Five tips to cultivating a happier workforce

As Mental Health Awareness week is launched across the UK today (May 14), Willmott Dixon offers some simple tips that businesses of all sizes can use to help make life at work more pleasant for their employees.

It’s long overdue, but our awareness of Mental Health is at last on the rise, with more and more initiatives and resources being dedicated to an issue which has silently blighted the lives of millions for as far back as we can remember.

One such initiative, All Safe Minds, was launched by UK Contractor Willmott Dixon in 2017, offering support to tradespeople in the construction sector struggling with depression – and it has been receiving masses of positive attention and feedback from industry colleagues.

It’s win win

May 14-20, 2018 is national Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, so Mark French, head of Health, Safety and Environment for Willmott Dixon, offers up five simple steps that employers can implement to provide their employees with a supportive and happy work environment. Completely cost-free, all of these steps work on the basis that when employees feel cared for and appreciated, it has a hugely positive impact on their productivity.

1. Keep work strictly to work hours.
Work-life balance is an incredibly important factor in helping to avoid work-related stress and anxiety. By allowing your staff to ‘switch off’ at the end of the day, and respecting their family/private life, they will ultimately feel more inclined to work harder during work hours. Avoid sending late night emails and don’t expect them to sit up until midnight writing reports – mutual respect and common sense go a very long way.

2. Be flexible
Life rarely runs to plan. School emergencies, ill-health, hospital visits etc. – they’re all stressful enough, without the added worry that your boss is going to penalise you, or even worse, prevent you, from dealing with them. Be realistic – if someone needs time off for a valid reason, make it an easy process. Communicate your company policy, explaining clearly what the expectations are on both sides so that you’re all on the same page – not only will it be massively appreciated, but could also help your business function more effectively when emergencies strike.

3. Make it personal
Small acts of appreciation can go a very long way. For example, at Willmott Dixon we give all our employees a day off on their birthday. We find that remaining staff members don’t mind covering their colleagues for one day, because they know they’ll get their turn when their own birthday comes around. If it helps create a happier workforce, what’s one day between friends?

4. Encourage personal development and career goals
It’s cheaper and easier to keep the employees you already have, as oppose to recruiting new ones.

If your staff become disillusioned, bored or unfulfilled in their work, the likelihood is sooner or later they’ll move on. This is costly for your business in terms of recruitment, interviewing and training time, not to mention the decrease in productivity that can take place while you’re busy getting a new member of staff in place. If you understand what your employees are hoping for in the long-term and help them progress, you’re far more likely to keep them. Similarly, if they are struggling with an element of their job, give them the means to communicate that freely to you, knowing that they’ll receive the support they need to master it.

5. Add a simple page to your website
There are already a huge number of professional resources available for people who might be struggling with their mental health. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel – we just need the people we care about to be aware of those existing resources.

Consider adding one single page to your website or company intranet, listing all the important numbers and support services that are available. Someone needing those services is unlikely to feel like surfing the net, so being able to refer quickly to a single resource, could offer a very simple but very real lifeline. Willmott Dixon has done exactly that – check out the All Safe Minds page here.

Showing that you care about your employees doesn’t have to involve hugely expensive sweeping gestures. Follow a few of the everyday tips above and you could start to see a positive difference very quickly – it’s just about being human.