The Workplace Wellbeing Buzz 

Published on 13 Dec 2018

Workplace Wellbeing initiatives have certainly shot up in prevalence in recent times.

But what does workplace wellbeing really mean?

How can we actually identify and implement an initiative that truly improves workplace mental health and wellbeing? 

It seems to be all Fitbits, fruit bowls and resilience training - with negligible actual impact. 

Work has an important role in fostering positive mental health.

And like you we know the impact of not getting this right – loss of productivity, increased staff turnover, injuries and workers’ compensation claims. 

SuperFriend saw the lack of available strategies to promote positive workplace mental health, and commissioned the Work, Health and Wellbeing Team at Deakin University, and the Centre for Mental Health at University of Melbourne, to address this. 

Using the Delphi Consensus Method, expertise was gained from both practitioners of positive workplace mental health and organisations recognised for promoting wellbeing in the workplace. 

The following guidelines were developed: 

Develop a Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy

Senior leaders should ensure a mental health and wellbeing strategy is developed and implemented across the organisation.

Employees’ perceptions of positive aspects of their work and their working environment should be assessed.

The strategy should be integrated into policies, procedures and practices, with ongoing review and improvement. 

Promote positive mental health in the workplace

This includes:

  • ensuring respectful interactions
  • showing genuine case and concern for others
  • altruistic behaviour
  • taking a positive approach to work
  • noticing and appreciating positive work experiences 

This needs to be communicated with employees through multiple channels. 

Use a positive leadership style

Modelling the right behaviours goes a long way, including:

  • clear performance expectations, feedback, reward and recognition
  • providing clear direction
  • managing conflict proactively, decisively, promptly and objectively
  • supporting employee growth
  • providing support during change
  • promoting a work environment characterised by trust, honesty and fairness
  • promoting a sense of belonging and social wellbeing at work
  • enhancing the meaningful aspects of the work of employees’ by linking to the organisation’s mission and purpose 

Communicate effectively

Communication channels between management and employees should be open.

Goals of the organisation should be made clear to employees by communicating key achievements, activities, issues and developments, and giving employees a voice

Design jobs for positive mental health 

Tasks are more meaningful when you have task variety, task identity and task significance. 

Collaborating with employees and job crafting is important for positive mental health, and can deliver real benefits to the business, even when roles seem quite prescriptive.  

Recruitment and Selection of Employees

Promoting positive attitudes and behaviours via recruitment, selection, training and development policies.

Competency-based recruitment and selection practices and ensuring a good fit between employees’ interpersonal and emotional competencies, and the requirements of the position they hold. 

Support and develop employees 

Identify, developing and promoting employee strengths at work while also encouraging employees to achieve their goals by providing coaching and mentoring. 

Balance work and life demands

Use a clear policy that outlines what is expected of employees in terms of working outside their agreed hours.

Physical and psychological resources used at work should be promoted, along with taking of breaks and restorative experiences during work hours (eg a 10 min break to take a walk), and promoting flexible work arrangements. 

Positive mental health and wellbeing initiatives

Provide information and education on evidence-based strategies that can enhance positive mental health.

This education should specifically cover interventions to enhance individuals’ strengths, capacities and positive outcomes.

Senior leaders should also provide employees with a variety of positive mental health and wellbeing programs that are consistent with the mental health and wellbeing strategy. 

Download the full guide

Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Workplace - Guidelines for Organisations, inclusive of additional resources, can be downloaded here.

There are many resources as well as support available should you wish to ensure workplace mental health and wellbeing is a priority for you and your organisation. 

APM is able to assist you to link in with further resources, or to engage in a strategy to improve mental health in your workplace.