Why you should care about your employees’ mental health

Taking responsibility for employees’ mental wellbeing is something that every business should be considering, whether you employ 10 people or 10,000. Morally, we all have a responsibility to support each other and showing that you take that responsibility seriously sends out a positive message about your business, to both staff and customers.

People are far more likely to trust, and want to work for a business which shows it cares about its staff. Employers who look after their staff are going to look after their customers too.

Take, for example, John Lewis. It works hard to send out a message to customers that it can be trusted, that it cares. In turn, customers feel confident shopping there. They feel good about spending their money because they are confident it is going to a company which cares.

Statistics show that as Brits we spend far more time at work than anywhere else in Europe. In fact, recent research from CV-Library, an independent job board, suggests that 64 percent of us are working extra hours each week.

The study surveyed 1,200 working professionals and found that more than a third work 1-3 hours extra each week. This amounts to 96 hours a year. That leaves little time for leisure activities such as exercise. It no doubt makes us more stressed, which is not conducive to being productive and happy at work.

So, what can employers do to help alleviate some of that stress caused by work and in turn boost staff morale and productivity?

Well, owner of Marketing Harmony, Vicky Glanville, might have the answer. Vicky also runs Infinite Harmony, and has just launched yoga classes in offices.

Her first client is RSM, in Basingstoke. Staff are now enjoying yoga in their lunchbreak, returning to work feeling more relaxed.

Not only do the classes benefit staff, but RSM is showing its workforce and customers that they are a business which cares.

The classes include various exercises aimed at loosening tension, including in the hands and wrists, which can build up during the day. Vicky also offers participants tips on how to stretch and relax throughout the day, with exercises they can do at their desks.

Sue Thorn, a manager at the Basing View office, who is also responsible for staff’s mental health, said: “We decided it’s a great thing for wellbeing and mental health in general. My normal approach is to go out and do a run at lunchtime but that’s not for everyone. We thought yoga brings relaxation into the office. We were surprised how many people decided to do it.”

Sue added: “It’s proved really popular. RSM has taken a pledge as a company called Time to Change which says as an employer, we will take mental health seriously.”

Vicky, who runs various yoga classes in Basingstoke, said: “It’s great because it gives people the opportunity to take a moment and stop and focus on what’s going on with their body. A lot of what we do is relaxing the body and focusing on good posture, strengthening the core and releasing tension.

“We carry around tension in our wrists and these exercises are aimed at releasing that. I’m trying to teach them positions they can do wherever they are. It’s not just about what you do on your yoga mat. It’s about how you hold yourself, how you sit and stand.”

Vicky hopes more businesses will recognise the benefits of offering yoga classes to staff.

“I think it’s really important for businesses to take responsibility for mental wellbeing,” she explained. “People spend so much time at work. Employers have a responsibility to look after their workforce to their best ability. Yoga can help with that.

“I would love to see more offices doing it, and giving people that opportunity to take a break. It’s so important to focus on what your body is saying right now. It’s very difficult for people to empty their heads. However, I talk a lot in the classes about what I want your body to do. This focuses on the breath and you become so focused on that,  you stop thinking about work.”

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