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The perks of investing imaginatively in employee wellbeing

01 Dec 2017

Colleagues discussing mental health work

Cathy Hayward is the MD of Magenta Associates, an award-winning specialist B2B communications, public relations and content agency based in Brighton. She explains how Magenta made mental health and wellbeing an integral part of its workplace culture…

The topic of wellbeing, especially in the workplace, is becoming increasingly prevalent around the world, particularly in the UK. A recent government report found that up to 300,000 people leave their jobs each year due to mental health-related issues. It’s time for employers to step up and tackle the issue of mental ill-health, as well as physical ill-health, if we’re going to seriously start making positive changes in workplace wellbeing and work cultures.

It should come as no surprise that the space you work in can drastically affect health and wellbeing, let alone engagement and productivity levels. Place an employee in a dark, uninspiring and dull space, and their work ethic and enthusiasm will mirror it. Equally, put a staff member in a vibrant, functional and productivity-enhancing space; and their wellbeing and overall enjoyment of the time spent in said space will go through the roof.

At Magenta, we pride ourselves on genuinely investing extensive time, effort and funds into the wellbeing of our staff, and implementing the protocol across the company structure and ethos. From simple and relatively cost-effective techniques, such as providing fresh fruit, coffee and breakfast each morning and weekly martial arts/fitness classes to get the body moving – all the way through to our annual trip abroad to a European city of the team’s choice to thank them for their work – we try to get as imaginative as possible, when aiding and implementing wellbeing at work. We operate a welcoming culture between all staff and encourage an open dialogue, no matter what position or role in the company.

We ensure all employees have a voice and access to a support network by offering personal one-to-one meetings between junior and senior members of the team, regular catch-ups about to do lists and quarterly “continuous conversations” to review progression paths, as opposed to appraisals. We also foster social cohesion and collaboration by running company-wide brainstorming sessions, creative planning days, and even stress management presentations. The team are always encouraged to share their thoughts, comments and ideas, and help each other wherever possible. Creating an open and embracing culture helps employees of all ages and experiences work together, bond, and ultimately, positively affect their mental wellbeing.

Considering the link between workplace wellbeing and performance, employers cannot afford to neglect the topic of mental health. Gone are the days of simply following impersonal corporate HR protocols; there is now an expectation that employers genuinely look after their people. Thankfully, there is also a real willingness to ensure people are as happy at work as they are at home. Research by Leesman, the world’s largest assessor of workplace effectiveness, found that of the 250,000 employees across the world, only 57 per cent of all employees agree their workspace enables them to work productively. What’s more, only half of the hundreds of thousands of employees Leesman has surveyed agree that their office is a place they’re proud to bring visitors to. Imagine the impact that would have on one’s wellbeing, knowing that you’re about to commute to a place of work that doesn’t support you in your day-to-day role, or inspire any sense of pride.

I firmly believe that within any workplace, there should be a comfortable, open and pleasant working environment. Obviously, there are key techniques to consider when attempting to achieve this, namely; employing the right staff for your company ethos, keeping open dialogues between junior and senior employees, and treating your staff well. The latter is the most important in my eyes. If you look after your employees, they will look after you; it’s as simple as that.

In short, successfully implementing workplace wellbeing into your work culture and company ethos is no longer a short, easy task. It requires time, effort, funds, willingness and a genuine want from employers to support their staff, and reward them for their hard work. So, try to get creative, inventive, think outside the box, and encourage your team to work hard to ensure great results for all. 

Cathy Hayward, MD, Magenta Associates

Cathy is a communications specialist with more than 15 years’ experience in a range of journalistic, publishing and marketing roles. She set up Magenta in spring 2011 to plug the gap between the big PR agencies, which have huge expertise but not always the in-depth knowledge of the clients and publications, and the one-man-bands who are brilliant with their clients and the journalists but often don’t have the necessary bandwidth.

Her Magenta role followed a career in B2B journalism which included founding and editing FM World magazine, and writing for titles as diverse as Marketing Week, Charity Finance, Soccer Analyst, Financial Management, Director, Supply Management and Unions Today.

Mental health in the workplace

The IoD is committed to raising awareness of mental health issues in the workplace, with a particular focus on opening up the conversation for small and medium-sized businesses. We have created a hub packed full of helpful advice, best practice and useful resources, as well as shared experiences from business leaders.

Visit our mental health in the workplace hub

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