Working well in the workplace
We all have days when going to work is enjoyable and other days when it feels like a bit of a struggle. Once the struggle becomes a regular occurrence then it is likely that lack of wellbeing is affecting our work and that, in turn, makes it harder to give our best to the job.
The wellbeing of staff is at the centre of the employer/employee relationship. Employers need to ensure that staff are well and able to carry out their role and staff need to know that employers will take care of them and understand when they are not well.
In some ways, this is easiest when dealing with physical health. When an employee has a clear and obvious health problem then they will usually be open with their manager and the procedures will come into place to make sure that the sickness gets treated appropriately and that the employee can recover and get back to work as soon as possible.
It is more difficult where the problem is not so clear or where it is to do with mental health. Then there needs to be understanding that is shared by the employee, management and colleagues to ensure that the response is caring and appropriate.
These are a few things to bear in mind in this situation:
Say something: where colleagues can see that someone is struggling with their work and behaving in an uncharacteristic fashion then they should speak up. It’s always a judgement call whether to speak to the person concerned or their line manager. The main thing is something gets done.
Mental ill health is everyone’s concern: employees have to feel that, if they tell their employer that they have a mental health issue, it will be dealt with professionally and compassionately. All staff have to be clear that mental health is not a stigma in the workplace. Depression, anxiety disorders, OCD are all conditions that require treatment – not a “bit of a nuisance”.
Stress affects people in different ways. We often hear that someone is “off work with stress”. Stress can have physical aspects, such as exhaustion or IBS. It can also cause mental ill health such as depression and anxiety. Everyone in the workplace tends to shy away from the word “stress”. Once we all accept that it is a real aspect of life and working life, then it makes it much easier to deal with. Employers can either deal with the cause of the stress, if it is in the workplace, or understand and account for it if it is in the employee’s personal life. Colleagues can be understanding of the very real distress that the individual is one and work accordingly.
Wellbeing at work is important for all of us. It can only be achieved by understanding and compassionate working practices.