Wellbeing at work

Creating a healthy workplace isn’t as difficult as you might think and it starts with small, simple changes.

Author

Sarah O'Donovan

Businesses that care about good mental health and wellbeing attract and retain top talent because they’re great places to work, as well as benefiting employees, a mentally healthy workplace is better for your bottom line.

Healthy workplaces promote mental health and wellbeing. They are positive and productive and get the best out of everyone. While the places we work come in all shapes and sizes, mentally healthy working environments have a number of things in common. 

Beyond Blue’s 10 signs of a mentally healthy workplace

1 Mental health is a priority 

Mental health is understood and openly discussed by all levels of the organisation.

2 Mental health support is available

Work colleagues and managers are supportive and responsive to employees’ mental health needs. 

3 Trusting, fair, respectful culture

Employees at all levels interact with honesty and respect and this extends to customers, clients and the public.

4 Open and honest leadership 

Leaders give employees a sense of shared purpose in achieving the goals of the organisation.

5 Good job design

Employees are equipped emotionally and adequately skilled for the job they do and have appropriate working arrangements. 

6 Workload management is addressed

Tasks can be accomplished successfully within the time available. 

7 Employee development and recognition

Employees are encouraged, acknowledged and rewarded. 

8 Employee inclusion and influence

Employees have control of the way they work and influence important decisions.

9 Physical safety is a given

Employees can carry out their work safely including being free from violence from customers and the public.

10 Work and life balance is acknowledged 

The need for balance between the demands of work, family and personal life are recognised. 

Research shows taking breaks can boost productivity

For employees, here are some simple steps you can take to promote wellbeing and take care of yourself at work:

Limit working extra hours

Working long hours can negatively impact your health. If this is something you find yourself doing, have a chat with your manager about your workload.

Schedule meetings during core working hours 

Arrange meetings within core working hours (9am–12.30pm and 1.30pm–5pm) to ensure your precious ‘out-of-hours’ time is protected.

Take regular breaks

Being busy all the time will ultimately lead to burnout. Research shows taking breaks can boost productivity. Walk around the block or go get 
some water.

Set realistic deadlines

Preparing a personal work schedule to ensure you complete work on time will improve productivity and help you work to a high standard without undue pressure. 

Take holiday leave

Taking holidays, or short getaways, helps reduce work-related stress, increases productivity, and prevents anxiety and depression.

Remember it’s okay to say no

It can be difficult to say no, but a manageable workload means you’re more likely to complete projects to a higher standard, leaving you in a better position to say yes to new tasks.  

‘Switch off’ from technology

Lead by example and don’t let emailing late at night become part of your work culture.

Make use of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Many workplaces offer EAPs to help employees with personal and work-related issues impacting their work performance, health and emotional wellbeing.

Explore flexible working arrangements

Making work fit better into your day-to-day life can help improve your general wellbeing. Work closely with your manager so you can do your job in a way that works for both of you.  

Heads Up

HIA Charitable Foundation partner Beyond Blue has come together with the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance to create Heads Up, a free web-based initiative supporting Australian workplaces.

Along with interactive tools that allow anyone to create an action plan for their workplace, the Heads Up website also provides a wealth of information on fostering healthy workplaces. 

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