‘What did you do on the holidays?’ It’s the common phrase uttered around the office and staff room upon the return to work after school holidays. As kids head back in to the classroom along with school staff and many parents around the country over the next two weeks, it is important to consider the conditions they return to and the impact this has on their mental health and wellbeing.
Vicki Field of People Management argues that if not managed properly the transition back to work can hurt employees, with the challenge for employers being to help their staff build on the benefits of taking the break rather than return to the stressors that meant they needed it in the first place.
Field recommends adopting a wellbeing strategy to support employees and help them to avoid post-holiday blues that incorporates all aspects of health including mental health and wellbeing, financial health, nutrition, and exercise. Specific tips include offering flexible work options to help better manage the work/life balance, encouraging staff to break away from their desks and get moving, as well as making healthy snacks available. Positive changes to office culture can include encouraging gratitude among employees and management, having discussions around mental health and incorporating processes to encourage help-seeking behaviour and awareness.
headspace Schools recently provided a list of self-care strategies for school management to adopt in line with Self-care September. This list includes many activities that could be applied beyond school communities, including reducing overtime, regular mindfulness exercises and even improving hydration. Although many of the strategies seem simple, they often yield some of the greatest benefit when well-implemented and committed to by the whole workplace.
In an upcoming Generation Next free webcast National Manager of headspace Schools Kristen Douglas poses the question “what did you do this this week to look after your mental health, what did you do to look after your physical health?” Management incorporating activities and opportunities into the work week can mean this question can be more readily answered with a positive response. Not only can this lead to more productive employees, but also a willingness to go above and beyond the usual job scope, to innovate and try creative ideas and solutions.
Generation Next research into working parents found that family responsibilities were one of the leading causes of employee absenteeism, the direct and flow-on effects of which can be devastating for workplace morale. Helping employees to improve their own wellbeing can put them in a much better position to help their families, especially as role models for their children. This can go a long way to reducing work time lost to family emergencies, and helping employees focus on the tasks at hand while at work.
Regardless of the industry, this time of year presents a great opportunity to promote mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. It will not only make work a more enjoyable place to be, but can in the long term lead to better productivity, more positive work culture and other positive organisational outcomes. As with most areas of health, prevention is far better than cure.
Feature image source: Pixabay