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The Retail Bulletin

Prioritise organisational changes for better employee well-being, advises workplace safety expert

If individual mental health initiatives don’t help improve employee mental health, what can employers do to help their workers?

Workplace safety expert says it’s time to give employees the power to decide.

Mindfulness, mental health days and yoga classes are often cited as key workplace benefits, with companies hailing these as game-changing for their workers. But new research reveals this isn’t entirely true. A new study of over 46,000 UK workers across more than 200 organisations revealed that contrary to prevailing trends, individual-level mental well-being incentives, such as mindfulness, resilience training, stress management, relaxation classes, and well-being apps, may not yield the expected employee benefits. Instead, ‘organisational-level interventions, such as changes to scheduling, management practices, staff resources, performance reviews, and job design’, are suggested to be more impactful in improving overall well-being in the workplace.

After looking into the research, Richard Bedworth, a VP Sales at StaySafe, one of the world’s leading lone worker apps, has broken down meaningful changes companies can make to boost employee retention:

“We’ve all seen job adverts with benefits such as well-being apps and mindfulness sessions listed, and many of us have been drawn in by them under the belief that they would make our lives better. However, we now know that in general these ‘benefits’ actually do littlefor individual wellbeing and mental health, and as such, more thought is needed from companies on how they can best support workers.

“There are varying ways leaders can go about this, but going back to the drawing board, rather than trying to change what already exists, is often the most effective way to pioneer change and make a real difference to workers.”

Make processes clear and concise
This is such a simple step, but one that is so easy to put to the bottom of the pile. All business processes that affect workers should be documented and easily accessible. This is true for everything from health and safety procedures to individual job descriptions and performance plans. Removing any blockers and ambiguity makes sure everyone is on the same page and understands both individual contributions and the wider business goals and systems.

Prioritise safety
The safety of workers is paramount for everyone involved. But it’s not just physical impact; safety has a knock-on impact on mental health. Research states that employees who feel unsafe at work are more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression, as such, implementing and clearly communicating safety practices are paramount.

Be flexible
Company-wide flexible working can often be one of the easiest processes to implement, but it can have a hugely positive impact on workers, giving them autonomy and the ability to fit life commitments around work. In turn, has been proven to help reduce stress and anxiety. Flexible working isn’t just about having a hybrid working policy, however – it’s important to give individuals and teams the autonomy to manage their own workload whenever, and from wherever, they want.

Regular training and development
Implementing regular training and development is instrumental in creating a workplace that values and supports everyone. By investing in ongoing education, businesses contribute to a culture where employees thrive, feel supported, and can effectively balance work and life. What’s more, targetted training filters down and across teams and creates a happier, more harmonious workforce.

Engage employees
However, by far the most important step a business can take is engaging employees. Every employee is different, so often there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. While it’s true that you will never be able to give every individual exactly what they want, giving employees the freedom to have a say on organisational changes that affect them will make them feel part of the business, which in turn, can boost morale.

Richard, adds, “We’re at a point now where we know that what we’ve been doing isn’t necessarily having the desired effect on a broader level. As employers, we do have a duty of care to our staff to ensure we are doing all we can to make them feel happy and healthy. After all, a happy and healthy workforce is only good for businesses overall, by reducing things such as staff turnover and sickness, and improving productivity.”

Further reading: StaySafe encourages employers to prioritise employee well-being in 2024