Ten years ago, mental health and individual wellbeing were not topics that you really heard talked about in the office, and, as British people, our ‘get on with it’ mindsets have been drilled into us since childhood.
I don’t know about you, but my mother sent me to school come hell or high water. If you hadn’t detached a limb, she expected you to skip off and learn trigonometry and not set fire to yourself with a Bunsen burner.
As adults, why would we need to consider any wellbeing techniques other than the good, old fashioned – pull yourself together and get on with it? Well, because we are not machines, of course.
Post-pandemic, we are working longer hours than our forebears did during the Industrial Revolution. Social media demands that we all look a youngish, firmish 25, well-groomed, with three beautifully turned-out children, a fast car and have three holidays a year.
Job security is not what it used to be, and mortgage payments are massive, and we are creatures that evolved to know how to react if we had a rare encounter with a sabre-toothed tiger.
We were not supposed to live with them.
Thankfully, mental wellbeing has become something that we can talk about both in a business context and in our broader life. It’s worth remembering that everyone has some, it’s not just the preserve of people who are suffering from mental illness.
We work more productively when we are happy, and the quality of our work is better. Studies by Oxford University and the University of Warwick, amongst many others, have shown that the reasons for this are myriad.
Happy employees care more about the business they work for and are more loyal, which reduces the turnover of staff. They are generally healthier, which reduces the cost of providing cover for staff who are sick.
A happy team member has a positive impact on their colleagues’ happiness to create a mutually supportive environment.
While nobody is saying that earning money in business is not essential, forward-thinking business owners and managers are developing workplaces and work cultures where staff-wellbeing is the priority, safe in the knowledge that happy staff will make the bottom line better.
Building a culture in a company is more important now than ever before. Remote working can isolate employees, and it’s important to think about the workplace culture in this new paradigm.
Avoid pitting one staff member against another and promote mutual support within your team. In giving people the opportunity to grow professionally, you create a positive environment where everyone can flourish.
If one of your valued team does want to leave, thank them for what they have done and wish them success. The people who have chosen to stay with you will respect you for it and feel their ongoing contribution is valued.
Getting company culture wrong can be toxic. It can hugely be damaging to the individual and the company. In a recent study by the CIPD, nearly four in five employers reported that staff have been working at home while unwell over the past year, but two in five aren’t taking any steps to address the issue.
The economy is set to grow rapidly over the next two years as it bounces back from the pandemic. It will mean that law firms and indeed all businesses will be busy. In this pressured environment taking time to plot and deliver a wellbeing plan will pay dividends with happier, healthier staff and a more robust business.
Anna Newport is the founder and director of Newport Land and Law.