Your 2023 Ambitions: How to promote mental wellbeing at work


The state of mental wellbeing

Poor mental health impacts performance

Your responsibility as an employer

How to promote mental health in the workplace

Facilitate communication

Establish Mental Health First Aiders

Recognition and reward: the ultimate morale boost

When employees need more, Sodexo Engage can help



We’re approaching January. A time when we start thinking about our good intentions for the year ahead. Unfortunately, new year's resolutions are often broken, which is why the 19th of January is dubbed Quitters Day.’

One of Sodexo Engage’s Mental Health First Aiders, Debbie Evans, talks about how we should ditch resolutions and instead make promises.

"Starting from a kind and positive mindset creates less stress and anxiety. This kinder message supports your consistency and motivation, leading to a change in mindset and behaviour."

With this in mind, if you make one promise for your business in 2023, let it be to embed and promote employee mental wellbeing.


The State of Mental Wellbeing

If we look back over the last few years, it’s fair to say that employees have experienced extraordinary upheaval. The Covid-19 pandemic, lockdowns, and social distancing meant that many had to change how they do their jobs. 

Now, we have the cost-of-living crisis to contend with, so it’s not surprising that more and more UK workers are being impacted by poor mental health and wellbeing. According to recent studies, as many as one in six have had mental health struggles, and over half of employees have experienced symptoms of burnout. 


Poor Mental Health Impacts Performance

Your business relies on people and their power to perform, which, in turn, depends on their mental resilience.

According to medical experts at the CDC, poor mental health negatively impacts:

  • Job performance and productivity
  • Engagement with one’s work
  • Communication with colleagues
  • Physical capability and daily functioning

Affected team members are also more likely to suffer from depression, which will escalate the situation for them and their workplace.


Enhance Your Sustainable Wellbeing Strategy


your responsibility as an employer

As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to manage health and safety risks in your place of business, including the mental health of your employees. A complete list of responsibilities can be found here via the HSE, but ultimately, you must show that you are doing ‘whatever is reasonably practical’ to be compliant.

The Equality Act (2010) and the Mental Health (Discrimination) Act (2013) stipulate that an employer must ensure that no one with a mental illness (which is officially recognised as a disability) is discriminated against by others in the workplace. The latter legislation also means that businesses must offer employees struggling with mental health issues the same progression opportunities as their colleagues.

While there’s no legal obligation to make specific provisions for general employee mental wellbeing, providing your teams with suitable facilities and running initiatives that will support their mental health is good practice.


How to promote mental health in the workplace

If you’re reading this, it’s because you know your business can do more, and you’re taking the first steps in championing mental wellbeing in your workplace. Before you look at mental wellbeing benefits, there are some essential cultural changes to make and a learning journey to undertake.


Facilitate Communication

Statistics show that only 2% of employees would feel comfortable talking to their employer about their mental wellbeing. Although this is a tiny number, it’s not wholly unsurprising when a stigma still exists around mental health issues.

Business and team leaders can open the doors and lead by example, creating a safe space for others to share their experiences. You should also train your line managers to be empathetic, approachable, and effective communicators who put people first.


Establish Mental Health First Aiders

Mental health issues can encompass an array of conditions and problems that range in severity, and this often means that some go unrecognised. By establishing Mental Health First Aiders, you can create a core team of employees with crucial knowledge of mental health.

According to CPD Online, a Mental Health First Aider’s responsibilities are to:

  • Recognise the warning signs of mental ill health
  • Keep themselves safe (mentally and physically)
  • Signpost colleagues to appropriate places for support (GP, online websites, self-help literature, therapy, support groups etc.)
  • Encourage positivity and wellbeing in the workplace
  • Actively work towards reducing stigma around mental health
  • Provide a receptive ear, listen without judging, plus offer support (with the help of the Mental Health First Aid action plan).


Recognition & Reward: The Ultimate Morale Boost 

We’ve discussed steps your business can take to create a culture of communication around mental wellbeing and ways in which you can educate and support your employees. However, there are further measures businesses can incorporate to support positive mental wellbeing, such as establishing a meaningful reward and recognition strategy.

When great work consistently goes unacknowledged or recognised, the motivation to continue to deliver to a high standard will fade. This is basic human nature. Feeling undervalued at work or constantly being pushed to the maximum without reward triggers workplace stress, leading to burnout and further mental health issues.

An effective reward and recognition programme is known to increase retention rates and boost engagement and performance. It requires investment in your people and business but doesn’t need to break the bank. Here at Sodexo, we specialise in a host of cost-effective financial rewards and employee benefits that offer a sustainable recognition solution.




When Employees Need More, Sodexo Engage can Help

Recently, we ran a LinkedIn poll, asking, ‘Would you feel comfortable discussing your mental health with your employer or within your business?’

The ‘No’ and ‘Don't Know’ responses made up the majority with 59% of the votes. As mentioned previously, a more extensive piece of research suggested that only 2% of employees answered yes to this question, making the negative 98%.

Even when your organisation takes steps to nurture a culture of support and communication, some employees will feel uncomfortable discussing their mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, these could also be the people who feel uncomfortable discussing it at home.

An Employee Assistance Programme is a lifeline for employees suffering in silence, allowing them to speak with BACP-accredited counsellors face-to-face, by e-mail, and by phone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. With access to the My Possible Self app included, your employees will have the support they need at the tip of their fingers whenever they need it.

Sodexo Engage has proudly supported businesses with their wellbeing initiatives for over 60 years. Get in touch to speak with an expert today.



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