Chamber Chat with Aaron Crewe
Any business operating in or around Lancaster (being a city with not only 1 but 2 Universities) knows that with the start of October the students return to town, and with the return and arrival of students comes a wave of illness.
Even in firms which have no direct contact you are likely to see an increased incidence of flu in the workforce from the sudden introduction into the city of infectious strains we haven’t yet developed an immunity to.
Over the years we’ve learned to deal with this as best we can, but I often find myself thinking about the other threat to employee wellbeing, one which is far too frequently overlooked.
Poor levels of wellbeing, often referred to as ‘mental health’ has a stigma in society which leads us to try not to think about it and certainly not to talk about it, but this means we’re badly prepared to prevent it, never mind assist with it.
The New Economics Foundation has done some research into how we can all work, not merely to avoid falling into poor mental health, but to work toward improved mental health – and it begins with five simple daily steps, the mental equivalent of the five fruit and vegetables a day.
These five ‘Ways to Wellbeing’ as they’re also known, can quickly lift your mood and the mood of those around you. Not only does that improve our wellbeing but it can significantly enhance our work – research has found that a positive mental outlook can improve productivity by up to 31%!
The charity Mind has a lot of detail on the five Ways to Wellbeing available on its website, but to get you started they are:
Connect with someone else, a friend, colleague, or even a stranger. Social relationships are great way to maintain wellbeing.
Be active in whatever small ways you can – a lunchtime walk, taking the stairs rather than the lift, or walking to someone’s desk rather than emailing them. Endorphins are useful, even in smaller quantities.
Take notice of your surroundings or yourself. Quiet meditation and mindfulness or pausing for a few moments to appreciate the view and the crisp winter air lifts your spirits.
Learn something new. Keeping your mind active and engaged improves self-esteem and achieving goals pulls you toward higher levels of well-being.
Give some time or something to somebody you care about. Regular acts of kindness have been shown to increase your wellbeing as it fosters social and community ties. Something as simple as a tea run in the office can have noteworthy effects.
I’m a big advocate for employers taking responsibility and ensuring that they consider well-being an essential rather than a ‘nice-to-have’.