We can all say with certainty that this year has been a difficult one. No more daily commute, no more face-to-face meetings, no more chats in the office to break up the working day – the lines between home life, socialising, and work have become blurred. With these facets of life occupying the same space and with limited connection to our support networks, maintaining healthy workplace habits and switching off can be a challenge for anyone.
Naturally, these circumstances will adversely affect mental health. Reflecting this, the digital healthcare services which make up our cash plans and Breeze have seen a spike this year, with a 461% increase in video counselling and a 36% growth in virtual GP appointments. Also highlighting the demand for support, our NHS-approved* mental health app Thrive has noted a 17% rise in registrations since the pandemic began. If the personal impact wasn’t enough, those suffering with poor mental health are not likely to be performing at their best at work due to burnout and stress – it’s no longer an option to leave stress behind at the office.
More than ever, we need to be looking after ourselves and encouraging the people around us to do the same. That’s where self-care comes in. Self-care is any action that helps us take care of our mental, emotional or physical health, with the aim to feel better and prevent long-term impact.
There are many holistic coping techniques you can introduce to your life or business to manage negative mental health symptoms and keep yourself, and your employees, content and motivated. A happy workforce is a strong workforce, and by giving them the tools to take care of their health, you’re likely to notice an improvement in engagement and productivity, cultivating a workplace culture where everyone feels valued in the process. It's a win-win situation that keeps you and the heart of your business healthy.
Changes you can implement to support self-care in your business:
1. Encourage work-life balance
Encourage employees to reclaim that all-important work-life balance by ensuring workloads are distributed reasonably amongst staff, blocking out no-meeting slots in diaries, and pushing back unrealistic deadlines where possible.
2. Regular 1-1 meetings
Make sure line-managers regularly check-in and discuss wellbeing and how they’re coping at work. Giving a little bit of recognition for their continued hard work can also go a long way to motivating your staff in the long term.
3. Introduce ‘walking meetings’ if possible
Some businesses have implemented 'walking meetings' where virtual calls occur outdoors. Encouraging employees to get outside every day and take the time they need to reconnect with nature is vital for wellbeing as well as productivity. A recent study showed that walking for an hour every day reduces depression by 26%.
4. Implement a health cash plan
Health cash plans help to sustain your workforce by providing your employees with the financial support they need to keep on top of everyday healthcare costs. At Health Shield, our cash plans also include a range of digital healthcare services designed to keep employees in the best of health, including 24/7 counselling, an NHS-approved* mental health app and a virtual GP service. Our Corporate Health Cash Plan is an increasingly popular option for businesses with a smaller budget, as it’s employee-paid and therefore doesn’t cost the employer a penny. Find out more about our health cash plans here.
5. Make employee wellbeing a Breeze
Another one of Health Shield’s products that enables self-care is our one-stop shop, Breeze. We understand that health and wellbeing in your company can be hard to quantify or observe, so Breeze allows you to track progress over time with useful insights based on regular employee assessments. Breeze offers a range of employee services to keep your workforce happy and well, including a brands and discounts platform, a virtual GP service and 24/7 counselling helpline, not to mention personalised self-help content including blogs and podcasts, all streamlining the process of enacting self-care practices into your business.
We must recognise the validity of mental health, self-care, and their place in the workplace. By taking the correct steps to take care of your staff, you are taking care of your business, establishing a sustainable, supportive culture that stretches far beyond the pandemic and into a brighter future.
* The app meets NHS quality standards for clinical effectiveness, safety, usability and accessibility and has a supportive evidence base.
 Health Assured Insights, 2020
 Thrive Insights, 2020
This is financial promotion.
Health Cash Plans: Health Shield Friendly Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.
Breeze: This non-insurance product is provided by Health Shield Friendly Society Limited.