Creating a positive workplace through culture, environment and communication.

This week, mental health has been back in the headlines with the announcement of ‘Blue Monday’, coined as the ‘most depressing day of the year’, by Psychologist Cliff Arnoll back in 2004.

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Whether there is a scientifically proven ‘worse day’, for people actually suffering from a mental health issue remains to be seen. Regardless, Blue Monday helps us all by bringing the conversation about mental health into the forefront of our minds, challenging us to think about it and breaking down more of the barriers and stigma attached.

This can only be a good thing, and at Cordell Health this week we have been thinking all about how the mental health of a team can be influenced by subtle changes and positive reinforcement in the workplace. The list could be endless but we’ve narrowed it down to three main areas; Culture, Environment and Communication. See the top tips listed below!

Culture

Autonomy - giving staff the freedom to manage their own time. This might include work from home or flexible hours to fit around family responsibilities.

Support - allowing staff office time to get ‘life admin’ done, rewards for healthy lifestyle or walking challenges, supporting employees to achieve a good work-life balance.

Education - employees continually furnished with new skills are more engaged, motivated and loyal. Skills don’t even have to be work related to have a positive effect. Research has shown that gaining new personal skills reduces stress and improves wellbeing as well as productivity in the workplace.

Perks - Statistics show that employees often value perks more than pay rises, and better still, they don’t always have to cost the company money! They might include benefits such as allowing time off to work for charitable causes, use of the company car or a free day off on your birthday!

Environment

Community - not every office space is oversized and dowsed in natural light, but the way in which you use a working space has a huge impact on the wellness and productivity of a team. The sense of community that bonds a team together with a shared purpose and work ethic comes from a flexible zoned space. No matter how small these areas are, the aim is to try and create 3 zones; an open plan zone for shared creativity, a quiet zone for concentrating and a comfy social zone for relaxation when people need to step away from their desks.

Communication

Body Language - there’s a million variations of the way in which we use our bodies to communicate the most of subtle of things. But this is definitely an area worth thinking about; we all know there’s nothing worse than trying to have a conversation with someone whilst they’re checking their emails or sitting fidgeting with arms firmly folded. Generally, in a meeting or a one to one situation you’ll be aiming to show a supportive, positive and communicative stance. This would mean (phones and emails off) sitting with legs and arms uncrossed, head tilted forward and body slightly leaning forward. Eye contact is important but not in a staring way!

Language - The way in which we listen and use our words is full of nuances and we should practice both in equal measure! Use the ‘appreciate, ask and acknowledge’ strategy, getting feedback along the way, asking for opinions and appreciating and acknowledging work well done. Language should be polite, kind and stress positive actions and positive consequences. Focus on what can be done rather than what cannot, by using words such as ‘can’, ‘will’ or ‘able to’.  Suggest alternative solutions and offer people choices. Aim to help others where you can, and be bureaucratic rather than use a tone of blame or put people on the spot.

What do you feel works well or presents challenges in your workplace?