Promoting a healthy work-life balance
CIPD, in partnership with SimplyHealth, estimated that mental health problems affect one in six British workers each year. With mental health being the leading cause of sickness absence, it is all the more important for employers to promote a healthy work-life balance and do what they can to bolster mental health, which is supported by physical health. The past 18 months of lockdowns and other restrictions, with many employees working from home, has meant that there has been a lack of visibility in managing this balance. A poor work-life balance can quickly lead to stress and burnout, reducing levels of employee productivity, creativity and engagement. Working remotely can also affect us physically, which can have a knock-on mental health impact, as we spend more time in one place and the loss of our daily routines may have meant an absence of scheduled exercise.
Employers should have a plan to encourage staff to:
- Work sensible hours
- Take regular lunch breaks
- Rest and recuperate after busy periods
- Avoid working at weekends
- Take their full annual leave entitlement
At the beginning of the first lockdown I just went with the flow, thinking it would only be for a few months. Being stuck indoors – with no gym access – a newly sedentary lifestyle was affecting me physically and mentally. I enjoy hiking but as this was not an option, I made the effort to go out for a walk locally and committing myself to taking lunch breaks. I started off doing a set loop and each completed walk was an achievement, meeting my minimum number of steps. I wasn’t always motivated but I started to compete with colleagues on my Fitbit, which encouraged me to go out more than once a day. I noticed improvements in my health, which encouraged me further. Apart from the health benefits, it helped me focus better at work. It allowed me to break up my working day, and stepping away from work provided me with a routine and structure to the day.
If you find your employees are moving less and sitting longer, they may benefit from short and regular periods of walking. The fresh air and, depending on time of the season, nature, can be tranquil and very calming, having a positive effect on the mind, body, and soul.
It’s a simple activity, where there is a personal choice on the level of intensity but as an employer you can encourage step challenges and create walking groups. Walking with a friend or colleague (even virtually) keeps you motivated and encouraged. A 30-minute brisk walk burns calories, keeps you fit, reduced stress, helps you sleep better, and improves mental health
I also take advantage of complimentary insurer apps, provided through employer sponsored group insurance schemes, to track my steps, and motivate me as I collect reward points. These all provide added motivation to keep me on track, healthy both physically and mentally.
Jamna Varsani – Associate Consultant