Spring into the office: ensuring workplace wellbeing post-new year

15th February 2024

January and February are months notorious for post-holiday blues, the abrupt return to routine and the dreaded common cold. Whilst the new year is seen as a time for new beginnings, clean slates and a chance to set new goals, the shorter days and darker nights can cause a significant dip in employee wellbeing and, as a consequence, their focus and productivity. Employers may find themselves navigating a delicate balance between acknowledging the need for recuperation and maintaining and encouraging high levels of productivity. However, promoting wellbeing shouldn’t be allowed to tail off as winter draws to a close – it’s just as important all year round.

Promoting wellbeing

The start of a new year can be seen as a prime opportunity to kickstart new wellbeing initiatives which will not only benefit employees’ health and happiness during but also help to influence a more engaged and productive workforce for the rest of the year. Carrying these on throughout Spring – and the rest of the year – provide employees not only with initiatives to keep them happy and healthy but also with the knowledge that their employers really do care about their health and wellbeing.

Wellbeing initiatives involve anything from arranging weekly walks or coffee chats, to implementing regular check-ins and promoting healthy eating. Similarly, they can involve organising sessions on subjects such as mindfulness, nutrition and managing stress, along with things such as contributions to gym memberships, investing in an Employee Assistance Programme (“EAP”) or looking into flexible working practices promoting a healthy work-life balance.

However big or small the organisation is, investing in employee wellbeing can increase employee engagement and satisfaction, help to reduce sickness absence and, as a result, positively impact performance and overall productivity.

Managing absence due to mental health

Whilst implementing initiatives can have huge benefits in boosting morale and creating a motivational working environment, it is important to ensure consideration is given to those situations where mental health is affecting individuals’ ability to effectively perform their role, or is preventing them from attending the workplace at all.

Absences which are caused by mental health can sometimes be viewed as frightening to tackle due to employers worrying about ‘the right thing to say’. Often, the best place to start is by simply asking them how they are and offering an open channel of communication. Signposting them to an EAP, their GP or Mental Health First Aiders can provide other avenues to seek more professional help should they need it.

Whether your employee appears to be struggling whilst in the workplace, or is unable to attend work due to their mental health, ensuring the situation is managed effectively and adequate support is put in place is crucial for assisting both parties to enable a comfortable return to work and create a supportive environment assist them to thrive in their role.

Seeking professional HR or legal support when situations arise can allow you to achieve a supportive approach tailored to the specific needs of your employees, in turn helping to achieve the best outcome for both parties.

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