As the line continues to blur between professional and personal life, it isn’t uncommon that employees are affected by financial concerns or mental health problems which can stem from stressful personal lives. With these lifestyle problems increasingly being bought to work, it is important that companies cement wellbeing strategies into their employment offerings to help employees cope with stress.

The personalisation and relevance of wellbeing initiatives is key

Each employee will undoubtedly have different issues to deal with which, means that a one-size-fits-all approach to workplace wellbeing programmes is not sufficient. Wellbeing means different things to different people so it’s important to focus on the mind, body and soul and create a programme that caters to individual needs.

Positive mental health at work is a key issue currently for HR, and employers need to promote this. As an employer, you need to demonstrate commitment to promoting mental health and wellbeing, encouraging your managers to take ownership of this idea, and your employees to be self-aware and ask for help if they need it – this means fostering a culture where employees feel they can ask for help and be supported.

Better parental leave packages

Starting a family should be an exciting time, but for many couples are affected by financial worries and career uncertainties.

Particularly if the man is the main breadwinner, they may feel obliged to work right through their child’s early stages. To relieve some financial pressure, O2 has increased its paid paternity leave offering to 14 weeks for permanent employees – a move that O2’s CHRO Ann Pickering believes was a ‘simple decision’ that is also a key determiner for attracting and retaining top talent.

Moving away from a traditional two-week paternity policy and giving all new parents the opportunity to spend quality time with their family is an integral part of modern-day parenting. This parental leave offering will hugely benefit the wellbeing of new fathers as they will feel able to enjoy their time off without worrying about money.

Improved monitoring of employee mental health

According to research by Accenture, nine in 10 UK workers have been affected by mental health challenges – which is a large portion of each workforce. As a result, many businesses have reviewed their policies dealing with mental health. Promoting good health to all employees, being aware of early warning signs of mental ill health and having plans in place to assist employees who have a significant illness are key to supporting your employees.

Flexible working

Most employers are trialling flexible working patterns as flexibility has been shown to reduce work-related stress and boost productivity. One company paving the way for flexible working is Australian accountancy firm Ernst & Young, which has started to offer staff between 6 and 12 weeks of ‘life leave’. This self-funded chunk of holiday allows employees to travel, work part-time or simply relax in one of two blocks throughout the year.

A key benefit of offering flexible working is that employers can gain a competitive edge in recruiting the best candidates to join their business. Other benefits include increased productivity, enhanced motivation and reduced absenteeism and staff turnover within the workforce.” But, like with anything, it is not without its downsides. Drawbacks can include ineffective communication, poor management/supervision, issues with availability for clients, inconsistent treatment and possible working time and health and safety liabilities for the employer.

However, if flexible working patterns enable employees to cope with external challenges in their personal life, then businesses will reap the benefits.


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