of effective treatment options can help, so if you feel your worries are becoming overwhelming and affecting your daily life, please reach out.